Shortly after Hermès launched its widely anticipated line of lipsticks, called Rouge Hermès, with 24 shades in either matte or satin finishes, China’s top beauty influencer, Li Jiaqi (also known as Austin Li), gave the French luxury brand’s first dip into the lucrative beauty market a scathing review. His Taobao livestream, which attracted over 12 million views, brutally criticized the various shades as “cheap looking,” “unsuitable for Asians,” and “as unflattering as an old mother’s shades.” He snarkily added that Hermès five-year preparation for the line “only served to provide outdated colors used five-years ago.” The clip went viral on Chinese social media, as a host of netizens raved over Li’s honest reviews and firm stance with consumers, leading to the hashtag — TheLookOnLijiaqi’sFace (#李佳琦的表情) — trending on Weibo.
To have its Rouge Hermès line roasted on social media even before it was officially launched in China was certainly a blow for the brand. And compared to the much better received Armani and YSL lipstick collections, both of which come from businesses that moved into the cosmetic industry, Hermès is up against serious competition. As Jing Daily previously reported, China’s influencer industry holds unimaginable power over public opinion, which might explain why netizen’s comments, such as “If Li Jiaqi can’t rock Hermès colors, neither can we” and “Jiaqi is the savior of our wallets” hold real sway. However, other online observers wrote that Li is attacking the new line as a way to build up his personal brand as “trustworthy” and to get more money from the many consumers that follow him. Either way, Chinese consumers are no longer willing to burn roughly two thousand dollars on a “thinly layered Hermès lipstick case.” But will they spend $67 dollars for a lipstick? If so, then Hermès will weather this influencer storm.
The Jing Take reports on a leading piece of news while presenting our editorial team’s analysis of its key implications for the luxury industry. In this recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debates that sprout up on Chinese social media.