There are a few major review portals in Japan that are loved by women — Cookpad (food recipes), Ozmall (beauty salons), and Tabelog (restaurants) come to mind. But when it comes to cosmetics and beauty products, @Cosme is the place to go. The review site opened way back in December of 1999 and since then it has accumulated over 10 million reviews . According to Toyokeizai, the site is used by one in three women in their 20s and 30s, and over two million members write 10 million reviews monthly.
Many Japanese women have an endless appetite for greater beauty, and to satisfy such women, many cosmetic brands launch new products more often than one would expect. Industry journal Syogyo announced that in the first half of year 2012, the number of newly released cosmetic products went up 3.3% compared to the same time previous year, with the number of items reaching 1849. The average price of new products was 4132 yen (or about $42).
Product reviews at @Cosme are essential for these women to find best the suited products considering the number of products that are available. Users can check product reviews and rankings, ask questions about skincare and makeup, and even find out where products are available offline. The site is free to browse, but by registering as a user, you can clip or bookmark your favorite brands, reviews, or reviewers, and also send messages to other @Cosme users about products. The site’s premium users pay a monthly membership fee of 294 yen (or about $3) which entitles them to receive special coupons and or points to win promotional products.
iStyle, the company behind @Cosme, went public on the Mothers market in March of last year. The site was initially founded to accumulate purchasing data across all cosmetics makers, but the company’s co-founder explained in a Toyokeizai interview that there is a limit to CRM as it only allows brands to collect information about existing purchasers. What brands really want is data about those who did not buy their products, which is essentially unreachable since that information belongs to competitors. @Cosme have successfully built a solution for this problem.
The core business of @Cosme is advertising, which accounts for roughly 25% of its profit, with ecommerce and retail stores just behind. @Cosme have opened six retail stores in popular locations such as Shinjuku and Ikebukuro to further engage consumers offline and online purchasing behaviors. Women can see the latest popular products on @Cosme, and visit the retails store to try them out and hopefully purchase them. @Cosme is very powerful in influencing purchasing decisions of beauty conscious consumers — so much so, in fact, that it is not uncommon to find products with things like “Chosen No.1 at @Cosme” on its package.
I myself do check out reviews on @Cosme when I’m deciding to try a new product. But I might not have anything in common with the reviewer in regard to skin type or preferred products. The site would be more fun and convincing if they tagged with products like Beautecam, allowing users to get connected with people having similar skin and beauty concerns.