Recently we had an opportunity to speak with Elena Zheng, the Global Public Relations Coordinator at Meitu, Inc. about MakeupPlus
Please share with us the backstory of what motivated you to create this app.
MakeupPlus is one of Meitu's flagship apps. Like all of our apps, we focused on our users' needs. Over a third of our users report that they are less likely to experiment with lip color products compared to eye shadow, blush, and other elements of their makeup looks. For many, it's not hygienic, easy or practical to experiment with lip products in-store. This was what inspired us to launch MakeupPlus' COUNTER feature a few months ago. It is just like a walk down the makeup aisle at the convenience of your smartphones. Already, fan favorite brands are hopping onboard with Benefit Brows in the U.K., Victoria Secret and Urban Decay in the Asia Pacific, Charlotte Tilbury and LimeCrime in the U.S., and so on.
With this launch, it also opened the gateway for brands to engage with its users in a transformative way. Already, the brands are already seeing incredible engagement on the app. With this exciting new feature to our app, our leading technology in augmented reality accurately applies lip and makeup products to render unique finishes live through a smartphone camera, offering brands to engage with shoppers like never before. Leveraging Meitu's technology leadership and global user base, we are building a mobile beauty ecosystem where users can discover, create and share new looks, beginning with MakeupPlus.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
MakeupPlus stems from the vision to create a global platform of self-expression, whether it is through creating expressive photos, trying unique virtual makeup looks, or wearing fun AR filters. This vision is helping us bridge the gap between mobile technology and product brands by opening the channel for more partnerships. In the U.S., fan favorite brands like Charlotte Tilbury and LimeCrime are already available for live try-on in our COUNTER feature, and the Asia Pacific territories have partnered with over twenty-five brands with more than a hundred products available. Our long-term goal is to create a strong community where our users can create, discover and share new looks, and express themselves by bringing these looks into reality.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the creation of this app?
Hands down - the creation of our global team to tackle the massive amount of data that accumulated from our local markets. In 1 year, we brought on nearly 75 of the most talented individuals to establish our presence all around the world. Today, we have established offices in seven different countries and locations, with more than 20 nationalities represented. Despite being scattered across the states, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, our team is interconnected by the goal to curate unique and localized experiences for all our app users.
In the U.K. and U.S., MakeupPlus has partnered with celebrity and fashion makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, NikkieTutorials, and Ariana Grande's makeup artist Daniel Chinchilla to create full makeup looks. In Korea, we have worked with K-Pop star GDragon and K-Pop makeup artist PONY. Alongside that, we have PearyPie in Thailand, world-renowned influener Yuya in Mexico, BocaRosa in Brazil, Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty in India, and the list goes on.
Do you have any recommendations or advice for others wanting to create a mobile app?
The most important strategy, when creating a mobile app, is to always put users first – at the heart of every operation. It is not enough to simply create one app for “everyone", but to create one that can be tailored to its unique audiences. A good app is not merely driven by its efficiency, but by the level of silent conversation and interaction that happens between a user and the app through the UI process. The trick is to begin a conversation by creating a product that interacts with the users, and in return, creating a platform for users to interact with the world around them.
How did you decide which platforms to release your app on and do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms?
Currently, our apps are available both on the App Store and Google Play. We are a global company, and our apps have been installed over 1.5B unique devices. We want to continue this trend moving forward by making our apps available in even more countries and tailoring them to these country-specific audiences.
How is your app different than the rest of the market? Which unique need does it fill?
With over 1.5B unique device installs globally, not only is Meitu one of the world's leading global app developers, but we are also creating the world's largest virtual beauty platform complete with in-app content and community, beginning with MakeupPlus. We attribute our success to three key areas of development:
- 1. Our technology
- 2. Our in-app content
- 3. And our absolute commitment to creating highly localized app experiences
In 2010, Meitu set up an image laboratory, MTLAB, to develop cutting-edge image technologies focusing on computer vision and deep learning. Along our journey, this is what we have found: The definition of Beauty is both ever-changing and largely defined at the local level, by local trends and by deep-rooted cultural norms. A woman in Asia is going to have a very different definition of beauty and be inspired by completely different trends than a woman in the U.S. Centered around that finding is our goal as a company to create an ecosystem around beauty that is defined by highly localized experiences for our users in their respective markets by offering culturally relevant looks, styles and content. In that community, not only will our users discover and experiment different looks on their smartphones from recognizable influencers and celebrities, but also bring these looks into the real world with provided tips and content.
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
Our virtual cosmetics counter tool, called COUNTER, provides shoppers with a unique way to try on makeup products before they buy – through their smartphone camera. Combining Meitu's Artificial Intelligence-based facial recognition with Augmented Reality technology, millions of MakeupPlus users can realistically simulate the beauty counter lip color try-on experience through their smartphone camera, without the mess or trip to the department store.
What surprised you most in your journey to create this app?
It takes a lot of work to ensure that the user experience, in-app content, makeup looks, language and filters in our apps are all tuned to their respective local markets. Our global team is dedicated to the challenge and immense opportunity of bringing our apps to the world, but first, we needed to understand the profound differences in selfie habits across all regions. For example, we find that Brazilians and Indians prefer fun, colorful looks to celebrate their local holidays, while women in the U.S. prefer strong brows, contour, and full, richly pigmented lips. Pink and red monochromatic looks resonate well with our Asian users, and Russians like to experiment with different types of reds for their lips.
These notable preferences among our users are why it is so important for us to ensure that we are creating a highly localized experience by offering culturally relevant looks, styles and content in our apps.
Which other mobile apps or technology have inspired you?
As a company that is building the world's largest virtual beauty platform, we are inspired by apps like Instagram that have created a community for users to not only share content with each other but interact with the community that stretches across time zones and distances.
Of course, Meitu consistently pushes the boundaries of possibilities when applying AR and facial recognition technology to the world of beauty. Makeup looks and effects have been popular in Asia for quite some time, and only have recently caught on everywhere else in the world. Our Asian users tend to brag that they are the true experts when it comes to using apps like Meitu to enhance their images! They are certainly avid users of AR technology and the market is very open to new AR experiences. The rest of world is now quickly following with increased adoption of AR into their everyday lives. We look toward any apps that utilizes AR to help their users interact with the world like never before.
You can view MakeupPlus here
For more information, visit: http://makeup.meitu.com/en/