From popular new apps to the latest smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets, Chinese consumers’ rapid adoption of new technology has given a major boost to the global tech industry. Now, one French beauty brand is hoping to reap the benefits of China’s love for the latest innovations by bringing a high-tech mentality to another booming market in the country: skincare.
In early September, cosmetics company Talika held a Shanghai event to celebrate the launch of its new Light Duo + skincare device, which uses LED lights to treat signs of aging. Available exclusively at LVMH-owned Sephora for its sales in China, the brand’s strategy to stand out in a market saturated by skin creams is to promote an image of high-tech innovation.
“The skincare market until recently has been purely a cream and serums market,” said Talika Asia Pacific President François Laurent. “We are at the forefront of that new development, and the consumers are extremely interested in it.”
Skincare is by far the most popular category of China’s cosmetics market. According to Euromonitor, skincare product sales reached RMB131.4 billion in 2013, compared to RMB18.8 billion for makeup in the same year. It’s also the fastest-growing category in China’s cosmetics market, with 9.1 percent growth in 2013.
While skincare devices now make up Talika’s highest sales in China by total value, according to Sina Deubner, the company’s regional export director, the market is still young. As a result, the brand is currently focusing on educating consumers. Laurent states, “The aim of our investment in China is to break that barrier to entry by opening the door to their curiosity and to explain to them this new technology.”
In order to reach beauty consumers while conveying a high-tech brand image, Talika has naturally taken to marketing through Chinese social media. It started its WeChat account a year ago, and invited a host of key opinion leaders (KOLs) popular on Weibo to its recent product launch event (Weibo handles of KOL attendees included 坏坏的瓶子宝宝, 妙琳Yukiki, Cherryaloe818, lilith991桑桑, and 候聪Kevin).
WeChat has been particularly useful for the brand in reaching a high-quality fan base and delivering impactful messages. “It’s very exclusive,” says Deubner. According to Laurent, “The community is really your own community. You can talk to them in a very useful way.” He stresses that the company’s WeChat strategy is about the quality of messages over quantity, stating that too many WeChat messages could make people feel spammed.
The company has also gained an advantage from the growth of China’s beauty e-commerce market. According to Laurent, online shoppers are much more likely to buy skincare devices than skin cream, since they still want to test out the latter in-store. Once they learn about a device, “consumers have no hesitation to buy directly without even touching it,” he says.
For now, the brand’s most popular item in China in terms of raw number of units sold is its globally famous eyelash growth gel, according to Deubner. The company also isn’t avoiding the skin cream market, with a range of products including some intended to enhance the effects of its devices.
The brand sees big potential for its high-tech devices, which are more readily embraced by Asian consumers than they are in more conservative markets such as Europe. “Asia is leading the development of the company in terms of brand perception and technology,” says Laurent.