Maybelline is further delving into the digital and virtual shopping space, kicking off its endeavor with a Halloween-themed experiment dubbed Maybelline Virtual Loft.
Housed on a non-shoppable website, Maybelline Virtual Loft allows consumers to explore new products, play in-program games, use Maybelline services and join in on exclusive online events. The loft is reminiscent of a loft-style New York apartment and patio, with the city’s nighttime skyline enveloping the space and lo-fi house music playing throughout. Visitors can partake in a virtual scavenger hunt, try on virtual Halloween makeup looks and explore products. As Maybelline is a mass brand without DTC e-commerce capabilities, customers can shop for products by linking out to Maybelline’s retail partners from the product page.
The ongoing virtual experience kicks off the beginning of an immersive tentpole marketing strategy for Maybelline, with the long-term vision of fueling excitement for the brand as makeup sales rebound. Ultimately, through immersive experiences, Maybelline is looking to reinvent the idea of beauty services.
“Even as a company, L’Oréal is moving from products to services to boost the overall appeal of products, the image of our brands and how we influence consumers’ purchasing decisions,” said Danielle Rose, vp of consumer activation for Maybelline New York. “This is step one, as we see how consumers want to interact with the brand.”
In addition to the virtual loft, Maybelline has also built out Halloween as a section on Maybelline.com and created a Snapchat augmented reality filter with its sister-brand Garnier.
“Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Halloween has not been a huge focus. But with everyone [getting back into the holiday] in real life, we wanted to lean into Halloween in a big way this year,” said Rose.
Rose said that the role of a non-shoppable website today is to offer information and services that its retail partners cannot. She added that the biggest performance indicator is engagement, including the various components receiving the most attention from consumers. Notably, the loft activation is an opportunity to gather first-party data such as consumers’ product and category preferences, color affinities, skin tone and skin type. Retail partners are not participating in driving traffic to the website.
Neha Singh, founder and CEO of Obsess, an experiential e-commerce company that developed the virtual loft for Maybelline, said the brand wanted to find an innovative way to engage with a newer and younger audience used to gaming interfaces. Obsess has worked with a variety of beauty brands, such as Dior.
“Virtual stores have become a standard way of how brands are starting to connect with their consumers,” she said.
According to research Obsess conducted with Kantar, 70% of consumers who have visited a virtual store have made a purchase. There appears to be a distinct advantage to priming customers with virtual storefronts regarding further expansions into the metaverse and gaming. The Obsess survey found that nearly 75% of Gen-Z shoppers have purchased a digital item within a video game and that 60% of these young shoppers think brands should sell their products on metaverse platforms.
Maybelline has already dabbled with virtual makeup try-on and the metaverse. The company partnered with YouCam Makeup back in 2018, and it currently offers try-on website capabilities powered by Modiface. On October 21, L’Oréal China announced that the brand debuted a metaverse experience on Tmall ahead of Alibaba’s annual 11:11 shopping event. Earlier this year, Maybelline and other L’Orèal-owned brands filed for NFT trademarks.
To drive traffic and engagement, Maybelline solicited makeup artist and TikTok influencer Meredith Duxbury to direct audiences to the brand’s website, in addition to investing in SEO and partnering with other social media influencers for paid promotion. For every virtual makeup look a user creates, they are entered into a sweepstake for a $500 Walmart gift card. Rose declined to share specific investment figures for the initiative.
Rose said there is not a set cadence for when the loft will be updated and that brand collaborations are possible.