Retailers, let's face the challenges
of innovation together


Céline Delacharlerie
3 minutes

A new social network is all the rage in China. Recently launched in the Korean and North American markets, the Soul app, supported by the Chinese giant Tencent, facilitates “authentic” virtual meetings by making Internet users interact around their common points.

Soul is a Chinese startup founded in 2016 in Shanghai that has raised $60 million in investments since its inception. The social network, which relies on a strong use of artificial intelligence and algorithms, already has more than 30 million active monthly users. The company, two-thirds of whose users were born after 1990, had plans to go public in 2021, before announcing last June the interruption of the IPO “due to alternative financing options made available to Soul”.

Despite the sudden halt to the IPO process, the Chinese company remains one of the most fascinating social networks to emerge in recent years. Soul, whose main shareholder is the Chinese tech giant Tencent, defines itself as the “Social metaverse for the young generations”. Although the app can’t really be considered a metaverse yet, it does have some of the features: including customization of the avatar as well as the ability to purchase virtual items.

The vision of Soul is to provide a safe and open environment where users can express their thoughts and feelings and to create a space for users to to establish deeper connections. In order to provide the best possible experience, new users who install the application must create a virtual identity through an avatar. They then become “Soulers”. They will then have to pass a personality test inspired by Myers-Briggs. Soul’s algorithm uses their responses to connect them to like-minded people. Users interact with other people on “planets,” each built around ‘a common interest.

Furthermore, just like other more traditional social networks, Soul has designed a variety of fun and creative tools to allow users to create content, share their daily life and express themselves in multimedia formats rich, ranging from personalized emojis to audio and video “stories”.

Why use it?

1. Create your personalized avatar

When you download the app, it offers you a choice of some already customized avatars. You must select one to access the app’s main menu. Once your account is set up, you have the possibility to customize your avatar by changing its eyebrows, hair color, eye size and even the clothes worn! You also have the option to buy clothes with in-game money to further customize your avatar.

3. Create, post and discover content

Like a traditional social network, you can post photos, videos and stories like Instagram, Twitter and Tiktok. Soul even has a built-in tool that lets you create videos using filters or edit them using the options provided.  

2. Join interest-based communities

Once you have arrived on the app, you must answer a quiz of 7 questions about your personality so that the artificial intelligence places you on the right “planet”. Once on the right “planet”, you can meet other users by clicking on their username that appears in the galaxy. You can then message them and sympathize with eux, which is the primary purpose of the app.

4. Enjoy an ad-free experience

Once your account is set up, you can browse all the services without being disturbed by advertising. Soul makes its revenue through value-added services/products. This means that the income of the app comes from purchases made by users: gifts and accessories for avatars.

Céline Delacharlerie
Celine is the correspondent of the Echangeur in China. On the lookout for retail innovations, she identifies and analyzes the latest retail and consumer trends in Asia.
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