Lancer Skincare has entered into the VR e-commerce world with the launch of the Virtual Lancer Dermatology Shop.
Lancer Skincare products were first launched in 2011 by Dr. Harold Lancer, a practicing Beverly Hills dermatologist known for treating celebrity clientele like Kim Kardashian West, Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Lopez. Lancer Skincare is sold via Dermstore, QVC, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales, among other retailers.
The VR shop models the company’s Beverly Hills office: Virtual visitors enter from the street through a foyer and go up an elevator to be greeted by a Dr. Lancer avatar. From there, visitors can peruse the office by taking a product recommendation quiz, viewing videos about the brand, shopping products and even clicking out to the Instagram account of Dr. Lancer’s French bulldog Louie (@LouieTheMovieStarDog; 12,300 followers). Website users can access the virtual shop under the “Dermatology Clinic” main menu option or via the dedicated spot on the main page.
Tracey Sameyah, CEO of Lancer Skincare, said that Dr. Lancer’s role at the front and center of the brand is extremely important, as there are obvious geographical and financial limitations that people interested in his services face. Additionally, the VR shop was created in direct response to the changing e-commerce market, where more people are shopping than ever before. Lancer Skincare DTC e-commerce sales grew 90% in 2020. DTC e-commerce sales make up 20% of the company’s overall sales, she said.
“What we’re learning as a company is that there’s a new chapter, and we have to have additional ways of existing and speaking to the consumer wherever they want to find that,” said Sameyah.
Virtual reality e-commerce first gained traction at the onset of Covid-19 in March 2020, with science-backed and luxury brands being the first movers. Dior and Charlotte Tilbury created VR shopping hubs in 2020, while Dermalogica and Dyson added their own in 2021. Sameyah said Lancer Skincare’s VR shop was initially planned for the first quarter of 2022, but the concept was fast-tracked and completed in six months. Lancer Skincare partnered with virtual tech startup ByondXR to create its VR dermatology office and shop.
For a dermatology-backed brand like Lancer Skincare, the VR shop is more than just a pillar of its education strategy. It also serves as a stake in the ground. By showing a rendering of the dermatology office, with a greeting from Dr. Lancer himself, the brand is trying to demonstrate that it is a serious brand. Dr. Lancer, who started his clinical practice in 1983, said he still works up to seven days a week. The practice will reach a milestone of 1 million patient encounters within the next 12 months, he said. The brand’s philosophy is based on a routine of “polish, cleanse and nourish” with physical exfoliators, face washes and moisturizers.
“Dermatologists and physicians used to be [the experts] in diseases of skin, hair and nails,” said Dr. Lancer. “Now it appears that everybody and their grandmother is a dermatology expert. I find it repulsive that there are so many people involved in producing brands that are confusing the public and detracting from the true concept of what home skin care is supposed to be.”
Dermatology and other expert-led brands have become more popular. Luxury brands like RéVive, Augustinus Bader, 111Skin and Dr. Barbara Sturm have all gained worldwide sales traction and acclaim in the last three years, even though several of them have been around for more than a decade. Part of the expert-led brand growth is likely fueled by Covid-19, as customers sought to supplement their more professional dermatological services. But there is also a backlash to the clean beauty movement and its relationship to health misinformation. Brands like Deciem and Apostrophe have sought to demonstrate that not all chemicals are bad and that, in fact, everything is chemicals.
“We felt that it was imperative that [virtual visitors] speak with Dr. Lancer and that he personally welcome them to his office, which is the science hub where everything to do with Lancer [Skincare] emanates from and starts,” said Sameyah. “[We’re trying to] thread [the narrative of] practice-to-product and a gold standard of innovation, information and education. We know that creates a strong relationship between the brand and the consumer.”