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How Maybelline, Drest and Obsess Build Audiences in the Metaverse

The future of e-commerce is uber-personalized and ultra-immersive. While this seems straightforward enough, it's a concept that can — and should — look completely different from one brand to the next.

Lucy Yeomans, founder, co-chair and chief brand and product officer at Drest, remembers the very moment she realized the potential of beauty try-ons and partnerships in the gaming landscape.

“Our first beauty partner was Gucci, and we were seeing the most incredible results with every challenge and photo shoot we did with them, where consumers were spending 10 minutes creating with the brand — these were engagement times that I had never witnessed, neither in the traditional publishing or retail publishing space,” said Yeomans, formerly an editor at Harper’s Bazaar U.K. and editor in chief at Net-a-porter.

Not long after the success of its Gucci Beauty partnership, the virtual styling platform launched another campaign with Nars Cosmetics, and has since continued to develop its “Beauty Mode,” through which users can now shop products in addition to partaking in virtual try-ons and avatar customizations.

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It is precisely this idea of creating immersive shopping experiences that prompted Neha Singh to found experiential e-commerce platform, Obsess, in 2017.

“We believe 3D virtual stores for brands will be the future of e-commerce,” said Singh, chief executive officer at Obsess, which has created and housed more than 200 virtual storefronts for brands including Nars, Maybelline New York and Laura Mercier.

“For [Laura Mercier], the goal was a modernization of the brand, and so we created this atelier space that was inspire by Laura’s house,” Singh said. “In terms of how much more time people are spending in these immersive experiences, you are creating a larger customer lifetime value for brands by providing deeper touch points with the customer.”

Maybelline launched its Maybelline Virtual Loft on Obsess last October, which was designed to look like a New York City loft and allowed users to partake in scavenger hunts, try-ons and product education in the space.

“The creativity of [a virtual storefront] is unlimited,” said Emily Arkells, vice president, global digital, at Maybelline, which also recently teamed with cross-game avatar platform, Ready Player Me, to allow consumers to create boundary-pushing, gaming-inspired makeup looks. “We’re trying to find ways that we can harness our expertise, especially in makeup, and create a better experience online for consumers to bring expressive, creative looks to their communities.”

When it comes to skin care, which is inherently less visual than makeup, Singh sees an opportunity, rather than a challenge, in helping brands within the category adapt to the metaverse.

“Virtual experiences allow you to educate your consumers in a very immersive way; think about what’s unique about your brand, what is the science behind it,” said Singh, who worked with Dermalogica on a virtual space in which the brand’s chief scientist explained, in avatar form, how the brand develops its products. Within the space, consumers could watch skin treatments and services being performed with Dermalogica products, and opt into an AI skin analysis, which delivered tailored recommendations based on their detected skin needs.

“Consumers don’t just want to be spoken to — they wanted to be involved, get creative and feel like they’re part of the conversation,” Yeomens said.