Make-up meets virtual world

Make-up meets virtual world

Which natural cosmetics brand will be the first to enter the Metaverse?

Projection on a women holding a smartphone and wearing smart glasses

Ever since the Facebook Group changed its name to Meta in the fall of 2021, the term "metaverse" has kept experts busy and given rise to some bold speculation. Analysts at McKinsey & Company, for example, have come to the conclusion that the metaverse has the potential to reach a value of up to 5 trillion US dollars by 2030 - in other words, it is too big to ignore1. "The metaverse represents a strategic inflection point for companies and presents a huge opportunity to influence the way we live, connect, learn, innovate and collaborate," says Dennis Spillecke, Head of the Growth, Marketing & Sales Practice in Western Europe at McKinsey. Some conventional cosmetics manufacturers have already recognized this, but among the representatives of natural cosmetics, the places for the pioneers are still up for grabs.


The potential of the metaverse: When science fiction becomes reality

The idea of the metaverse is not new and has its roots in the science fiction literature of the 1950s. In the 1992 science fiction novel "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson, the term "metaverse" was used for the first time to describe a virtual, real parallel world. Put simply, it refers to a kind of collective virtual space created by the convergence of physical and digital reality. In this virtual universe, users can interact through avatars and even buy and sell digital goods. The metaverse is based on technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and blockchain.

The metaverse is often seen as the next generation of the internet and has the ability to fundamentally change the way we interact and do business. Even if most metaverse worlds today still have a comic book look and seem like a new gimmick on the World Wide Web - rather than serious technological progress - Joost van Dreunen, professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, never tires of reminding us: "For a long time, people referred to cars as horseless carriages or cell phones as cordless phones. We move forward by looking in the rearview mirror. We define the new in relation to the old. However, this is usually only a phase. Over time, it evolves - and the new becomes something of its own."

The importance of the Metaverse therefore goes beyond pure entertainment. It offers the opportunity to experience social, professional and economic activities in an immersive and interactive way. In the future, the metaverse could also offer the natural cosmetics industry a platform where consumers can experience, test and buy products virtually. After all, up to 60 percent of millennials are already considering purchases in virtual worlds2


Don't leave the metaverse to conventional cosmetics brands

The unfolding of the metaverse brings with it a wealth of possibilities that could revolutionize the way we interact and do business. One key aspect is the creation of immersive experiences: VR and AR technologies allow users to immerse themselves in virtual worlds and experience products in a 3D environment before making a purchase. In the traditional cosmetics industry, several brands have already gained metaverse experience, including L'Oréal, Clinique and Buxom.

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Maybelline New York and L'Oréal Professionnel Looks für Ready Player Me Maybelline New York and L'Oréal Professionnel Looks für Ready Player Me 

1. Case-Study Metaverse: L'Oréal x Ready Player Me

L'Oréal has already launched several Metaverse projects. One of these is the partnership with the cross-game avatar platform Ready Player Me. The two L'Oréal brands Maybelline New York and L'Oréal Professionnel are providing exclusive make-up and hair styles for avatar creation on Ready Player Me. This means they can be used on more than 4,000 platforms and apps worldwide. L'Oréal worked with renowned make-up and hair stylists as well as 3D artists to create the extraordinary looks. "We believe that the future of beauty will be physical, digital and virtual," says Asmita Dubey, Chief Digital & Marketing Officer of the L'Oréal Group.

Seamless virtual Clinique Lab

2. Case-Study Metaverse: Clinique x Journee

With the support of the award-winning Berlin start-up Journee, the American cosmetics manufacturer Clinique has integrated a virtual world into its online store: The Clinique Lab. If you ask Journee what is special about Clinique's Metaverse, it sounds like this: it combines "for the first time, high-quality, live-rendered, gamified mass multiplayer 3D with the power of e-commerce" - or more simply: the linking of online retail and virtual worlds without sales-inhibiting media breaks. "Unlike our retail stores, the virtual lab is an open world without physical boundaries, offering endless possibilities for design and storytelling," says Charmi Panchal, Executive Director of Global E-Commerce at Clinique.

BUXOM Cosmetics PlumpVerse

3. Case-Study Metaverse: Buxom Cosmetics x Decentraland

In the Buxom PlumpVerse, a virtual brand world within one of the largest metaverse portals Decentraland, users were able to explore the cosmetics brand Buxom for six months at the beginning of 2023, interact with it and take part in gamification experiences. Highlights included unlocking rewards and virtually trying on newly launched Buxom products using an AR filter.

From an economic perspective, the metaverse offers significant opportunities: virtual stores and services could open up new sources of income while promoting brand presence and customer loyalty. The possibility of opening virtual boutiques where consumers can experience products before they buy them could also represent a sustainable business model for natural cosmetics brands, which has clearly not yet been exploited.

The possibilities of the Metaverse for the natural cosmetics industry

The Metaverse can revolutionize the natural cosmetics industry by creating unique, interactive platforms for product showcasing, testing, distribution and education. Consumers could come together in virtual beauty salons and stores, exchange information about products, watch virtual make-up tutorials together or even take part in virtual beauty competitions. This could foster a closer connection between consumers and brands while creating a community of like-minded people. "The metaverse is generally a social space and not, as some might think, a virtual world where you isolate yourself from other people," confirms René Schulte, metaverse expert at metaverse service provider reply.

In addition, it is conceivable that the Metaverse could facilitate access to education and training by providing virtual training platforms for the latest trends and techniques in the natural cosmetics industry. These could be made accessible to both consumers and professionals in the industry, contributing to further education and a better understanding of the benefits and applications of natural cosmetics. Virtual tours of sustainable production facilities or interactive learning modules on the benefits of natural cosmetics would be approaches to raise awareness of organic cosmetics and promote brand loyalty.

A holistic view: the downsides of the metaverse

The metaverse opens a door to new markets and business models for manufacturers and retailers of natural cosmetics. By creating virtual boutiques and experience centers, brands could build a closer connection with their customers and enable them to experience products in a new, interactive environment. However, developing authentic and valuable virtual experiences sometimes requires significant investment in technology, design and creativity. Data security and privacy issues are also important. This is because an enormous amount of data is generated in the metaverse, and protecting this data is crucial in order not to jeopardize consumer trust. Fortunately, the energy footprint of the metaverse can no longer simply be swept under the carpet.

"Contrary to the exaggerated expectations that are often spread, it should be noted that the metaverse is still at an early stage of development. The technology and infrastructure need to be further developed to enable the full realization of the metaverse," explains Elmar Arnunov, Research Lead Metaverse at Deutsche Telekom and author of "Die Metaverse (R)evolution - das virtuelle Ökosystem". Metaverse technology is therefore complex and has yet to be fully implemented. But the vision is big and promises a seamless immersion in virtual worlds that blurs the boundaries between reality and digital simulation.

In this new world, the principles of sustainable and natural cosmetics should also be present in an innovative way instead of leaving the field to conventional brands. Perhaps we will already see the first announcements or presentations in this direction at the international trade fair for natural cosmetics VIVANESS, which will take place in Nuremberg from February 13 to 16, 2024?


Elfriede Dambacher

Elfriede Dambacher

Owner of naturkosmetik konzepte, international industry expert and book author