In Brands, Finance, Tech

Customization has been a conundrum of color cosmetics since the shuttering of Prescriptives by Estée Lauder. There has never been a question about the desire for customization on the consumer’s part, but the financial feasibility of doing it at scale has been the struggle. Shiseido Americas Corporation has acquired US beauty startup MATCHCo, a privately held company that has developed revolutionary technology and digital tools to provide consumers with the ability to customize foundation at scale.

WHO:
MATCHCo was launched in January 2013 by founders Andy Howell and Dave Gross, who share a background in launching customization programs for companies like Nike, Reebok, and Zazzle. MATCHCo is an app that turns the iPhone video camera into a colorimeter to determine a customer’s skin tone. The technology blends the perfect color within minutes from its Santa Monica fulfillment center and a bottle of foundation arrives in the mail within 24 to 48 hours. The app is free and a 1-oz. bottle of foundation is $49. Gross told FastCo “We’ve essentially built a search engine for makeup with a self-improving algorithm. We have now collected what we think is the largest database of skin colors. The company relies on high-tech innovation, but at its core the philosophy of the company is that of bespoke luxury goods, created one consumer at a time to their unique specifications.”

Shiseido was founded in 1872 as the first Western-style pharmacy in Japan. The business gradually evolved into a cosmetics company, offering people the most advanced technology and the finest aesthetics available in the East or the West. Now known globally as the premier cosmetics company with roots in Japan, the name Shiseido has come to represent the world’s highest standards of quality. Fiercely contemporary and innovative after over 140 years in business, Shiseido group brands are now sold in over 120 countries and regions.

WHY:
The synergy of MATCHCo’s innovative digital tools and Shiseido Group’s R&D capabilities will help to enhance a business model that captures a major consumer trend: cosmetics customization. Combined efforts of MATCHCo and Shiseido Group will result in a rollout and enhancement of a business model that quickly responds to changes in consumer needs and the rapidly growing market. Shiseido intends to “leverage” the MATCHCo technology across Shiseido’s other brands, which could give them a competitive edge at customization and personalization.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS:

“We are thrilled to welcome MATCHCo, a company possessing innovative digital technologies, into our Group. Creating innovations is an area of special strategic focus for Shiseido Group, and we look forward to offering more unique value to consumers around the world. This will now be made possible through accelerated innovation in rapidly evolving digital tools and customized products.”

DETAILS:

  • The sales volume of MATCHCo and purchase price we not released; however, according to WWD, a number of industry sources estimate the annual volume is less that $5 million.
  • MATCHCo will remain based in California, with its engineering team in Palo Alto and its marketing and operations hub in Santa Monica, and will become part of Shiseido’s Global Makeup Center of Excellence, led by Jill Scalamandre and based in New York.
  • MATCHCo investors  reflect the intersection of tech and beauty, including former Kiehl’s president Jami Morse Heidegger, Clarisonic president Jack Gallagher, and Silicon Valley investor George “Skip” Battle of Netflix and LinkedIn.

Read the full press release on Business Newswire.

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