The L’Oréal Beauty Lab in New York City’s posh Chelsea neighborhood contains a new secret weapon in the ongoing battle for key retailer partnerships and consumer insights: an ultra-high resolution (4K) immersive visualization solution. Virtual reality engagement with their retail partners enables L’Oréal to bring the store to the retailer, whether it’s the local Walmart or Mannings in Hong Kong. By applying a business methodology and a focus on growing their relationships in the beauty industry, L’Oréal is utilizing VR for everything from future store concepts to qualitative packaging tests. Immersive virtual technology enables L’Oréal designers to get a true feeling for products, shelves, and store layouts before development ever begins.
“We like to think of the Lab as the place where big ideas are allowed to happen,” says Joe Sinisi, assistant vice president of the Future of Retail team. “Collaboration has always been at the heart of our relationship with our retailers, this room just takes it to a whole other level.”
Geoff Meade, one of the program’s key initiators who has since moved on to the E-Commerce team concurs, “There are a lot of costs associated with fixtures, plastics, and design testing with cosmetics,” he says. “We used to physically build everything before we could get a true feel of what something would look like. This solution gives us the ability to further refine and test concepts without incurring those development costs.”
L’Oréal partnered with Mechdyne Corporation to design and integrate the virtual reality solution. Drawing inspiration from a similar solution Mechdyne designed for L’Oréal’s corporate headquarters in Paris, the Future of Retail team proposed to visualize and test packaging and store layouts in a virtualized store. The idea became a reality in the form of the new Beauty Lab in New York City: a 13-foot by 7-foot 3840 x 2160 resolution Powerwall.
With the virtual store, L’Oréal strengthens industry ties while also lowering development costs by:
- Taking retailers on their “World Tour” of best in class international retailers
- Working through Store of the Future conceptual designs
- Understanding best practices for layouts, style guides, trays, and fixtures
- Working with vendors to finalize store layouts and update shelf designs based on product arrangement optimizations in the virtual space
- Integrating into the L’Oréal Consumer Technical Center for qualitative feedback on merchandising concepts
It began with The Beauty Shakers Awards, an internal innovation competition that spans L’Oréal’s biggest markets across three continents. As part of L’Oréal’s entrepreneurial culture, any employee is invited to submit their ideas to drive sustainability, innovation, excellence, and creativity. Finalists and semi-finalists present their ideas to L’Oréal’s executive leadership team as part of the awards process before winners are announced at the annual Beauty Shakers Awards event. The leadership team also saw the value in the Beauty Lab solution.
“L’Oréal will be able to simulate in-store walk-throughs in full-scale with this solution,” says Mechdyne senior vice president James Gruening. “After seeing the positive results the Paris Beauty Lab has achieved with their Mechdyne solution, we are happy to see this success extended to New York.”
L’Oréal’s goals don’t stop with American retailers and minimizing development costs. Integration has already begun with shared projects between their Paris and New York Labs. In the long-term, the Future of Retail team hopes to collaborate with their Parisian counterparts more regularly, to realize more seamless global integrations.
“This solution will allow us to fully evaluate why and how new concepts work in local retail markets, and into the larger global market as well,” says Sinisi. “Mechdyne’s solution will help us understand what’s working across the globe.”
L’Oréal has devoted itself to beauty for over 105 years. With its unique international portfolio of 32 diverse and complementary brands, the Group generated sales amounting to 25.26 billion euros in 2015 and employs 82,900 people worldwide. As the world’s leading beauty company, L’Oréal is present across all distribution networks: mass market, department stores, pharmacies and drugstores, hair salons, travel retail, branded retail, and e-commerce.
Research and innovation, and a dedicated research team of 3,870 people, are at the core of L’Oréal’s strategy, working to meet beauty aspirations all over the world. L’Oréal’s sustainability commitment for 2020 “Sharing Beauty With All” sets out ambitious sustainable development objectives across the Group’s value chain. Visit www.loreal.com to learn more.
Mechdyne Corporation is a broad-based technology partner specializing in audiovisual and information technologies (AV/IT), visualization and software solutions, immersive virtual reality technologies, and technical support services. We address complex projects where an in-depth understanding of user requirements leads to the development of customized solutions involving elements of display, graphics computing, software, and professional services. Headquartered in Marshalltown, Iowa, Mechdyne serves a global client base that includes leading government laboratories, university and research centers, energy, aerospace, manufacturing, and medical organizations, as well as any other user of advanced technology. For more information, visit www.mechdyne.com.