The past year has seen a dramatic proliferation in the use and availability of chatbots. Almost every major industry is tapping into the multiple and rising benefits of chatbot technology, based on the primary ability to directly reach target audience pools in a personal capacity, 24/7. The beauty industry is one of many that has realised the overwhelming potential of this technology to interact personally with consumers, opening a new world of marketing possibilities still being discovered as the technology improves over time. Beauty is much more personal than other industries, and messaging succeeds when it is personalised — whether that’s personalised product recommendations or beauty tips.
The first steps of chatbot technology in the beauty industry were cautious and straightforward. Beauty chatbots were initially used to handle mundane customer service enquiries, such as store locations and product returns. But now beauty chatbots have evolved into savvy virtual store assistants for many leading fashion, beauty and cosmetic brands. Some even enlist the assistance of augmented reality to offer personalised product recommendations and beauty tips, as well as try-ons.
The best cosmetic beauty bots in the industry now easily handle the roles of beauty consultations, appointments, gifting and influencer marketing through chatbot platforms like Facebook Messenger and Kik. Users are able to have a conversation with a beauty bot much like they would a human assistant in store and receive tons of beauty information, tips and recommendations. Bots ask users a series of questions, the users then share photos and links and a digital beauty consultation is underway. It’s that simple.
We have compiled a list of the 5 most popular beauty chatbots currently available on the market to see how they differ in services and application.
Bloom Avenue’s Olivia
Olivia is a Facebook Messenger chatbot which is able to conduct a thorough online skin assessment. Bloom Avenue enlisted the tech expertise of WeAreBrain (us) to create the user-facing chatbot. Through a series of skin-related questions, Olivia is able to recommend the right skincare products for each user. To achieve this our developer needed to ensure that we were able to:
- Validate the input according to the domain logic
- Check if these inputs were correct
- Make suggestions to users on how to make the correct input
As there was no OOTB answer on how to do this, the solution to this issue was to write our own API which could interact with current online cosmetic shops and incorporate all of those filters and attributes. The Lambda script can then use the API as a third party end-point.
Sephora’s Virtual Artist
Sephora has created an intuitive beauty bot which chats and interacts with users via the Kik (online bot shop) platform. It allows users to try out a vast range of makeup shades and tones simply by uploading a selfie into the messaging interface. The bot can also colour-match — users can submit a photo of a dress and the system can colour-match the dress colour and recommend products of the same colour.
Users have the option to either select various shades from themselves or utilise the app’s skin-matching technology for recommendations for their skin tone and style. Once a user has selected which choice of products they wish to purchase, they are ushered to the respective brand’s website to check out. Users are also able to book in-person makeup consultations through its Facebook reservation bot.
This popular bot acts as a beauty consultant by helping users find the right products for building a personalised skincare regimen. Users fill out a questionnaire about their skin and send a selfie to the chatbot on Facebook Messenger, text message, or a desktop computer. HelloAva’s algorithm recommends a wide variety of products, and then a licensed aesthetician confirms the choices before sending the users to the checkout page.
Users can also chat with aestheticians if they have any questions about the recommendations. HelloAva’s AI machine learning technology uses reference data on other clients from similar age and demographic groups. It also keeps tabs on each customer’s past conversational history and recent purchases to provide continually personalised service.
Kalanibot is the world’s first influencer chatbot. Until recently, CoverGirl’s business model has centred around celebrity endorsements, specifically film stars and fashion models. With the recent hike in popularity of social media influencers, CoverGirl sought to corner the market and create an influencer chatbot. Kalanibot is modelled on Instagram influencer Kalani Hilliker, a teenage dancer with over 4 million followers.
The chatbot is hosted on messaging app Kik and is catered to a teenage audience. Klanibot interacts with its users conversationally and promotes cosmetic products Kalani herself uses, and then offers coupons for the promoted product which users then purchase.
L’Oréal’s Beauty Gifter
L’Oréal was quick to recognise the opportunity of personalised one-on-one chats with customers at scale and launched its messaging chatbot for Facebook Messenger, Beauty Gifter. The chatbot asks the user a series of questions, such as the price range of the gift giver and age of the recipient. Then the gift giver sends a card to the recipient that says, “I want to buy you a gift.”
The bot then asks the gift receiver a series of questions about their skin tone and type, what colour combinations they prefer, and so on. Once the questions are finished, the bot sends a series of gift options to the gift giver. Through machine learning, Beauty Gifter learns each user’s preferences and makes personalised product recommendations from the world’s leading beauty and cosmetic brands. It also follows up with customised relevant content to drive continued engagement from users.
Madison Reed’s Madi
The cosmetic industry isn’t the only one enlisting the aid of chatbot technology to reach their audience directly, the hair industry is also getting in on the action. Hair dye company Madison Reed’s virtual hair colour assistant bot helps users source their perfect shade of hair colour. Madi is a Facebook Messenger chatbot which you can also access via SMS text. Users simply submit a photo of themselves and the system analyses the photo to identify the primary and secondary tones. After a few straightforward questions asked by the bot, users are then sent recommendations of the right Madison Reed product. Users now don’t have to wait weeks to schedule an appointment with a hairstylist, they can get their hair colour matched instantly.
With the world’s leading beauty brands embracing chatbot technology, it marks the beginning of the trend toward more personalised and intelligent beauty experiences. The future promises a significant number of exciting transformations in the beauty industry as beauty companies enhance their user experiences with technology. If it has started with bots, what’s next on the cards for technology in the beauty industry?