What Happened: In April, the total gross merchandise value (GMV) of local online makeup and skin care totaled $2.6 billion, and for the first time Chinese cosmetic brands surpassed international competitors in online GMV. Estée Lauder’s April sales reached $24.5 million, ranking it first among global names, but third overall. Topping the list was domestic beauty brand Florasis with $33.5 million GMV followed in second place by Perfect Diary with $28.2 million GMV. Moreover, the trend continued in May; however, international companies rebounded in June during the lucrative 618 Shopping Festival.
The Jing Take: This short, but nonetheless, impressive victory for local brands suggests that these labels are now a significant threat to global names. Domestic consumers are paying less importance to a brands history and the origins of their products. However, the fact that international names reaffirmed their supremacy implies there is still a long way to go for domestic companies to take over China’s vast beauty market.
But the difference between the two is in marketing: international brands lean heavily on celebrity influence to help achieve significant exposure and traffic, while homegrown brands instead rely on quickly adapting to the dynamic local market, enlisting innovative marketing strategies, and responding much quicker to trends and ever-changing consumer demands.
To date, celebrity influence still seems to be the most effective tool, and, at the end of the day, beauty is an accessible and easy way for followers to support their idols. However, few can argue with the ingenuity of local brands — and now we have proof. Florasis and Perfect Diary are by far the most well-known C-beauty brands, but there are a host of local names like HFP, Proya, and Winona waiting in the wings. Even if this is a one off, the success of C-beauty brands will surely have rattled some global luxury companies. To keep the heat on, perhaps the likes of Florasis and Perfect Diary could also collaborate with local superstars (if financially possible) to add another layer to their innovative marketing initiatives, and in the process, start to dominate China’s C-beauty market for good.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.