Sephora and Google Partner on Hands-Free Experience

Beauty is going hands-free — at least when it comes to devices.

On Wednesday morning, Google and Sephora revealed a first-of-its-kind partnership for both industry leaders. The tech giant and beauty retailer unveiled a vanity installation at Sephora's Union Square location that features Google's newly launched Home Hub. Starting today, customers will be able to interact with and purchase the Google Home Hub at 10 Sephora stores country-wide — including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago — and stream the more than 2,500 videos available in Sephora's YouTube library.

"It is the first time we’ve sold a tech product like this," said Kristy Frivold, senior director of innovation and omni experiences at Sephora. "We are leading this space for custom content on YouTube for beauty as a retailer. To partner with Google, it was a perfect marriage."

Google Home Hub retails for $149 and will be sold online at sephora.com and in 10 U.S. Sephora doors. The device comes in four colors and can also be used for non-beauty-related activities such as cooking, voice assistance and controlling other smart home devices.

Sephora, which just reached 1 million YouTube subscribers, has been ramping up its video content as more people than ever are searching for beauty tutorials on YouTube. According to Julia Chen Davidson, Google's head of partner marketing for home products, there were 81 million beauty-related YouTube searches in 2017 — roughly 220,000 searches a day.

"We grounded ourselves in the insight that people were looking for beauty how-to content on YouTube," Chen Davidson said. "As the leading beauty retailer in the world, Sephora is not only the destination for millions of people for beauty, they’re also the authority in terms of how to pull off that look with their beauty directors and videos on their YouTube channel."

A hands-free beauty experience is ideal for makeup mavens. Avid YouTube tutorial viewers will no longer have to worry about getting makeup all over their phones, where to prop their phones or using their fingers to pause and start videos, as Google Home Hub is voice-activated. Hands-free also makes for a more communal experience and, according to Chen Davidson, is where Google is focusing its efforts.

"At Google Home, we are always trying to make our users’ lives easier," she said. "We recognize that people lead chaotic, busy lives, particularly those who have kids, and we think the idea of a hands-free interaction model is the way that technology is going. We’re also cognizant of the fact that technology sometimes can be invasive. You check the weather on your phone and before you know it, it’s been 10 minutes and you’ve been looking at e-mails. Our goal for this device is to give you that hands-free help at a glance so you can get the information you need and go back to doing the things that really matter — getting out the house, getting dinner on the table or relaxing in the evening."

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