Launched initially in 2008, Meitu has been seeing booming popularity in China, hand-in-hand with the rise of image-conscious middle-class consumers and social media in the country, and now reportedly boasts 270 million monthly active users.
Meitu’s app offering allows users to adjust their image - both in terms of their shape (including face thinning and leg lengthening) and through the virtual application of makeup.
The company’s rapid rise confirms the huge potential held in the beauty app arena, which cosmetics and personal care brands have been traditionally slow to tap into.
Meitu’s funding round comes hot on the heels of the expansion of various other beauty-related apps, including that of Vaniday, a platform that links consumers with local beauticians and has just announced its expansion into Asia, and SoYoung Techonology, which provides a similar service for plastic surgery.
But with third party app developers maximising the potential of mixing beauty with digital, where does that leave cosmetics and personal care players?
As Cosmetics Design recently reported, research from market research firm Kline has indicated that the beauty brands need to keep up with the rapidly developing app market if they want to remain relevant to the rising millennial consumer group.
“As consumers continue to prefer experience over possessions, it will be pertinent for beauty companies to respond appropriately,” the report highlights.
“Beauty apps will remain an important tool when it comes to generating interest in a brand and creating loyalty for a brand, company or retailer.”
Brands in on the act
Some key brands are making inroads onto the app scene, however, confirming that the industry can get it right: Kline’s report singled out L’Oreal’s Makeup Genius, Mary Kay Virtual Makeover, Nyx Cosmetics Mobile and OPI as some market-leading examples.
With selfies now very much established as a popular global phenomenon, it seems beauty brands would do well to tap further into selfie-editing software.
“Meitu's valuation may also inspire other photo editing application developers, driving competition and advancing the technology used in mobile devices,” predict analysts at Research and Markets.