Since its 2018 launch, Chemberry has now become one of the largest personal care ingredient search platforms
Q&A with Chemberry, the innovative personal care chemical search platform
You launched at in-cosmetic Asia last year in 2018. Can you remind us of why you created Chemberry again and what’s unique about it?
Chemberry was created after identifying challenges faced by chemical buyers and suppliers in the ingredient sourcing and marketing process — particularly in the fragmented personal care industry where new ingredients are being launched regularly and new beauty products are being formulated all the time. Having conducted over 50 stakeholder interviews we were able to identify several pain points and unmet needs in this aspect, particularly the lack of online tools that could help make this process more efficient.
One of the main issues identified was that chemical buyers, such as formulators and R&D teams working for beauty brands, spend up to five hours per week searching for new chemical ingredients for their formulations, with over 80% claiming they started their search with Google which would not always yield ingredient specific results.
Suppliers, on the other hand, are overwhelmed by the increasing number of marketplaces available and are unsure of how to best market their products and gain visibility across the growing number of online and offline channels.
Based on these insights and with the aim to tackle these gaps, Chemberry was launched in the fall of 2018 and has since become one of the most comprehensive personal care platforms with almost 30,000 ingredients.
“One of the largest personal care ingredient platforms” is a big milestone. Can you explain what that means and why you think it’s important?
Chemberry currently indexes almost 30,000 personal care ingredients, making us one of the largest personal care platforms out there. We have achieved this vast number by crawling as many companies as possible through their publicly available information (official supplier websites). This not only allows us to have a much larger number of chemical suppliers indexed without much effort from their side, but also allows smaller suppliers, who may not have the resources to be listed otherwise, to be on our platform. For buyers of care ingredients this means that they have virtually all ingredients at their fingertips, allowing them to source ingredients they may not have known about otherwise. Ultimately this is the best of both worlds for our suppliers and our buyers, allowing them to make connections and sales that may not have been possible before.
What has been the reception or feedback of the platform thus far?
The feedback we have received so far from our customers has been largely positive. We have seen our user numbers growing as well as a rise in returning visitors. This shows us that people are coming back and using our tool over and over again, making Chemberry a working tool and a go-to when it comes to searching for chemical ingredients. Further, we are in direct contact with our users to help them with any queries as well as to get feedback on what we need to improve or what features are the most pressing to work on next. As we have built this platform specifically for our users, they are at the core of how we work and what we do. Of course, we also receive constructive criticism but we embrace this as we know that there is a lot of work still to be done and because we aim to continuously grow and develop.
What have been some of your biggest challenges and learnings?
One challenge is maintaining close customer contact. As mentioned above, we try to have as much direct contact with our users as possible, however, as we are growing rapidly, it is becoming more difficult to keep in contact with all of our customers personally. To overcome this we try to engage with our users online as well as offline, such as at tradeshows or via personal calls and demos.
Another big learning for us was the importance of the platform’s user experience (UX) in terms of simplicity and ease of use. This is sometimes not seen as adding real business value, however, based on customer feedback and our steadily increasing returning visitors, UX has proven to make a big difference in enabling people to do their work more efficiently. UX is something we are constantly trying to improve by looking at platforms we or our customers use in our daily (private) lives and seeing what we can learn from these successful examples.
The third challenge that we face is something we see as an opportunity: digital marketing is still in its infancy within the chemical industry. Although it made it difficult for us to promote ourselves to the right target audience, we are also using the chance to build up digital marketing stories, experiment with different online channels and utilize creative approaches that speak to our audience.
Through exploring new ways to explore Chemberry, we also hope to help and inspire chemical ingredient suppliers to market their own products in new ways that are not as conventional in the chemical industry.
These activities are also helping us learn what our users are interested in and what will help us build a loyal customer base in the future on both the buyer and supplier side. For example, our blog series #AskTheExpert is one that has shown to be very popular, gets a lot of engagement and has been very useful in reaching new customers.
What are some new features that have been launched over the past year?
Over the past year we have released several features that we are very excited about and proud of. First of all, we now have a sustainability filter, which allows users to filter for “COSMOS”, “Nature” and “RSPO” certification. This is important as there is a clear paradigm change when it comes to how our users search for ingredients: the sustainability aspect is becoming increasingly important — not just to end consumers but also to beauty brands. As a core part of Chemberry’s culture and values, we’re always looking to support more sustainability initiatives in the chemical industry.
Further, we have recently launched our “Product Editor”, which allows our chemical suppliers to edit and update their product information we’ve crawled from their website directly online. This does not only improve the richness of data available for buyers, but also allows suppliers to take control of how they market their products on the Chemberry platform.
Lastly, we have launched our weekly blog which covers an array of different personal care topics from trending ingredients such as Bakuchiol, market trends such as regional beauty trends, and our #AskTheExpert series, with previous guests including Formula Botanica and Sam Farmer.
Where does Chemberry want to be in a year or two? What is its vision?
Chemberry’s vision is to become a central node in the FMCG industry when it comes to material identification and sourcing. This means we are working hard to become the most comprehensive platform and we are also exploring expanding to other relevant segments. This is why we launched the segment “Home Care” in October 2019.
Furthermore we want to strengthen our position in Asia since this is a very important market for us. We’ll be at in-cos Asia in Bangkok so look out for us (we’ll be in our “Chemfluencer” shirts :)) or drop us a note on email@example.com so we can set up a meeting.