Product reviews can be a minefield, a big rabbit hole you can resurface from knowing little else than that people like to write online reviews.
Sisters Wendy Slattery and Tracy Leavy are co-founders of the Beauty Buddy app which brings consumers and cosmetics companies together with the common goal of finding the right products for the right users.
Created from an issue the pair were having when they went shopping for beauty products – too much choice and not enough genuine information. They needed to find a better solution to standing in a shop and Googling a product's reviews in order to see if it would be suitable for them.
"It was just triggered from a moment of 'this is really annoying and how do we fix this for ourselves?’," says Slattery. "We realised loads of people don't know what they're buying makeup wise and skincare wise."
"In fairness the industry is a multibillion-dollar industry," she explains, "and even after Covid only 18% of it will be bought online. Women still want to buy beauty, skincare and makeup in store which is very different to buying online."
They decided they’d develop an app where you can scan the barcode of the product while you are in store and it will give you honest reviews of that product, and suggestions of which skin or hair profile it will suit.
"We ended up going on the New Frontiers program with Enterprise Ireland, to kind of try and validate that we had a business idea," says Slattery, "that it was actually something that people were interested in."
"While we were on that we had meetings with Estee Lauder in New York and L’Oréal in London," she continues. "We asked them how could we help them connect with users and make sure that the right user buys the right product."
Many of the issues around the online reviews are where there is no profile of the skin or hair types. A user could buy a product that is wrong for their skin type and leave a negative review which is not accurate if it’s read by someone who has the skin type the product was intended for - Beauty Buddy wanted to solve this issue.
"We were trying to figure out how that works," she says. "That turns us into a data analytics company, basically, because we are helping the brands understand people buying the wrong products for the wrong skin types and negative reviews."
"It's just been a whirlwind of a fantastic journey," says Slattery. "We raised €575,000 from Enterprise Ireland and angel investors to help us build out the app."
On the app you can create a profile, follow friends, and see what people have in their virtual make-up bags. As well as product reviews there are some discount codes for products. They are also building a community of samplers - this came as a result of the impact of Covid on the in store shopping experience.
"You can’t sample products now in stores, because of Covid," explains Slattery. "So what we've done now is we're an in between for that now. The brands send us the samples, and we send out the samples to our users based on their profiles in the app. They get a free product, use it and then they leave a review and say what they think of the product."
"That has been huge for us," she continues, "next year we have so many brands on board to do that in Ireland, the UK and in New York, specifically."
Users have to leave over ten reviews and fill out their profile to be eligible to become a sampler on Beauty Buddy.
"We send out 250 samples and then we have a Zoom call where samplers get to meet the brands and ask questions," says Slattery, "so the brand actually gets to connect with their users, which wouldn't have happened months ago, because nobody would have done a Zoom call with 250 people, whereas now what's normal."
"That has been a really big turning point for us because of the amount of different reviews people are leaving now. It's creating great data for the brands and for the users." she adds.