Snapchat, a multimedia instant messaging platform, launched an augmented reality (AR) shoppable filter in January 2022 for two beauty companies- Ulta Beauty and MAC Cosmetics. The shoppable AR lenses are catalogue-powered, allowing users to switch through virtual make-up looks with a selection of various products and brands, linked directly to a company’s product catalogue.

Consumers are wary of touching or using product testers in outlets due to hygiene concerns amid the pandemic. Furthermore, with rising interest in online shopping, the introduction of technology-powered methods to visualize products or trying them on virtually is crucial, especially for younger generations. According to Snapchat, 93% of its users have shown interest in using AR filters for shopping, and the company’s users engage with its AR features more than six billion times a day*.

In the global make-up market, eRetail is forecast to be the largest distribution channel in terms of value sales in 2021. APAC and regions and Western Europe registered the highest interest in online shopping, with the Americas following behind^. The channel has been steadily growing over the last decade, but this growth was fast-tracked by the pandemic as consumers avoided visiting outlets. According to a GlobalData’s Q1 2021 consumer survey, consumers find ‘minimal social contact’, ‘sanitation and hygiene’, and ‘enjoyable shopping experience’ factors advantageous, which makes them prefer online shopping over an outlet visit.

Snapchat’s AR shopping experience is targeting consumers as well as companies. The AR shopping features within its application are easy to use for consumers and it provides product information, with updated details in real-time, along with product descriptions and purchase links. Moreover, consumers can share their virtual looks with products on social media, as consulting with others is crucial for social shopping. Conversely, beauty companies will receive more data to analyse and use real-time insights to target their consumers effectively. Any brand can upload their product catalogue on Snapchat to enable AR, with direct links to purchase, using this new AR shopping feature, which will also enable higher clicks on their online sales platforms.

Apart from beauty products, the AR shopping feature is being used across products, ranging from furniture to shoes. For instance, consumers can virtually try and customise NIKE shoes using Snapchat’s AR while Ikea created a shoppable game on Snapchat to give virtual impressions to consumers of how products will appear in their homes.

Other technology companies, such as Google and Instagram, are also following suit with shoppable make-up AR. Google launched AR makeup try-on, in partnership with Perfect Corp. and ModiFace, on Google Shopping while Instagram introduced AR makeup try-on for NYX, Urban Decay, and Lancome brands as part of its parent company Facebook’s partnership with L’Oréal, and its AR beauty company ModiFace.

The social shopping will be the future of online shopping as the younger generation will frequently shop online. The entire shopping experience, from product discovery to purchase, will take place on a social platform, and seamless integration of AR technology and the purchasing process will be key for success.

^ GlobalData Intelligence Center, Market Analyzer – accessed in January 2022

+ GlobalData 2021 Q1 Consumer Survey, published in March 2021

* Ulta Beauty Introduces Shoppable Snapchat AR Lens