It’s been almost a year since Hue Beauty, the technology company that blends AI technology and an online community by pairing users with similar skin tones and skin types, was awarded the Project Connect grant for its innovative approach to bridging the gap between technology and human touch. .
The purpose-driven company addresses the lack of representation in beauty and works to bring inclusivity to the marketplace through the community of “Hue Twins,” who are real people who share the same skin tone, skin type, purchase history, or beauty preferences as the beauty merchants they connect with. Hue Beauty is the first company to use a predictive algorithm to match a beauty merchant with real people like them through the Hue Twins concept. Consumers are matched with Hue Twins by taking an online, in-depth questionnaire that covers a wide range of beauty-relevant characteristics, including makeup and skincare preferences, hair color, eye color and specific skin characteristics.
“For one shade, there can be Hue twins of different ethnicities and genders—for example, a Latina woman and an Asian man—driving a powerful narrative around skin tone and inclusivity,” said Nicole Clay, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Hue Beauty. “We believe that inclusivity in beauty means more than 50 foundations – it’s important to see people of different ethnicities, genders and ages, to see people with acne or rosacea.”
Currently, the Hue Twins community includes over 1,300 micro-influencers across all ages, skin tones, skin types, gender identities and more. According to the company, the community continues to grow rapidly, sometimes doubling month over month. Leveraging millions of beauty micro-influencers, Hue Beauty cites data that micro-influencers are able to generate 22x higher conversion rates than other types of influencers, given that consumers trust “real people unless the audience the creator engages with more “authentic.”
It’s kind of the “Netflix of beauty,” said the three founders of Hue Beauty, referring to the way users receive recommendations through a percentage match based on “people like you.” For example, a user might see that “86 percent of Hue Twins recommend this product.”
“Hue’s mission is to empower every beauty shopper to find the perfect products for their unique skin tone, skin characteristics and preferences. Since winning the Project Connect grant, the company’s vision has expanded beyond makeup,” said Janvi Shah, co-founder and CEO of Hue Beauty and former product manager at Google Photos. “We see a huge opportunity to bring the concept of shopping with real people like you across all categories like skin care, hair care and more. Using our predictive matching algorithm and Hue Twins, Hue brings the best of technology and social shopping to beauty brands and retailers.”
Sylvan Guo, co-founder and chief operations officer of Hue and former performance marketing team leader at Tubi, told WWD that she would break down the benefits of Hue Twins content in three ways. First, providing education and reviews for the consumer on the brand’s website as a conversion driver. Second, UGC content as a top-of-funnel awareness driver. And third, UGC content for performance marketing as a sales driver.
“From my performance marketing days, we used to say that content is king, and getting authentic and well-performing content is very difficult for brands,” Guo.
This month, Hue Beauty launched its empowering solution with Credo Beauty and Lawless beauty.
With both Credo Beauty and Lawless beauty, Nicole Clay, Hue co-founder and chief marketing officer, told WWD it was a wonderful partnership because of a shared commitment to inclusion and willingness to innovate. In consumer feedback, drawn from hundreds of customer tests, over 90 percent of customers said they feel more confident they’ve found the right shade by using Hue.
“Skin is deeply personal, and Lawless is proud to partner with Hue,” said Michael McNeil, chief marketing officer of Lawless Beauty. “The team shares an unwavering commitment to excellence, diversity and inclusion, while delivering a consumer experience that is second to none. I look forward to continuing our partnership and am proud to be a part of their beta launch. [Hue’s founders] are visionaries and I can’t wait to see how they continue to impact the industry.”
“Working with like-minded entrepreneurs has been one of the most rewarding parts of building Credo,” said Annie Jackson, Co-Founder and CEO of Credo Beauty. “In this case, we’re partnering with a woman-founded company that brings to life both skin color inclusion and real, authentic engagement in the beauty community, which is right in line with who Credo is. The technology Hue has created is fun and relatable, and we’re incredibly excited to reveal this partnership to the Credo consumer.”
“Before Hue, we were looking for new ways to help consumers make the seemingly impossible color match online,” McNeil said. “In a sea of skin tone quizzes, AR makeup filters and shadow charts, Hue has been nothing short of a breath of fresh air.”
And for Lawless Beauty, McNeil said, the magic behind Hue Beauty is multifaceted.
“Hue has finally generated a way to easily determine if a skin color product is right for you based on multiple real users who share your skin tone and skin type,” McNeil said. “[And] Hue is the only shade matching solution I’ve seen where consumers of multiple ethnicities and skin types are represented within the same shade. It is the only truly diverse and inclusive color matching solution on the market.”
According to Guo, the partnerships are already seeing strong engagement across both e-commerce sites.
“The Hue app is one of the most clicked sections of the product page, and we’re seeing a significant increase in sales, driven by increased conversions from customers finding their Hue Twin match,” said Guo. “Most compellingly, Hue Twin assets on social media outperform other pieces of content on social channels, and we’ve had overwhelming emotional responses from the beauty community because the content is seen as so authentic.”
Sheena McIntyre, director of private label at Credo Beauty and brand director at Exa Beauty, applauded Hue Beauty’s unique approach to shade matching. “The idea of a Hue twin is smart because when customers can see what a real person like them looks like in the product they’re shopping for, it gives them the confidence to check out online. With 43 shades of Foundation at Exa, we knew that we needed to offer a customer a more representative tool to find their shade match. We know Hue will help drive conversion, increase customer loyalty, and most importantly, innovate the beauty space.”
From the launch with the new partners, Clay said it has become clear that “the biggest secret in the beauty industry is that no one has solved color matching – every brand has this problem. Conversion rates in skin color are low, less than 1-2 percent on average, while return rates often exceeds 15 percent, with the majority of returns due to poor color matches. There is a huge opportunity to get it right for both customers and brands.”
Bringing the partnership between Credo Beauty and Hue straight to the consumer, the companies will soon hold in-person events in six cities (Dallas, Chicago, Boston, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles), inviting shoppers and influencers to try Hue the shade matching experience. These participants will be invited to join the Hue Twin community.
Looking ahead, Guo, Shah and Clay said they are excited to partner with more color makeup and skin care brands.
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