Frustration with the process of purchasing makeup online, only to be disappointed when products arrived and didn’t meet expectations, prompted Hillary New Sinclair to devise a better option. “Makeup is the third most-returned item, after electronics and apparel,” said Sinclair, who has held marketing roles helping companies such as Avon, Sony and Kraft Foods. “Unlike those categories, you can’t resell it, so billions end up in the trash or rotting in a makeup drawer. It hurts the environment, it hurts wallets and it hurts companies.”
In April, she launched Wheesearch Beauty, a platform to help users identify the best makeup products for specific needs and preferences. By answering questions on product preferences and complexions, consumers establish a Whee4me profile that pinpoints beauty products from both mass and prestige to fit their needs.
Users can search on Wheesearch for a product type — or a particular product — and can refine their search results using a range of beauty-oriented filters including coverage, smoothness, ease of application, smell and shine. Layered in are videos from beauty influencer partners who provide makeup recommendations. A third component is community-rated feedback to further streamline the search process.
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There are already 1,100-plus registrants and 1,000-plus makeup videos tagged in the Wheesearch system. Viewers are spending time on the site, reaching an average of eight minutes, according to Sinclair. “They are watching the videos and learning more about the products,” she said. Sinclair believes she’s built a seamless platform for information rather than reviews or star ratings. “Who has time to read all those reviews?” she said. Wheesearch, she added, is user-friendly with swiping and clicking rather than typing to access information. “It is tailored and personalized.”
Another vexing problem she helps to solve is when shades are discontinued. Sinclair recalled a red lipstick she was obsessed with that was edited from the brand’s assortment. She went searching online for a red lipstick that didn’t smell and was perfect for her complexion to no avail. Her platform helps connect with other beauty fans or makeup videos that present an alternative tailored to you.
The platform includes about 2,000 mass and prestige products from MAC to Maybelline. Currently the buy button takes users to Amazon, but links to Ulta Beauty and Sephora can also be inserted. Wheesearch started with makeup because Sinclair said 89 percent of U.S. women watch makeup tutorials. Hair, skin and fragrances are in the pipeline, along with more items for men.
Rather than revenue coming from sale of products, Sinclair said the goal is to generate income in conjunction with the social media content creators. She noted that creators or influencers face challenges with new social algorithms and she estimated many influencers lost 99 percent of their revenue when that happened. In July, Wheesearch will launch consultations and live-streams so influencers can connect to fans and receive compensation for the interaction. “We want to provide creators with a way to make money.”
Additionally, Wheesearch can be a crowd-sourcing resource for brands looking for feedback on what consumers want in beauty products.