Staff Writer
Jan 26, 2022

Surpassing reality: As pressure to compete in the metaverse mounts, marketers are unlocking the immersive value of AR/VR

Under the new normal, more than ever brands are using augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to craft experiences that engage and inspire customers. NYX Professional Makeup’s Yasmin Dastmalchi shares her insights on how marketers can get ahead of the competition by embracing the virtual economy in a discussion moderated by Meta’s Leigh Thomas and Campaign’s Gideon Spanier.

PARTNER CONTENT

In today’s competitive market, you’ve got to stand out in order to succeed. To do so, it’s important that marketers employ strategies to meet changing consumer behaviour and deliver the best possible experiences. In the metaverse, brands can employ AR and VR technologies to offer a fully fledged virtual space in place of a physical one. From testing makeup to test driving a new car, consumers can try before they buy, a strategy that encourages them to seek out unique experiences at their convenience. Customers come to you, rather than you needing to attract them.

To help understand how, here are highlights from the sixth instalment from Pioneers | Conversations on our Industry’s Future, featuring Los Angeles-based Yasmin Dastmalchi, general manager of NYX Professional Makeup, moderated by Campaign’s UK editor-in-chief Gideon Spanier and Leigh Thomas, director of global client and category, EMEA for Meta. This panel discussion, the second in a series of conversations on the evolution to a digital-first metaverse and trending topics on the future of marketing, was again hosted in avatar form within cyberspace.

Are you experienced?

In the experience era, marketers aim to provide consumers with an attractive branded experience. Metaverse marketing — an immersive, digital environment populated by virtual avatars representing actual people — puts an emphasis on convenience, transactions, and social interactions. The gaming industry was the first to truly grasp the power and possibility of these game-changing technologies but marketers in all sorts of sectors, especially those that target Millennials and Generation Z, are flocking to the metaverse.

Take NYX Professional Makeup, for example. In September last year, the American cosmetics company, a subsidiary of L’Oréal, was the official partner at a major NFT fashion and beauty show, Crypto Fashion Week. The event featured livestreams, virtual talks and NFT (non-fungible token) drops, building up to the “Meta Gala”, a virtual fashion show live streamed on Twitch and YouTube. There, NYX Professional Makeup unveiled its first NFT on the Meta Gala red carpet, where viewers could try on and purchase beauty products straight from the catwalk.

“We think of ourselves as a brand that leads with innovation,” says Dastmalchi, “our DNA is rooted in self-expression, creativity, beauty and artistry.” Not surprisingly, NYX Professional Makeup’s core demographic is Gen Z and Millennial consumers, known as GenZenials (GZs), who crave special and unique digital experiences. “Virtual makeup try-on is an essential part of how we connect with our community,” says Dastmalchi, whose company embraces ethnic, cultural, sexual orientation and gender diversity.

Indeed, the brand’s entire product portfolio is available for virtual try-on — including online shade-matching — all powered by advanced technologies, the likes of which will soon be required for brands to stay relevant. “We’re a digital-first brand,” Dastmalchi continues, “it truly drives our business. AR/VR technology is at the centre of our marketing strategy. It’s an entertaining way of connecting with our digitally native consumer base, one that provides them with a source of inspiration and us with a means of education. Together, we can create new concepts for beauty.”

Expand your brand

As Meta’s Leigh Thomas points out, consumers are generally early adopters of new technology while businesses & policy makers tend to lag behind. A good example is that the majority of consumers prefer to engage with AR as they shop. In a recent Interactions study, The Impact of Augmented Reality on Retail, 61% of respondents in the US said they prefer to shop at stores that offer AR over ones that don’t. Given consumer preferences, those brands that close the gap between online and offline experiences quickly are very likely to see big returns by investing in an AR/VR ecosystem.

“GZs have a new way of consuming and that’s what drives our growth,” says Dastmalchi, adding that marketers have no choice but to look beyond basic marketing tactics. “Brands have to move fast. They need to create experiences and strategies that align with the vision and values of GZ consumers.”

Clearly, entering the virtual economy is not just a future trend, it’s key to survival. Marketers need to understand online culture and develop deep user engagement. “At NYX Professional Makeup, the team is built to dream,” says Dastmalchi. “They embrace a new way of talking to consumers via AR and VR, while at the same time analysing their attitudes using behaviour models. That test and learn mentality is critical for us and is what will future-proof our brand. Our company wants to be around for another 100 years and the reality is that AR and VR will be at the core.”

While the metaverse unleashes amazing opportunities for consumers and creators alike, Leigh believes that it’s important for human well-being to keep it real. “The metaverse will be a wonderful thing but we have to take responsibility now for building it well - responsibly for our own sake and that of our children. We need to cultivate a responsible view of the embodied internet as of now - celebrating all it’s wonderful creative and economic opportunities - whilst making sure it is a safe and wholesome place for future generations.”

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