Jing Daily’s monthly Chinese Collabs column looks at the China-related collaborations and drops that are transforming the luxury landscape. From local fashion brands to C-beauty, virtual idols to NFTs, and KOLs to lifestyle and games, it offers a curated selection of what’s dropping and the trends behind them.
Chinese New Year’s gifting tradition is a crucial time for beauty players. Now more so than ever: according to data from the e-commerce platform Vipshop, sales of New Year makeup and skincare gift boxes in the past two months have increased by 68 percent year-on-year.
Alongside this growth in demand, competition in the sector has become fierce. Xuan Wang, partner at the Chinese marketing and social commerce agency Tong, points out that the creative work from campaign to campaign tends to look a lot like previous efforts. “Traffic jams are also difficult to overcome, with an increasing number of brands going after the same pool of consumers.”
In light of this, makeup and skincare brands are pulling out all the stops to attract consumer attention during the annual holiday. Here, Jing Daily analyzes three beauty collaborations which played with the unexpected. Did they pull it off?
Leveraging The Personal: Proya’s “Thank you for being with us”
The festive season is a time for locals to reflect on the past and look to the future. This was the sentiment that Proya tapped into, with the twenty-year-old homegrown beauty brand releasing an emotive campaign which thanked customers for sticking with it throughout a challenging year.
“Thank you for being with us,” Proya said, in the title of its campaign running in the company’s home of Hangzhou. For the installation, the brand collected over 2,000 real-life stories from its consumers. Proya’s spokesperson explained to local media outlet CBO focus about the “significant time and effort it took to collect those stories, but we insisted on doing so because we wanted to express our gratitude for the users who have been with us during 2022. We also want to communicate these warm stories to more people.”
Additionally, the label delivered a touching short film documenting the story of one of its users— Liu Jia, a teacher who works in remote areas of Tibet teaching children without access to schools and central infrastructure. “Proya is leading the change in terms of targeting younger generations, provoking discussion around a whole range of societal issues. Its rich storytelling without any real focus on commerciality appears to have struck the right tone,” Wang says.
Loyalty is one of a brand’s most valuable assets. Proya’s initiative should inspire others to rethink the commercial tone of their campaigns. This is a time to give something back — and build long-term emotional connections in doing so.
Podcast Collaboration: Lancôme x Small Cosmo FM (小宇宙播客)
At the end of 2022, Lancôme and Small Cosmo FM (小宇宙播客) invited seven podcasters to share their stories of staying up at night. These anecdotes — the night of the World Cup, the Mid-Autumn Festival reunion, long talks with parents, or late nights watching TV dramas — proved highly relatable to young people’s daily lives.
Lancôme deployed its partner’s authenticity, intimacy, and companionship to reframe its renowned “génifique eye cream.” product. Allie Rooke, founder and brand strategist of Clean Beauty Asia, approves: “by getting KOLs to tell their own real, private stories about late nights — consumers are naturally interested. It evokes memories of their own experiences and triggers them to consider products they need. It is a clever content play, drawing consumers in and building a real and relevant emotional connection.”
Given Gen Z’s love of podcasts — and teenagers’ age-old delight in sleepless nights — the collaboration was spot on. “[The channel] offers an exciting gateway to well-educated, opinion-led, young Chinese consumers. At the same time, the focus on directing the brand towards issues of mental well-being is a good approach for extending brand communications,” concludes Wang.
Cross Collaboration: L’Oréal Paris x CASC
French cosmetic brand L’Oréal Paris partnered with China Aerospace CASC for the launch ceremony of 2023’s first space rocket, Long March 7A. The makeup establishment built an observation tower on Hainan Wechang beach overlooking the launchpad — the first time Beijing has made the aerospace base publicly accessible.
Rooke thinks that where that campaign succeeds is its evocation of national pride. This is characteristic of Chinese New Year celebrations, and so works well for a gifting moment. “But the longer-term benefit to the brand is questionable. The link between space, science, and skincare is a stretch, and it feels like they are trying to play in a space more suited to local brands.”
As shoppers become ever more sophisticated and the market more competitive, brands need to work harder to come up with fresh ideas that hit home. Partnerships can help, but they aren’t enough. The real challenge is getting the moment right — whether that’s a rocket launch or national festival — and then finding something unique and authentic to say about it.
Check out Jing Daily’s weekly Collabs and Drops newsletter — a 360-degree lowdown on the world of collaboration. For more analysis on the latest collaborations, sign up here.
Correction: An earlier version of the article published included details of another campaign by L’Oréal Travel Retail Asia Pacific, which was erroneously included in this story. To clarify, L’Oréal Paris and L’Oréal Travel Retail Asia Pacific operate as two different entities, and only the former has a collaboration with RobbiART.