The Transforming Face of Beauty | Alice H. Chang

The Transforming Face of Beauty | Alice H. Chang

Alice H. Chang

CEO, Perfect Corp

According to The Industry.Fashion, the introduction of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality technology to the beauty industry has modernised the capabilities of beauty brands and the experiences they can provide a consumer.

Augmented Reality (AR) is the modification of a real-life environment through digital features such as visual, audio or other sensory elements. Artificial Intelligence (AI) enhances this technology by offering a more in-depth and complex manipulation of an environment in this virtual space.

This technology is proving both popular and successful in the beauty industry because it can offer shoppers a personalised experience, which aims to make shopping much more targeted and easier for consumers.

Whether it’s through a skincare diagnostic selfie experience or a shade matching try-on, AI and AR provide a wide range of solutions to fit in with the needs of a beauty brand and its customers.

To provide these experiences, brands often work with technology companies specialising in AI and AR solutions.

With over 900 million downloads globally, Perfect Corp is a company dedicated to transforming how consumers, content creators and beauty brands interact together through AI and AR technologies.

Working with over 370 brands including Estée Lauder, No7, Barry M and MAC Cosmetics, Perfect Corp aims to use this technology to revolutionise beauty brands and the way they operate.

Alice Chang, CEO and Founder at Perfect Corp, explains: “Advanced technology such as AI and AR virtual try-on experiences are helping brands to create a seamless omnichannel strategy that provides customers with entertaining and personalised experiences that speak to the modern-day consumer.

“The implementation of this advanced technology also allows customers to spend more time connecting with a brand, either in-store or on the brand’s website, through interactive virtual experiences that allow customers to try-on more products than ever before and in turn have more positive, personalised shopping experiences that drive impactful results.”

In 2019, when Perfect Corp., the beauty tech solutions provider behind the world’s leading virtual beauty app YouCam Makeup, showcased their innovative new ‘Beauty AI’ personalized solutions at the AI Summit New York on December 11th and 12th, the industry was revolutionized. Alice presented ‘Mastering Beauty AI for Customer-Centric Solutions,’ spotlighting unique advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning technology and advancing the beauty industry by providing brands and retailers with unique solutions to deliver personalized recommendations modern-day consumer demands.

Chang’s presentation focused on key learnings for how brands can leverage smart ‘Beauty AI’ to better understand their customer needs and preferences and deliver a more tailored experience that drives conversions.

Chang identified the role of Beauty AI in better understanding user preferences and needs to master a customer-centric strategy. Through advanced image recognition and machine learning technology, smart beauty tech solutions help brands and retailers connect with consumers in a whole new way. The ability to instantly generate personalized style and product recommendations have helped drive a more customer-centric experience that speaks to the modern-day shopper.

Beauty AI solutions can be seamlessly integrated across all consumer touchpoints, driving a memorable omnichannel experience that boosts sales. Chang shared real-world examples and case studies that spotlight how brands successfully integrate Beauty AI to create personalized in-store, online, and mobile consumer shopping experiences.

Chang demonstrated the newest YouCam innovations in smart Beauty AI, including AI Shade Finder to match users with their best foundation match shades, AI Beauty Advisor to generate matching style and look recommendations based on consumer attributes and preferences, AI Skin Diagnostic, matching users with skincare product recommendations based on an instant skin reading of various skin conditions, and AI Hair for true-to-life live hair color try-on. Guests also had an opportunity to preview the technology firsthand at the onsite interactive showcase.

“AI has become a game changer in the beauty industry and transformed the beauty shopper experience. We are so excited to showcase the newest Beauty AI solutions at AI Summit New York and help brands drive their business with unique smart beauty technology,” said Perfect Corp. founder and CEO Alice Chang. “As consumer demand evolves, unique Beauty AI solutions helps brands better understand shopper preferences and cater to their needs. These AI-solutions are essential for the brands and retailers to implement a customer-centric strategy, providing beauty consumers with personalized recommendations to effectively drive conversions.”

Chang is the definition of an innovator and a trailblazer. She is always thinking ten steps ahead and identifying opportunities and industry shifts or trends miles before anyone else. Her ability to quickly pivot and seamlessly adapt to the ever-changing consumer beauty landscape is something that has kept her ahead of the pack. She isn’t afraid to try the never-been-done-before; it’s this mindset that motivates and challenges her team to ‘always be innovating.’

The company’s ‘Beauty 3.0’ artificial intelligence (AI) and AR solutions offer customers the power or features of AI Product Recommendations, AI Smart Shade Finder, AI Skin Diagnostic, AI Live Hair Multi-Color Effects. The YouCam difference lies in the unmatched level of accuracy from virtual try-on, which seamlessly replicates real-life beauty try-on. The patented advanced YouCam beauty technology recognizes over 100 facial points in less than .02 seconds, considering skin tone, color matching, and lighting conditions to ensure the most accurate and instantaneous virtual try-on imaginable. “This precise digital experience has been reimagined from in-app, to global beauty enterprise, and to a self-service YouCam for Web solution, enabling small and medium businesses to easily leverage the benefits of virtual try-on beauty tech,” says Chang. “Perfect Corp. recognized the impact that virtual try-on as for a business—the more consumers try, the more they buy—and the challenges faced by indie businesses who didn’t have the lofty budgets to invest in programming and engineering.” Perfect Corp. can provide a personalized digital beauty experience with product recommendations across various categories by leveraging both AI and AR technologies, including cosmetics, skincare, and hair color. “Virtual try-on and personalized product recommendation not only help to boost consumer confidence when making purchase decisions, but also give brands and retailers a chance to reimagine their consumer journey,” adds Chang.

Perfect Corp. is constantly innovating and finding unique ways to utilize advanced AI, AR, and machine learning technologies to improve the beauty shopping experience for consumers, brands, retailers, and content creators. Advancements in AI and AR have helped create virtual beauty experiences that rival physical ones, unlocking a new level of discovery, experimentation, and personalization that was not possible in the past.

As a beauty tech company, Chang recognizes how their services can help bridge the gap between the beauty industry and the beauty consumers during an otherwise challenging time in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To help beauty brands connect with their consumer despite the physical divide, Perfect Corp. offers various digital-first services to help brands maintain customer engagements via digital means. “We also invite brands to join the YouCam Makeup consumer app experience where they can tap into a niche beauty-centric audience to drive awareness and sales,” adds Chang. “We hope that by helping brands connect with their teams and their consumers across these different digital touchpoints we will help alleviate some of the challenges faced during this unprecedented time.”

From Target to Estée Lauder

However, Perfect has a much larger business, as it licenses its virtual try-on technology to more than 300 major retailers and beauty brands, including Target, Sally Beauty, Neutrogena, and Estee Lauder.

For instance, Estée Lauder uses the company’s apps for both in-store and online consultations with customers, as well as to help clients pick foundation shades using an AI-powered “smart shade finder.” The company reported a 2.5X high conversion rate from virtual try-on solutions.

Perfect also licenses a “YouCam for Web” product to smaller merchants for $399 to $799 a month. Chang said that the app is “targeted toward small and medium businesses that are looking for a more turnkey and affordable solution to effectively integrate advanced AR and AI beauty tech across their websites/eCommerce.”

Investment from Banking to Beauty Tech

Chang, who holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, founded Perfect after nearly two decades at CyberLink, an AI facial recognition company that she launched in 1996 and took to a Taiwan Stock Exchange IPO.

CyberLink develops multimedia software and facial recognition technology for video conferencing and other applications. Chang remains on the company’s board, which currently has more than an $8.5 billion market capitalization.

Chang originally worked as a CitiCorp investment consultant, then became Trend Micro’s chief financial officer in the mid-1990s before launching CyberLink. “I jumped into a career in the IT industry when I recognized the power and opportunity presented by technology,” she says. “[I] founded Cyberlink to help advance technology for the enjoyment of people.”

The entrepreneur eventually shifted over to Perfect because she “recognized the practical application of AR facial recognition and mobile technologies in the selfie photo-editing and beauty space,” she adds. “As a beauty lover, I [saw] how AR technologies could play to improve existing pain points in the beauty shopping journey. Perfect Corp. was born with the focus of re-imaging the consumer beauty experience through advanced technology that helps individuals discover, try, share and shop for beauty.”

A ‘Perfect’ Suite of Apps for the COVID-19 Era

According to Chang, the pandemic only proved AR and AI’s value to the beauty industry, which had to quickly pivot away from its traditional brick-and-mortar makeup counters and face-to-face interactions with customers.

“Our AI- and AR-powered beauty tech solutions have been a lifeline for brands to amplify their online business and create more personalized, engaged digital shopping experiences,” she says. The CEO noted that virtual try-on using Perfect’s apps shot up 32 percent during the pandemic’s early months. “Our contactless digital try-on solutions speak to the growing global health and hygiene concerns [by] offering shoppers a safe, convenient and effective way to try before they buy.”

$50 Million in Fresh Funding

Investors like the image that the company is projected.

Xinyi Feng, a managing director in Goldman’s merchant banking division, said in announcing this month’s funding that her firm believes “the integration of technology through artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality into the beauty industry will unlock significant advantages — including amplification of digital sales channels, increased personalization and deeper consumer engagement.”

Chang said Perfect would use the new money to scale up its operations, continue AI tech investment and continue global expansion. Headquartered in Taiwan, the company currently operates in 11 countries and has 230 staffers spread across 14 cities around the globe. The company also reportedly got an investment in 2019 from Alibaba as part of a strategic partnership.

Pushing the AR Envelope

Chang said Perfect aims to expand its apps over time, from today’s focus on makeup, skin, and hair to include accessories like eyewear and jewelry. She said the company also wants to get into “personality-product matching that opens doors to fragrance and beyond.”

The CEO states she’s motivated to build out Perfect because she believes that “experimenting with beauty through virtual try-on is an empowering experience.”

“It gives you the confidence and skills of a professional makeup artist to discover and experiment with styles you may have never tried in real life,” Chang says. “I like to continue pushing the envelope on what’s possible [and] deliver never-been-done-before solutions to improve the beauty-shopping experience.”

Alice H. Chang Award

“The implementation of this advanced technology also allows customers to spend more time connecting with a brand, either in-store or on the brand’s website, through interactive virtual experiences that allow customers to try-on more products than ever before and in turn have more positive, personalised shopping experiences that drive impactful results.”

Alice H. Chang

CEO, Perfect Corp

Cover Page The corporate magazine Women leaders edition feb 2022
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