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Carmine Combines Groupon With Amazon Vine, With A Touch Of Subscription

We briefly caught up with Michiel Kotting, founder and CEO of Carmine, a company which specialises in "subscription-based beauty discovery service", and asked him a few questions about the firm itself and how it envisages its short and long term plans.

Can you briefly describe what Carmine is all about?

Carmine is all about helping consumers discover new beauty products and interact online with like-minded users. For beauty brands it provides a new marketing channel to get their message to involved consumers and boost their sales

Where did the inspiration for Carmine come from?

The changes brought to online commerce by social media have been enormous – through expert recommendation, entertaining content, user generated contributions and social sharing mechanisms the dynamics of how users discover products and decide to try them has been turned on its head, making it possible for product categories like fashion and beauty to grow dramatically online. What I have seen in my early experience in comparison shopping (which works surgically and is very suited for utilitarian purchases like digital cameras) is drastically changed by these developments.

How does Carmine differ from the likes of Groupon and other cluster buying websites?

Carmine starts with discovering new products selected by insiders, trying them out, and then engaging around them with the brands, experts and other users. It allows you to learn more about yourself through our quiz, and share that knowledge with others. As we learn more about you, the experience (both in the box and online) will be targeted to you individually.

Why is Carmine limiting itself to women beauty products though, and not other things like books.

We believe that there is a very strong passion (as demonstrated by the big readership of online beauty blogs for example) about beauty products, and that brands have much more to share with consumers if they only knew how to do so effectively. We are dedicated to deepening that experience through additional tools rather than carry a wide range of product categories. Having said that, expansion to related areas like lifestyle products something we may look at in the future.

Are you planning to offer the service as an addon for existing websites (e.g. Reevoo)

Carmine is very much about the overall experience – so we’re not looking for a wide distribution through existing channels. However, special selective partnerships in the future that enhance that experience are definitely on the development horizon.

Could Carmine become an external testing service (e.g. Amazon Vine)?

Absolutely – brands get aggregated feedback about our users’ experience, and we actively invite people to give their opinion. We hope that in the future brands will use Carmine as a recruiting tool to reach early adopters and get their input in the development and launch process. (ed : it is also slightly similar to the DeAgostini subscription scheme).