Despite being initially remote due to the pandemic, Harrisonburg beauty product business withSimplicity is maintaining sales using new technology: the metaverse.
According to Time, the metaverse is a network of virtual worlds parallel to the physical world.
With this new form of technology growing, with Simplicity Director of Marketing Mary McMahan took a note on how other cosmetic brands were marketing their products during the pandemic.
“When COVID-19 started,” McMahan said, “one of the requirements was that all of our tester products were closed, so this drastically affected our makeup sales because people are more likely to buy a product if you try it on.”
McMahan said she noticed other cosmetic brands used online face filters to let customers try on products virtually. She said she was inspired by cosmetics brands such as Dior and Maybelline to implement online filters on her own website.
However, after doing some research, McMahan discovered that this online web feature was too costly, as she said one company quoted a minimum of $500.
“The price of that would be way too much for a small business,” McMahan said.
McMahan was still determined to use such technology to help her business, which led her to team up with JMU’s X-Labs. JMU students at X-Labs and McMahan determined the best program to use for this technology was Spark AR. According to the Spark AR website, it enables users to create custom augmented reality (AR) effects. Jamie Zeigler (’20), manager of JMU X-Labs, worked with McMahan for nearly six months to complete this project.
“Augmented reality is one of the technologies of the future,” Zeigler said.
During the project, Zeigler and McMahan were able to create Instagram filters where users could virtually try on makeup. In terms of the filters’ accuracy, Zeigler said they worked together to create the most accurate filter to represent the makeup products realistically as possible. Zeigler explained how the filters closely resemble the products, as she used color codes, hex codes and RGB codes to determine the true color of the products.
Using these new filters, McMahan said she’s been able to market her products on Instagram. This allows clients the opportunity to virtually try on beauty products such as lipsticks, lip glosses, eyebrow colors, blushes and other beauty products, she said.
Metaverse technology is on the rise as several large tech companies such as Google, Microsoft and Meta have announced that they’re currently in the process of building their own metaverses. In 2021, CEO of then-Facebook Mark Zuckerberg renamed Facebook “Meta Platforms.”
Although metaverse technology is still five-10 years away, Doukas explained how the metaverse will expand opportunities for a variety of different businesses. Specifically, Doukas took note of this during the pandemic.
“With the pandemic, you saw a great transition of businesses transitioning their operations online,” Doukas said.
Doukas said the pandemic allowed business owners to realize the possibility of a digital presence and how to leverage the internet as a tool to survive online.
Now that withSimplicity has returned to in-person operations, McMahan said the business will continue to use the metaverse technology. This type of media allows people to reach more customers, McMahan said.
“Not only are people using the filters, but they share them with their friends,” McMahan said.
McMahan said the new filters helped increase makeup sales and brand awareness. As for the future, McMahan said she plans on adding to this technology, as the business adds new colors to its collection, more filters will be incorporated.
“As more people shop online, they want to be able to have the in-store experience in the comfort of their own home,” McMahan said. “It’s about being creative.”
Contact Victoria Wray at email@example.com. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.