How did a Chinese beauty brand quadruple L’Oréal’s GMV on Douyin?

    Local beauty brand Kans emerges as a dark horse contender. What is propelling the C-beauty brand’s stellar growth?
    Image: Kans
      Published   in Beauty

    What happened

    Chinese cosmetics brand Kans (韩束), known for its ‘Red BB cream,’ topped Douyin’s beauty brand list for 2023, with sales exceeding the 3 billion RMB ($417 million) mark. The label is continuing to blossom on the short video platform this year, once again topping Douyin’s January beauty list with outstanding results.

    According to data intelligence agency Chanmama, Kans’ total GMV (gross merchandise value) reached $107 million (773 million RMB) last month, quadruple L’Oréal’s Douyin GMV for the same period. The result is not only Kans’ highest single month GMV on Douyin, but also the platform’s highest record for a beauty brand GMV in a single month.

    In January, the brand’s online retail channels performed very well: Kans’ GMV growth on Douyin hit 756 percent YoY, on Tmall it grew 570 percent YoY, on it was up 398 percent, on Vipshop it climbed 135 percent, and on Pinduoduo it rose 218 percent.

    Kans Year of Dragon gift box. Image: Kans
    Kans Year of Dragon gift box. Image: Kans

    The Jing Take

    It’s hard to stand out during the highly competitive Chinese New Year season, when many brands allocate generous marketing budgets and deep-dive into local culture to entice consumers. For instance, domestic rival Winona has launched its “Beautiful Wishes Come True” gift box, which is inspired by Yunnan's Jiama, a woodcut engraving used for blessing. Florasis CNY limited edition gift box honored the nomadic lifestyle of ethnic Mongolian culture.

    A successful campaign must trigger emotional resonance while skillfully conveying the brand’s products and message in China.

    Part of Kans success is down to a clever marketing - their Chinese New Year film short film, titled Love Together, Red Together (爱在一起,红在一起) features New Year customs from three regions – Sichuan, Northeast China, and Chaoshan – spanning the past two decades. The video shows how CNY values — love and companionship — have endured over the years, just like Kans, established 20 years ago. Also used its symbolic red packaging, shrewdly connecting the brand’s image with the New Year’s signature hues.

    Kans' Chinese New Year film short film, titled Love Together, Red Together (爱在一起,红在一起) features New Year customs from three regions. Image: Kans
    Kans' Chinese New Year film short film, titled Love Together, Red Together (爱在一起,红在一起) features New Year customs from three regions. Image: Kans

    According to Chinese media outlet Cosmetic Observer, the video received over 200,000 views in China, and Kans sold 358,000 sets of its limited edition CNY red gift box in the 15 days following its launch.

    To further its reach, online, Kans partnered with top Douyin KOLs (@小辰吾妮, @维多利亚夫妇, @八零徐姥姥) to create amusing Year of the Dragon gifting scenarios, tapping into humor and appealing to the younger generations. It also teamed up with Douyin mini C-drama series makers (@姜十七, @乔七月, and @丁公子) to place Kans’ gift box in various scenes. The company also held a pop-up event at the Kans Brand Experience Center at Shanghai Hongqiao airport.

    From a skincare brand originally targeting China’s Tier 3 and 4 cities through TV home shopping in the early 2000s, to then vanishing from Tmall’s top 10 beauty brands list mid-2010s, to today as Douyin best selling beauty brand, Kans has ridden the troughs, peaks and boom of interest-driven e-commerce.

    On the operational and strategic level, starting from 2020, Kans’ parent company invested in livestreaming channels and adjusted its organizational structure accordingly. The business established the Douyin Livestream Department, the Kuaishou Livestream Department, and other departments to efficiently adapt to fast-evolving cosmetics market demand and sustain rapid growth.

    The success of this brand’s strategy offers lessons for local and international contenders hoping to leverage the short video app to reach China’s digital native consumers. Its rise to the top is a powerful reminder that being agile and responding to fast changing consumer habits is critical in the nation’s competitive landscape.

    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.

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