How new beauty shopping apps are trying to shape social commerce

person choosing makeup from oversized mobile screen

Key things

Consumers follow beauty content but don’t necessarily buy through social platforms.

New apps like Trendio, Flip, Supergreat and Agora are trying to replicate the engagement generated by TikTok through live and short video, while offering beauty consumers a fun and easy way to find and buy beauty products.

Amazon is betting on social commerce with its Inspire featurea Tik-Tok-style feed with representation of several categories.

Beauty content on social media is no longer just about product reviews. From “get ready with me” videos to the “de-influencer” trend of overhyped products, social media is flooded with health and beauty video content that influences and drives discovery of new brands and products.

According to RetailX and ChannelAdvisor’s ‘Health & Beauty Marketplaces’ report, 45% of beauty shoppers say they are “somewhat likely” to buy a product recommended by a content creator, compared to 41% of regular online shoppers. However, consumers are often still reluctant to buy beauty directly from social channels, with e-commerce marketplaces like Sephora and Amazon still generating the largest share of the market.

A new set of social shopping platforms is hoping to change that. By combining social video with e-commerce features, examples like Trendio, Agora, Flip and Supergreat encourage consumers to consume content and buy beauty in dedicated apps using a combination of live and pre-recorded video. But will these new social platforms lure users away from TikTok and could they steal shoppers away from Amazon and Sephora?

Leveraging the popularity of short video content

TikTok has changed the way beauty brands market to consumers, with the platform popularizing a more authentic and less polished style of advertising. The platform’s algorithm also means that anyone can become an influencer and products can go viral without brands investing in massive marketing campaigns. But while TikTok’s e-commerce capabilities are growing—thanks to its partnership with Shopify, which now allows merchant accounts to showcase their products—consumers typically don’t use the app for shopping purposes, with the platform’s main USP being entertainment. Matt Moorut, principal analyst at Gartner, told Vogue Business that only 10 to 11% of American consumers actually make purchases through social platforms.

“People go to social with a different mindset than Sephora,” Trendio co-founder Alex Perez-Tenessa told RetailX. However, Perez-Tenessa – former VP of Prime Video US – thinks apps like Trendio can fill a gap in the market where customers can fulfill their desire to be both entertained and educated, and most importantly, reach the Buy mindset.

Replicating the in-store beauty experience

Video shopping apps like Trendio aim to mimic the traditional in-store experience, where staff at beauty counters offer help and advice to customers on which products are best for them. The goal is to counter the overwhelming feeling consumers can feel on social media, which can make it difficult for customers to buy the right products.

“Beauty products are complicated,” Perez-Tenessa told TechCrunch. “They have to be demonstrated for customers to really understand their value. And the way the digital retail landscape has evolved has not been in the direction of making it easier for both brands and consumers.”

Earlier this year, Trendio also introduced AI features to the platform to automatically adjust videos to suit each user’s unique preferences based on their previous viewing habits and interactions.

Ensuring honesty and authenticity with verified creators

TikTok is known for “authenticity” — encouraging peer-to-peer conversations and community-driven content — but it’s also a hotbed of brand sponsorship, or “spon-con,” making it difficult to determine whether creators are offering a biased opinion. . The “reduction in influence” trend has recently exposed this, with creators launching popular products that aren’t really worth the hype.

With a stricter vetting process, apps like Trendio and Flip aim to promote true authenticity. For example, Flip allows only users who have purchased a product through its app to create video reviews, and prohibits both brands and creators from posting sponsored content. Trendio tests content creators to ensure they meet a high standard and only works with brands that meet strict criteria.

The desire to create a community of real and honest beauty consumers is also the mission of Supergreat, which uses elements of gamification to keep users interested. When users create a review or refer a friend, they can earn “supercoins” that can be exchanged for products. “We don’t expect our users to have a massive following or to be influencers,” co-founders Tyler Faux and Daniel Blackman explained to L’Officiel USA. “Anyone can show up to Supergreat just to chat about the products they like, and they can actually make friends and connect with other people who are also super beauty fans.”

For participating influencers, monetization outside of brand sponsorship is a growing incentive. Creators on Agora receive a share of any sales made during live events, while Supergreat creators also share in the revenue of any sales they help generate in the app. Riccardo Basile, co-founder and CEO of Agora, says companies like it will “empower a new category of entrepreneurs” by creating opportunities for creators outside of traditional brand sponsorship. This could drive creators away from TikTok or YouTube Shorts, where earnings (for smaller creators) may be limited.

Promotion of live broadcasts for Western audiences

Another key element of new social commerce platforms is live streaming. Supergreat hosts multiple live events hosted by brand founders and influencers every day. Ulta Beauty partnered with the platform for a series of live events in 2021, during which more than a third of attendees reportedly added products to their wishlists and spent an average of 35 minutes tweaking. While Supergreat is reportedly testing in-app checkout, its partnership with Ulta Beauty included directing users to Ulta’s website for checkout.

Agora and Trendio are also betting on live streaming, with Riccardo Basile, co-founder of Agora, telling RetailX: “Some live streams have a conversion rate of up to 10%.

It could be argued that live streaming is perhaps better suited for commerce and category-specific platforms such as these new entrants. However, it’s notable that live streaming as a whole has yet to catch on in Western countries, with a recent Wired headline referring to the live streaming e-commerce model as “bullshit”. Facebook and Instagram shut down their live shopping features this year. Amazon Live launched in 2019, and the tech giant increased its investment last year as it attracted more influencers to the platform. TikTok is also investing.

For beauty marketplaces like Ulta Beauty, which has previously invested in its own live streams, Supergreat’s potential benefits lie in reaching an already highly engaged community.

Enid Hwang, head of community and marketing at Supergreat, explained to Glossy that live events are exposed to the entire community. “You don’t necessarily have to follow these creators to see the live streams and see that carousel that’s promoted to you at the top of everyone’s home screen.”

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Amazon is not giving up on social commerce…

With new platforms aimed at generating sales, leading e-commerce marketplaces are also persisting with social commerce. Last December, Amazon announced the launch of Inspire, a TikTok-style feed that lets users buy products featured in short video and photo content. While Inspire will focus on more than just beauty – expanding into categories including pets, sports and interior design – the feature is designed to refine consumer preferences over time and offer them an inspiring way to shop for products in a social media style. Environment.

Of course, Amazon has cloned a number of popular social formats over the years, including the Instagram-style Amazon Spark and the Pinterest-like Interesting Finds. Whether Amazon finds success with Inspire remains to be seen, but Trendio and Flip, for example, hope to change the way consumers shop. and use social media – Amazon unsurprisingly likes to keep its hat in the ring.

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