Daily Insights

How Do Brands Leverage LIPs in Japan’s Beauty Market?

By: Sarah Xu | Jul 09, 2019

Any makeup user in Japan would know the name @cosme–the go-to source for reviews and recommendations, but it’s not the only one as app LIPS becomes an increasingly popular beauty destination.

Launched in 2017, the app LIPS already has more than three million downloads. Like @cosme, it works as a word-of-mouth service for women to read reviews before purchasing from its selection of more than 5,000 brands. While @cosme emphasizes products, LIPS emphasizes users. It creates a community for makeup lovers to follow their favorite reviewers with similar preferences and receive more personalized recommendations. The app also uses AI technology to customize every users’ feed based on data such as their favorite accounts and brands, age, and skin type. The strategy is paying off as LIPS grows rapidly in both downloads and site visits, easily outpacing @cosme’s growth in the past two years.

LIPS doesn’t benefit just the users, but also brands. Brands can open official accounts, post products for users to review, publish blog articles, and schedule new releases in the calendar feature. Highly ranked and popular products are showcased on the home page for easy recommendations and high visibility. Of the top brands, KATE currently leads in the share of reviews that its products have garnered with Dior coming in second. KATE Tokyo is a Japanese brand known for its unique products and is featured on the list of the ten most popular brands on the LIPS home page. 

While LIPS does not have DTC features like @cosme does, it does offer brands the option to include links on product pages. AppBrew, the startup that created LIPS, cited that 93% of users have reportedly bought make-up after reading the reviews on the app. Including links on existing product pages is a valuable and low-cost opportunity. So far, 91% of indexed brands have included links for at least one of their top reviewed products, leading users to either Amazon or the brand site directly. However, not all brands are consistent as many of the top reviewed products do not include any links to commerce.

LIPS has become popular not only for its makeup rankings, but for its quality reviews. The most popular users easily have more than 100,000 followers and some have more than half a million. AppBrew recently launched its LIPS partner program, which pays users for popular, high quality posts to incentivize users to spend more time on their reviews. LIPS has a set of criteria to determine eligible posts and strictly cleans the app of any false claims, both helping to maintain credibility. Brands should consider partnering with, or at least sending products to, popular reviewers who regularly recommend branded products to their hundreds of thousands of followers.

Although not a household name like @cosme is, LIPS has potential as it is ever-expanding with new features and incentives. Unlike @cosme, which attracts women of all ages due to its widespread popularity, LIPS attracts teens and women in their early 20s. This platform is an easy way for well-established brands to gain exposure to Gen Z audiences, who make up approximately one-third of the world’s population. Brands across the world are shifting product development and marketing techniques to cater to this younger generation. If LIPS can maintain its growth, it soon won’t be just another platform for brands – it will become a necessity.