According to Ian Wu, beauty online sales have reached a ceiling of 30% of the global market. To him, although they have always known the Internet, the Generation Z has not deserted physical stores. “The concept consisting in testing before buying is very important to them, and beauty advisors still play an essential role,” he said, as there are no other explanations than the relative stagnation of the share of online beauty sales.
Skin analysis in stores
To stimulate sales in stores, Meitu has developed a skin analysis device. It is now possible to test customers’ skins at the point of sale and recommend them specific products. Meitu sells these devices to brands or retailers and offers a licensing agreement to use the associated software.
“Our licensing agreement currently offers facial feature analysis, skin testing, and skincare/makeup product recommendation technologies. These technologies will enhance the retail experience by allowing consumers to better understand their skin condition and purchase the products that best fit their needs,” said Ian Wu.
It seems the company has decided to focus on this type of software and to gradually withdraw from telephony. For example, last November, the group signed a partnership with fellow Chinese Xiaomi, who acquired the Meitu Smartphone exclusive license. “The deal will allow Meitu to better focus on developing its next-generation image processing, AI technologies, and image algorithms,” the group emphasized.
The group is proud of its status of personalized beauty pioneer in China. Countless selfie retouch applications were developed in the country, after the launch of Meitu’s flagship application (美图, beautiful picture) and BeautyCam and BeautyPlus video applications – a range said to count 1.5 billion users around the world, including over a third outside China.
For example, the My Beauty function on the flagship Meitu App allows users to personalize their beautification settings according to their preferences by logging into their Meitu Accounts (MTid). The criteria a user can personalize include, but are not limited to, the smoothness of the skin, the preservation of specific facial attribute(s) (such as a beauty mark), facial structure adjustments, facial and/or body reshaping, and eye size adjustment. Once set, these effects will be saved for all future logins and may be readjusted at any time.
Online marketing and Big Data
This analysis provides brands with insights into customers’:
- Makeup and skincare product preferences
- Behavior, such as their number of SKU clicks, sessions, purchases, usage duration, and purchase rate
- Consumer needs based on their skin conditions such as skin age, blackheads, acne, dark-circles, and wrinkles
- Users can also choose to input their demographic information such as age and gender
“All of these insights can be used to help businesses develop their marketing strategies and enable them to create multiple online touch points that can re-engage customers, or even reach a similar audience through precision marketing”, explained Ian Wu, to whom the targeted use of data is “the future of online marketing”.
There is a last pending issue, though: personal data protection. Meitu promises that “the purpose and scope of our data collection is strictly limited to the normal operation of our products and their functions”. Quite a hot topic!