AI-powered makeup fills consumers with ‘horror’

November 25, 2022

According to the researchers, augmented reality makeup reinforces the feeling of “fake” and embarrassment for consumers, bringing them back to physical stores.

(Image: Shutterstock)

(Image: Shutterstock)

The report, co-authored by Bayes Business School and conducted between 2018 and 2022, explored the psychological and sociological factors of consumer experience when using augmented reality (AR) makeup technology; in particular, the role that digital makeup mirrors play in enhancing people’s imagination and self-perception.

The authors find that while individuals may feel comfortable putting on makeup when looking at themselves through a “real” mirror, the opposite is true when looking at themselves in a digital makeup mirror.

Consumers have found that digital mirrors, promoted by brands such as Charlotte Tilbury, L’Oreal and Amazon, have enhanced their imaginations as they can imagine themselves looking like their favorite celebrity or what they looked like in the past.

However, compared to the “real” shopping experience of buying makeup, AR mirrors created a strong sense of inauthenticity. This is due to factors such as:

• Trying to put on makeup in a store feels fun, while looking at yourself through a digital makeup mirror feels “horrifying”

• Individuals feel embarrassed when using digital makeup mirrors and feel less likely to want to share digital content in their search for social acceptance

• Make-up is an emotional experience: the actual purchase of make-up in store is perceived as a journey of self-reflection difficult to compare with a digital make-up mirror

• Individuals view themselves through a lens in which their appearance is based on collective online observation of friends, celebrities or influencers. A digital make-up mirror hampers how individuals search for that proxy self.

This sense of inauthenticity initially deflates consumers’ desire to use makeup mirrors online. However, for consumers to “complete” and “enjoy” their shopping experience, they would prefer to be physically inside the makeup store.

Meanwhile, while these apps and devices allow them to send a photo of themselves transformed on social networks, they fear that they will be embarrassed by their social network.

So, instead of using an AR makeup mirror to try on makeup, consumers prefer to find a makeup influencer who shares similarities with their own look, such as skin type or facial contour, and follow their recommendations.

Users of the digital makeup mirror for the study criticized augmented reality’s lack of understanding or respect for human skin, ethnicity, or feelings when applying color to skin, particularly with luxury makeup brands.

They also claimed a “shameful surprise” about how they looked while using AR makeup mirrors. For example, although they looked surprised to see the AR colors on their face, they were quickly ashamed of their AR appearance and would hardly share their AR photo “in private” with their close family and friends instead. than to share it publicly online.

One participant said, “…It’s my face. I want it. I want to feel it. i want to try it [real makeup products] on. I want to see consistency…with makeup, it’s not something I can trust in anything virtual augmented for a decision like what I put on my face.

Khaled El-Shamandi Ahmed, co-author of the study, said managers and creative companies are “a world apart” from consumers in the experience, adding that consumers need to be involved as co-creators. whether progress needs to be made.

However, he added that online AR makeup apps could entice consumers to visit makeup stores around Black Friday – with the most recent retail footfall figures showing a 14% drop from to the pre-Covid comparative period in 2019 – and to enjoy the “real” makeup shopping experience.

“Digital makeup mirrors do not extend the self but, instead, create an inauthentic sense of self that can lead to embarrassment and shame. And this despite research that promises augmented reality will transform the experience of consumer purchase.

“Respondents described finding the right makeup as an ’emotional process’ and a ‘journey.’ This study clearly shows that technology, while being a powerful and progressive tool in the service industry, can also have a negative and disruptive influence on the consumer.

“Tech companies and consumers are a world apart in terms of the expected and perceived digital service experience, and CX managers have a responsibility to balance the fun factor with reality.”

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