It's time to make some more room at the augmented reality cosmetics counter.
This week, social media giant Pinterest unveiled "Try On," a virtual make-up visualization tool running on its Lens visual search tool.
The feature is rolling out now to US users of the Pinterest apps for iOS and Android. (I've been able to access it through the iPhone app, but not yet on Android.)
Try On is accessible through the camera tool in the search section of the app, where users will find a "try on" button that flips the view to the front-facing mode and a carousel for different shades of lipstick. In addition, users can access the tool via the "try it" button embedded in lipstick-related content on boards.
After arriving at a preferred look, users can swipe up to shop for the selection or capture a photo to pin to a board or share through other means. Participating brands include bareMinerals, Estée Lauder, Neutrogena, Sephora, and select L'Oreal brands, namely Lancôme, NYX Professional Makeup, Urban Decay, and YSL Beauté.
Pinterest launched Lens back in 2017, just months before Google unveiled a very similar product at I/O 2017 (though neither version of Lens should be confused with Snapchat's similarly named tool for AR camera effects). Like Google Lens, Lens on Pinterest can identify objects in an image and find similar content across Pinterest's platform.
Over the years, following their respective launches, Google Lens has evolved its capabilities to include live search, translation, and other features. Most recently, Google integrated a virtual try-on experience for Garnier hair products.
Virtual try-on camera effects for cosmetics marketing are among the more mature applications of mobile augmented reality, with most brands having adopted some form of the technology. Leading the pack is L'Oreal's Modiface, which powers the AR cosmetics features for Facebook, Amazon, and Samsung, and it remains the most popular platform for the technology. Last year, another giant among tech platforms, YouTube, joined the growing ranks of virtual try-on tools that also includes tools like YouCam, FaceTune2, and Meitu.
However, one provider of these services may be more vulnerable than others when it comes to Pinterest's entry into the AR cosmetics marketing arena. Snapchat has established itself as a leading medium for AR advertising in terms of AR capabilities and its command over younger audiences. Virtual try-on effects are part of the company's core AR arsenal, with marketing campaigns for Dior and Florence By Mills serving as recent examples.
For this particular market, though, Pinterest commands 322 million monthly active users, with about 40% of adult women in the US reporting that they use the app, according to a 2019 Pew Research survey. By comparison, Snapchat has grown to 210 million daily active users, with about 24% of adult women in the US counting it among their go-to social media apps.
So while Pinterest's AR arrival is not an ideal development for Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging pioneer has weathered more daunting challenges from bigger competitors, namely Facebook.
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