Spending on cosmetics usually creates an economic crisis, but This changed during the COVID-19 epidemic, Due to the order to stay at home and the willingness of people to wear makeup with masks. This forced retailers to accelerate their online strategies, providing new ways to attract shoppers’ attention without shop samples. Virtual beauty try-on technology, like the ones developed by Perfect Corp, will play a key role in this digital shift. The company announced today that it had raised a $ 50 million series led by Goldman Sachs.
New Taipei City, Taiwan and headed by CEO Alice Chang Perfect Corp . Possibly best known to consumers for its beauty app, YouCam Makeup, which allows users to “try out” virtual samples from more than 300 global brands, owned by beauty group Estée Lauder and L’Oréal Paris People are also included. Launched in 2014, YouCam Makeup now counts around 40 million to 50 million monthly active users and has expanded from augmented selfies to include beauty influencers, social features, and a “skin score” feature to live-stream and tutorials is.
Perfect Corp’s technology is also used for in-store retail, e-commerce and social media tools. For example, its technology helped create a new augmented reality-driven try-on tool for Google Search, launched last month (previously used Tries YouTube makeup, Too). This also Worked with snap To integrate beauty try-on features in Snapchat.
With the new funding, Perfect Corp’s total so far has been about $ 130 million. Announcement of its last funding There was a $ 25 million Series A in October 2017. The Series B will be used to further develop Perfect Corp’s technology for multichannel retail and to open more international offices (currently operating at 11 million).
In a press statement, Jhinny Feng, a managing director at Goldman Sachs’ merchant banking division, said, “The integration of technology into the beauty industry through artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality will unlock significant benefits, including amplification of digital sales channels.” , Privatization and increased deep consumer engagement. “
Perfect Corporation will also be part of the investment firm Launch with gs, A $ 500 million investment initiative to support a diverse, international collaboration of entrepreneurs.
The company uses facial landmark tracking technology, which creates a “3D mesh” around the users face to make the beauty look more realistic. In terms of privacy, Chief Strategy Officer Louis Chen told TechCrunch that no user data, including photos or biometrics, has been saved, and all computing is done within the user’s phone.
Most, or about 90%, of Perfect Corp’s customers are cosmetic or skincare brands, while the rest sell haircare, hair coloring, or accessories. Chen said Perfect Corp.’s technology aims to replicate the experience of trying on makeup in a store as closely as possible. When a user virtually applies lipstick, for example, they not only see color on their lips, but also textures, such as matte, glossy, shimmer or metallic (the company currently offers seven lipstick textures, which Chen said Is the most) in the industry).
While makeup sales have declined during the epidemic, interest in skincare has increased. a September 2020 report of NPD Group Found that American women are buying more types of products than last year, and using them more often. To help capitalize on that, Perfect Corp has recently launched a tool Which is called AI Skin Diagnostic Solution, Which states that verified by dermatologists and grades facial skin on eight matrices including moisture, wrinkles and dark circles. The tool can be used on skincare brand websites to recommend products to shoppers.
Prior to COVID-19, YouCam Makeup and the company’s augmented reality try-on tools appealed to Gen Z shoppers, who are comfortable with selfies and filters. But the epidemic is forcing all makeup and skincare brands to accelerate their adaptation of technology for shoppers. As a McKinsey’s report about the effect of COVID-19 on the beauty industry Put it, “The use of artificial intelligence for testing, discovery, and optimization will need to be accelerated in the form of concerns about safety and hygiene that fundamentally disrupt product testing and person-consultation.”
“Depending on the geography of the brand, perhaps only 10% in the past, no more than 20%, of their business was direct to the consumer, while 80% was undergoing retail distribution and distribution partnerships, a network they already built Was. Year, “said Chen. But beauty companies are now investing more in e-commerce, and Perfect Corp is offering its capital as SaaS.
Another way Perfect Corp has adapted its offerings during the epidemic is by providing remote consulting tools, meaning beauty and skincare consultants who usually work in salons or via in-store video calls such as Ulta Can display makeup look on customers.
“Everything we’re building now is not a silent technique,” Chang said. “It is now always combined with video-streaming.” In addition to one-to-one chat, it also means live-cast shopping, which is extremely popular in China and is slowly moving to other countries as well, and the kind of AR technology that was integrated into YouTube and Snapchat.