We Went to COVERGIRL's NYC Store and Found a New Way to Shop for Makeup
2018 was without a doubt the year of drugstore makeup. From becoming more inclusive in their shade ranges to revamping the quality of their products, drugstore brands have seriously stepped it up. One of the most improved brands, COVERGIRL. With the release of their TruBlend Matte Made liquid foundation that comes in 40 shades, overall packaging update and becoming 100 percent cruelty-free, CoverGirl rounded up the year by opening their first brick and mortar store in Times Square.
Marketing Manager, Ariadne, and CEO, Atima, visited the new COVERGIRL store to fully immerse themselves in COVERGIRL’s new beauty era. The store houses the full assortment of over 1,000 COVERGIRL products and takes a different approach to shopping for makeup. Customers who visit are in for an experience that goes far beyond finger swatches and makeup remover. There are mirrors that function as augmented reality screens where customers can virtually try on makeup. There is Olivia, a virtual greeter made in collaboration with Google, who can answer questions, recommend products and give advice. The bright lights and photo booth setups are literally made for Instagram photos and iconic boomerangs. You can even design your own lipstick packaging.
Overall, the COVERGIRL store had an inviting atmosphere. There were signs that said “Nude is not beige!” and seeing that some of their complexion products have a fair to rich shade range, you get the sense that they are on the right track. The employees truly loved talking about makeup and had plenty of good advice for different skin tones and types.
But still, there was one question: can these technologies recognize and advise people with a variety of skin tones. Ironically, the biggest selling point of the store’s innovative technology did not work to its full potential. While Olivia helped us try on an array of lipsticks, eyeliners and foundations, she wasn’t able to recommend potential shade matches. In fact, none of the technology in the store had the ability to color match skin tones to COVERGIRL products.
The brand has taken major steps to improving and showcasing their more inclusive shade range, so it would make sense that their new technology should too. They even went so far as to replace Queen Latifa’s COVERGIRL Queen Collection with their new Full Spectrum line inspired by women of color to support their strides to include all skin tones. Why not have Olivia show what could work for your skin?
It is no secret that artificial intelligence has fallen short when it comes to recognizing diversity. The racial bias in technology has whitewashed skin tones and even completely failed to recognize people of color. For COVERGIRL, this was a missed opportunity and a potential for growth. Their flagship store is prime for smarter technology - the controlled environment eliminates the unpredictability of lighting and contrast, two explanations often given to justify racial bias built into AI.
Technology that recognizes the nuances of skin tones from fair to rich and everything in between is possible. Hopefully in the future, COVERGIRL will consider enabling Olivia with new skills in skin tone recognition while revamping their shade offerings in all of their foundation and concealer lines.