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On Beaute Founder Chanella Buck on Crafting a Democratic Product Review Platform

August 14, 2022
August 14, 2022
On Beaute

They say you are only as good as your last review, and beauty is certainly a testament to that. 93% of consumers say that reviews inform their purchasing decisions, and while in its initial states the internet was a democratic utopia where any voice was valid and genuine, undisclosed sponsorships and hidden advertisements have certainly muddied the waters to an extent.

On Beaute aims to be a trustworthy, truly transparent, and unbiased platform for beauty product reviews. Its ratings are aggregated through product reviews from industry professionals in the realms of beauty journalism, buying, makeup artistry, dermatology, and aesthetics—chosen upon fulfillment of certain eligibility criteria. Certified score badges are created using a combination of AI-fueled analysis and hundreds of qualitatively focused reviews. Scores above 60% receive an On Beaute Certified Badge, while those below receive a Denied Badge. In order to remain truly independent, the company supports itself by charging retailers to syndicate their expert scores on their sites, as well as affiliate revenue, 1% of which is pledged to environmental causes to offset the beauty carbon footprint of consumers.

The woman behind the enterprise is Chanella Buck, whose impressive digital marketing and e-commerce experience spans the likes of La Prairie, Tom Ford Beauty, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Guerlain. Buck has firsthand experience of what it takes to make the online consumer tick, and with the first round of fundraising for On Beaute currently underway, BeautyMatter spoke to the founder about her company mission, the importance of targeting misinformation online, and the challenges of launching an independent platform in the beauty industry.

What challenges are there to truly democratic and neutral beauty coverage?

Today’s beauty consumer is inundated with elaborate email campaigns, paid ads, sponsored partnerships, and social media, only a few of the 24 online and offline touchpoints that frame a typical consumer’s path to purchase.

In the age of “fake” news, it is no surprise to learn that recent data shows 20% of Amazon reviews are “click farm” generated and circa 18% of Sephora’s reviews are written by brand employees. Just a few examples of how the internet proliferates the mass spread of disinformation, creating distrust between the consumer and the retailer. What is a beauty consumer to buy and why? Against the backdrop of rising inflation and critical climate change threats, these questions have never been more relevant or difficult to answer.

What inspired the launch of this platform?

I have over 11 years experience in the beauty industry, specializing in the field of digital marketing and e-commerce. However, it was my experiences as a consumer that shaped the idea for On Beaute.

I recall one particular visit to Space NK on King’s Road where I found myself on my phone trawling for unbiased reviews in order to validate an expensive moisturizer purchase. At the time, I remember thinking, how could there not be an easily accessible and trustworthy platform for consumers to assess their options and make quick, informed decisions?  This fueled my desire to create the first, neutral platform, entirely independent from brands, that objectively aggregates industry reviews—a “Rotten Tomatoes” for the beauty industry.

"Our sole purpose is to help the consumer. Uniquely, we have no affiliates or partners and can therefore maintain our independence and neutrality."
By Chanella Buck, Founder, On Beaute

How do you curate the content on the platform?

On Beaute’s key unique selling point is that our content is completely independent. We have no brand sponsors and can therefore, unashamedly stick to the facts—something rare and unique in our industry.  Our “5 Minutes With” editorial articles are all unpaid, candid interviews with experienced members of the industry open to honestly share what products they use. The reader never has to question the integrity of the answers.

What is the selection process behind the On Beaute Approved / Denied Badge?

We have a small team of curators whose task is to read and select reviews written by the industry. The reviews themselves are given a representative pull quote determined by an internal criteria. Our next phase of development will be adding machine learning into the scoring process, widely known as AI sentiment analysis. On Beaute-approved industry members are also welcome to directly contribute and self-submit their reviews.

Aside from charging for affiliate links, ads, and badges, are there any other revenue models for business? How do you plan to scale growth?

Although on the surface we are a luxury publisher, in order to remain independent, we double up as a SaaS [Software as a Service] provider. Our main revenue will come from the mass syndication of our On Beaute Approved / Denied Badges—which will be fed through to retailer and D2C platforms via live API feeds.

It is known that one consumer review increases conversion uplift by +10% on a PDP [product detail page]; estimates are that at least one expert review will be worth double, if not triple, that. Our next phase of development will be adding AI sentiment analysis into our tech stack to expedite growth.

How does On Beaute differentiate itself from other review platforms?

Our sole purpose is to help the consumer. Uniquely, we have no affiliates or partners and can therefore maintain our independence and neutrality. By objectively aggregating and presenting product reviews from experienced journalists, makeup artists, and dermatologists, we expedite the product research process and will be THE port of call for beauty consumers.

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