NARS Announces Expansion Into China Despite Criticism for Testing on Animals

    High-end cosmetics brand NARS, with its parent company Shiseido, announced that it will be entering the China market in September with four physical stores.
    NARS executives at the China launch party. Image: NARS/Weibo
    Ruonan ZhengAuthor
      Published   in Beauty

    NARS will officially enter China market in September. The brand, which made the announcement in Beijing on July 10, with its parent company Shiseido, plans to open four physical stores, one each in Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, and Nanjing. NARS will open a WeChat boutique as its e-commerce channel. This move signals the brand’s ambition to further take advantage of the growing market in China.

    The decision to expand into China speaks to the brand high estimation of this market. But some have criticized the company for turning its back on its earlier vow to consumers to be cruelty free. It announced in late June on Instagram that it would need to do animal-testing in order to begin selling in China, which has strict requirements for animal testing before exporting to China. Almost immediately, fans criticized the ethical implications of doing business in China, some even boycotting the brand.

    The animal testing requirement is another barrier to entering this huge market for some major brands, including the Bodyshop and Lush.

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    Even NARS entered into China late, but the brand is no stranger to Chinese consumers. The brand has built high awareness through quality products and marketing strategies.

    The brand already has more than 20,000 fans on Weibo since it was first established in April this year. One post encourages fans to come up with Chinese names for its classic lipstick Orgasm, which attracted 13,033 replies and 10,026 reposts.

    There are over nine million search results for "NARS” on Baidu, many of which are product reviews of its blushes, eyeshadows and lipsticks as well as prices. NARS's entry into China is good news for Chinese consumers who will no longer have to worry that they're buying counterfeit products, that they're spending too much to buy through overseas Daigou shoppers, or that they need to travel to Japan to buy the products.

    NARS was founded in 1994 by French made up artist Francois Nars, and was acquired by Shiseido in 2000. The company envisions achieving sales over 1 trillion yen (855 million) by 2020. NARS's entry into China could be interpreted as Shiseido’s move to fulfill this goal.

    According to Shiseido’s 2016 annual report, its global sales increased by 5.2 percent year over year, and China leads the increase with double digit growth of 11.4 percent. Furthermore, the brand thinks future growth in China will come from the high-end market. “The gap between high-end and low-end in the China make-up market is becoming more and more obvious,” the brand's China CEO Masahiko Uotani said in an interview with Global Times. “Chinese consumers want to buy quality products.”

    NARS hasn’t disclosed the pricing of its products yet, but it’s likely to remain on the high-end as it is elsewhere. At A blush at Sephora costs 30, which is higher than brands like MAC and Make Up Forever.

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