Mirrors are for much more than idle reflection, at least at Le Métier de Beauté’s Neiman Marcus counters.
The retailer and the brand have joined forces with MemoMi to install Memory Makeover smart mirrors in 21 locations to bring the at-your-fingertips instruction and education that made YouTube so appealing in the beauty category to the store floor. The mirrors could give makeup shoppers immersed in the social-media age a compelling reason to shop in person at department stores.
“The Memory Makeover is the first product that will create a personalized, step-by-step tutorial of a makeup application,” said Kelly St. John, vice president, divisional merchandise manager for beauty at Neiman Marcus. “This new tool is an asset for all of us that want to recreate a look from the makeup artist, whether it is referencing how the product was applied or which specific products he or she used.”
The 22-inch machines represent a leap forward for Le Métier de Beauté, a brand eager to experiment with technology that tried Microsoft Surface devices three years ago at the Neiman Marcus location at NorthPark Center in Dallas. The mirrors from MemoMi, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based digital imaging firm that’s outfitted Neiman Marcus sunglass displays as well in partnership with Luxottica, provide customers with videos of makeup application received in stores broken down in steps for the face, eyes, cheeks and lips, and guided by the Le Métier de Beauté makeup artist’s voice.
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Richard Blanch, founder and chief executive officer of Le Métier de Beauté, said the earlier Microsoft devices were far costlier for far worse quality videos than MemoMi’s videos captured with its mirrors. Back then, he detailed, “No matter how good we got it, you were still coming up pale. Now, it looks like you are sitting in front of incandescent lighting in your room. You can record yourself in about the highest quality you could ever get.”
Discussing Le Métier de Beauté’s investment in introducing video-capturing technology into stores, Blanch said it previously wasn’t economically feasible to scale such technology. “I could roll these out to every store with about the commitment it would have cost me for two stores back in 2012. I would say we are probably today at one-tenth or one-fifteenth the investment in terms of capital,” he estimated, noting the brand’s ability to track inventory and sales has also soared in the past few years, allowing it to effectively harness data obtained during Memory Makeovers session across stores and online.
Salvador Nissi Vilcovsky, founder and ceo of MemoMi, indicated the company helps brands like Le Métier de Beauté be sophisticated in its data collection and interpretation. “You can get analytics you never had like what products did they [customers] buy from the ones they tried. You can see everything they [customers] bought, everything they sampled, everything they are allergic to,” he said, adding, “The Holy Grail is to combine in store with out of store and, with Le Metier, we are able to do that. You [the customer] can get everything you tried by clicking on product links [that arrive with the videos].”
Blanch is bullish on the payoff of the Memory Makeover mirrors. He argued they could broaden the brand’s customer reach. “The girl who shops specialty retail — Sephora and Ulta — maybe she isn’t seeing something in department stores that engages her. She comes into a department store and feels it is not for her,” he said. “Hopefully, this will open up a dialog where she sees the department store as a fun space.” Blanch envisions inviting social-media influencers to stores to experience the Memory Makeover mirror and convey its power to followers.
While the souped-up mirrors could entice young shoppers to the brand, Blanch views them as impactful for existing Le Métier de Beauté customers, too. “We are a results-driven brand. Some of our products tend to be more complicated than your average product, and this is an opportunity for her to continue her education,” he said, elaborating, “We are looking to create a feedback loop. As you continue your ongoing education and storing the things you like and don’t like, we want to offer you the ability to have a continuous dialog with our artists and our staff to help answer your questions and perhaps challenge yourself to try new looks.”
Neiman Marcus is multiplying Memory Makeover mirrors in its stores next month by rolling them out to another nine beauty brands. Le Métier de Beauté is considering expanding their roles at its counters by injecting augmented reality capabilities and skin care into the product mix accessed by the mirrors, where before-and-after images can be revealed. “The mirror is the first step. We are getting customers comfortable with the technology in the store and seeing the value proposition,” Blanch said. “As great as YouTube is, it is still one-dimensional. You are watching a video, pausing it and trying to figure things out. The great advantage of this is the interactivity.”