Picky is a beauty application that enables consumers to discover the most suitable beauty brands and products for them through user reviews, educational content and expert contributions.
The US-incorporated company launched the app in April 2020, and it is currently pushing 45,000 users globally.
Picky was developed to empower consumers to make informed decisions in the saturated beauty market.
“There are so many products on there on the market. In Korea especially you see new brands and products on the market constantly. That’s why there are similar solutions like websites and communities that help people decide what to buy. We saw the same need for global consumers,” said founder and CEO Jihong Lee.
Lee told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that Picky was initially conceived as a personalised product recommended application based on skin analysis.
However, the start-up quickly realised that beauty lovers enjoyed the product discovery journey maybe even more than finding the right product.
“There are a lot of companies, even the big brands giving you product recommendations from facial scans… But our conclusion was that if you have an AI that helps you figure out what’s best for you send sent it to your doorstep, it takes away the joy of trying new products and making new discoveries,” said Lee.
He elaborated: “With skin care and make-up, it's about enjoying the process – that’s the fundamental thing about beauty. We decided to focus on the best way for consumers to make the best decisions. Our app does help them find and understand their skin type and we filter out products based on it, but ultimately, we believe consumers want to read the reviews and make their own decisions.”
Lee believes Picky has arrived at a time where there is a lot of confusion on the market generated by a huge volume of product and information on the market, as well as an increasing scepticism towards marketing practices.
“There was a phase in the past few years when we saw a boom of direct-to-consumer brands. On the marketing side, that led to an acceleration of social media marketing, and brands start to sponsor influencers. Today, consumers are confused because if an influencer says all 10 brands are good, how do they choose the right one?”
As such, Lee believes consumers are now more receptive to consumer reviews.
“The keyword is authenticity. Consumers are looking for real reviews from ordinary people like themselves. They also want to communicate with brand owners directly and receive genuine content from them.”
Focus for 2021
The start-up announced the completion of a $1.3m pre-seed funding round led by NLVC, a China- and Asia-focused venture capital partnership.
Other investors include K-beauty firm Wishcompany, as well as angel investors spanning the e-commerce, beauty, and online gaming sectors.
The firm intends to use this funding to build a strong team that will help to enhance the whole experience on the app.
“We want to provide the best experience for our users, that means we need a very strong engineering team. So, we are hiring top engineers from some prominent tech companies. We want to have high-quality content as well. That means making sure the content is legitimate and free of spam. We want to build a team that can monitor and maintain that content,” said Lee.
It is free to list a brand on Picky and the firm also lists brands on recommendations from users.
However, the start-up also works to brands on a commercial level by providing a platform for them to send new launches to Picky users for review, giving them direct insight into their consumers.
It has already worked with 30 brands such as COSRX, Wishtrend and Purito.
“We believe this is a universal need for both new brands and established brands as there are constantly new releases in the beauty space,” said Lee.
Another initiative the firm has started is pushing Super Picky Squad, a special subgroup in the community that have been handpicked to gain special access to products and events.
These users are active on Picky and have been producing quality content for the app to help it grow.
Lee said: “Growing our core group of users will be a top priority for us this year. They are our most active users; therefore very valuable for the community, so we want to make sure we take good care of them.”
Picky is initially focusing on the skin care category as it is the fastest-growing beauty segment globally. Moving forward, Lee said it intends to expand into other categories as well.