From the integration of AR technology, to rewards upon purchase, beauty retail has been adopting gamification methods to enhance in-store and online experiences for many years now. But how can the beauty industry utilise gaming itself to promote the future of the industry, encourage more talent to enter it, and to celebrate those who have already reached icon status within the industry?
DREST launched as a fashion-styling app where it encourages users to get creative and complete digital styling tasks using pieces that you can find in-store, this month the app announced the launch of it’s Beauty Mode. Beauty Mode is a new up-close feature which means that users can utilise and develop their makeup skills on ‘hyper-realistic’ model avatars.
We spoke with DREST Founder and CEO Lucy Yeomans to find out more about the app, how it’s influencing the future of beauty, and what we can expect to see next from their leap into the realm of beauty.
There’s a big conversation around the future of beauty which is taking place in the industry – which includes questions on what sustainability means for us, how technology will influence consumers, brands and product, and how better diversity and representation can be achieved. How do you see the future of beauty, and will it include augmented or virtual reality like we’re already seeing in fashion?
“I love how dynamic the beauty industry is and how readily it has adopted new technology and gaming trends – much more quickly than some areas of the luxury industry – beauty has really been at the forefront of innovation in the consumer space. Many digital trends in this space were accelerated during the pandemic and for beauty retailers we’ve seen how they’ve had to adapt and adopt many of these, particularly to overcome some of the challenges around physical shopping, creating new experiences in the cosmetics and hair colour categories in particular.
Virtual product testing, product discovery and purchase not only overcomes physical barriers that we may all be facing at the moment when it comes to shopping, but also from a sustainability point of view means there is less wastage. For a huge global sector such as beauty, this is such a positive. Indeed one of the big benefits of beauty on DREST is that you can discover and ‘try before you buy’ in a sustainable and deeply creative space. We give users a fashion and beauty fix and a close up virtual encounter with their favourite brands. Discovery and engagement through play and creative expression lie at the core of the DREST experience, but of course, should players wish to learn more about or purchase any of the products they interact with they can via the app.
Technology advancements have also allowed brands to respond to changes to audience expectations, particularly in the younger demographics, with brand strategies evolving from product-centric strategies to more experience-orientated ones. Brands want and need to get closer to their audience and create deeper, longer-lasting connections. Fashion and beauty is about being able to experiment and play and that’s why it was so important for us to launch Beauty Mode within DREST. The number one driver for users of the game is creativity and experimentation which is why, in our user research, a player mode that focused on beauty specifically was the top new feature request we had from our players. With this now we offer our users the ability to try on the eye shadow, the contour, the mascara and nail polish etc.. in close-up (also allowing them to add the latest jewellery and a hint of fashion) to really create a look that is as realistic and reflective of real life styling as possible.
Personalisation and getting as close to what colours and skin tone look like IRL across all the spectrum of ethnicities is also key. I like to call the Drest approach RVR – Real items, made Virtual in a curated space that encourages experimentation, product discovery, education and above all fun and creativity, then shoppable if they so wish in Reality. With RVR, we’re also able to contextualise fashion and beauty via a wider, real world cultural lens – a film, music, art or even a topical news event or simply a fashion or beauty launch, by creating topical real-time challenges for the user in-game. Game development is fast moving and we are constantly iterating on features and listening to our players so every day we move the DREST experience forward. This is vital so we can satisfy our audience with new and exciting experiences that engage and thrill. We know that they also value the human connection and industry authority, so are thrilled when we can bring in tutorials, advice or looks from beauty pros such as Mary Greenwell or Sam McKnight. Recently in the fashion space we have had the shoe designer Christian Louboutin judge one of the challenges, selecting his top creations of the work produced by our players – the response from players was overwhelming.
In terms of the future, beauty brands will always be where their audience is and we are excited by the huge growth in female gaming audience and believe through DREST we provide an exciting, fun and uniquely interactive way for beauty brands to reach, engage and establish relationships with their customers. Drest is an accessible, interactive app which encourages creativity and self-expression from its users.”
How is Drest helping to encourage new talent enter the beauty industry?
“DREST gives everyone with an interest in Beauty styling access to some of the tools and product that experts have at their fingertips. With a choice of skin tones and facial features to work with, they can test color schemes, product combinations and make up applications to learn about what creates an impactful image. It also offers a platform where anyone anywhere has the opportunity to have their creations seen by brands and industry professionals, opening up the playing field and giving them a springboard into the industry. In its purest sense, simply showing players what is possible when it comes to beauty, allows them to see the potential of a career in the industry – if they see it, they can be it.”
You’ve partnered with some pretty iconic names in the beauty industry – Mary Greenwell and Sam McKnight. Can you tell us about how these partnerships came about, and why you chose to work with Mary and Sam for the app?
“When I came up with the idea for DREST, mobile gaming was a foreign concept to the fashion and beauty industry. I started to slowly sound out my ideas on some of the people I had collaborated with throughout my career as an Editor-in-Chief and Mary and Sam were two of the first. While both are legends in their fields, they are constantly forward thinking and keen to experiment with new ideas, so quickly started talking about how we could work together. We will be collaborating with other industry figures in the future, but we feel very lucky that this iconic duo were keen to come on this DREST journey right from the start and the work they have created in game is just incredible!”
As we’ve just explored, you have partnerships with some incredible names from both fashion and beauty, do you have any plans to expand your partnerships to include more beauty industry figures, perhaps experts in skincare and nails?
“It’s a natural next step, isn’t it? And is something our players has also asked for. So yes. There are a number of exciting partnerships in the works and a slew of new features to further elevate the Beauty experience on DREST, so we’re looking forward to sharing these very soon.”