Chinese Cosmetic Brand BYKL Goes Traditional To Take On European Rivals

BYKL Claims To Be China’s First “Luxury Skincare Brand”

Chinese brand Shanghai VIVE launched in 2010, promoting its Chinese roots

Chinese brand Shanghai VIVE launched in 2010, promoting its Chinese roots

The premium skincare market in China may be dominated by Western brands, but home-grown entrants are joining the market in ever-increasing numbers, using a mix of traditional ingredients and marketing savvy to compete with their much larger rivals. As Hong Huang — publisher of iLook and owner of the domestic fashion designer-stocking store Brand New China — writes this week in her column for WWD, ChinaFile, one such new brand, Ba Yan Ka La (BYKL) recently launched its first boutique in Shanghai, billing itself as the first Chinese “luxury skincare brand.” However, interestingly enough the brand’s owner is anything but Chinese.

From Hong’s column:

[BYKL] uses recipes from traditional Chinese herbal medicine and skin care.

And yet, the founder of BYKL is a Frenchman by the name of Jean Zimmermann, a former retail executive who has lived in China for 17 years.

“The trigger [to create BYKL] was working for a Hong Kong-based company specialized in luxury retail concepts as the head of China operations. I was denied the right to propose and introduce, in China, leading and trendsetting local designers and forced to stick to foreign brands,” Zimmermann says, that didn’t aspire to modern and wealthy Mainland Chinese consumers. Seeing an opportunity, he got together with a Chinese herbalist and created BYKL. The name is Mongolian; it is a mountain range which hosts the source of the Yellow River, known as the “cradle to Chinese civilization.”

Zimmermann politely declines to give any sales figures but says the brand is “growing at a steady pace,” especially in hotel amenities, where he supplies high-end boutique hotels across China.

Though BYKL considers itself a rare home-grown cosmetic brand in China, recent years have seen decades- (and sometimes centuries-) old Chinese brands make a comeback. As Jing Daily has previously noted, brands like the 180-year-old skincare line Xiefuchun and the much newer Shanghai VIVE have made the use of traditional Chinese ingredients their main selling point. Unfortunately, whether that’s enough to reverse 20 years of brand loyalty-building that has benefited Western brands is anyone’s guess at the moment.


Beauty, Market Analysis