L’Oreal has launched a new iPhone app with the dual aim of promoting its INOA hair colour range and driving customers into its salons.

INOA Colour Capture uses geolocation and augmented reality (AR) to allow users to grab one of thousands of virtual bubbles that will be released around the UK in September.

Users can either win a hair colouring service from one of the participating salons or a colour care sample pack.

It is L’Oreal’s first foray into mobile as it doesn’t have an e-commerce platform – products are instead sold through partners.

Therefore the app is designed as a marketing tool and to drive footfall, not to directly sell products. In sounds good in theory, but is it any good?


The app has a very simple design that clearly signposts that fact that it is primarily about competitions and promotions.

There are five tabs; two for the bubble capture promotion; a separate prize draw; a video channel and an information tab about INOA products.

Most users will likely head straight to the colour capture tab that allows you to grab bubbles using either an AR street view, Google maps or straightforward list of participating salons.

The AR view is a good novelty and fun to use, but the other two views are quite puzzling as it takes the competition element out of it. The map and list views allowed me to claim prizes from anywhere in the UK. 


Presumably the idea is that people won’t bother capturing a bubble from a salon in Scotland if they live in London as they won’t be able to actually get up there to claim the prize. But it seems strange to let them capture the bubble it in the first place.

Once consumers have captured a bubble they have up until the end of October to claim their prize.

The video section is another interesting feature as at the moment it only contains a single L’Oreal advert. The competition only last two months, though L’Oreal says it plans to run it again in future, so the app probably won’t get any usage once the contest is over.

Therefore it’s difficult to work out what additional content L’Oreal will upload to this section, if any, as it probably won’t get much use. 


L’Oreal’s app is extremely simple to use and has limited functionality, which in many ways makes it the perfect marketing tool.

The primary motivation is to give users vouchers that they have to go in-store to redeem so it shouldn’t be overly complicated.

It will also collect a great deal of customer data. Users have to give their name, email and phone number in order to redeem the vouchers, which is more difficult to collect when issuing paper vouchers.


So as a marketing tool the app should have some success and with more than 110,000 prizes on offer it should clock up a decent number of downloads.

However due to the limited functionality it probably isn’t designed for long-term use or consumer engagement.