Social Media Week HK: New Membership Models Could Crack China Luxury Market

    One of the more interesting events so far this week was a panel discussion about two new startups in Hong Kong that cater towards high-end demographics with tailor-made membership services.
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Beauty

    Cosmetic Membership Concept Glamabox, Culinary Concept Gourmei Finding Fans#

    Jing Daily

    This week, Jing Daily is taking part in several events during the ongoing Social Media Week Hong Kong, which consists of panels, workshops and activities throughout the city. Yesterday, along with an interview of the social media and e-commerce manager at the Mandarin Oriental (forthcoming on Jing Daily), one of the more interesting events was a panel led by Jennifer Cheng of Fireworks Internet, discussing two new startups in Hong Kong that cater towards high-end demographics via tailor-made membership services: Glamabox (cosmetics) and the soon-to-launch Gourmei (fine dining).

    Co-founded by local celebrity Lisa S, Glamabox -- which custom-develops monthly boxes of cosmetic samples for members, shipped directly from brands to end-users -- currently has around 10,000 members in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, and offers users additional services through the member community, including video blogs and celebrity advice. Deep integration with social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Weibo and the Blogger network make all content highly shareable across all platforms, a feature that panel members agreed was key to success. Costing around HK$100 per month, and available on month-to-month, six month, or one year subscription plans, Glamabox skews to a younger demographic, though Cheng noted that middle-aged members are increasing rapidly, and surveys in the cosmetic industry are always to be taken with a grain of salt, because people tend to "lie about their age."

    Launching within the next month, the second company discussed at the panel was Gourmei, a membership community "for restaurants and foodies" in Hong Kong. Gourmei will offer a range of perks for users, including restaurant news and recommendations, last-minute reservations and a mobile app. As with Glamabox, panel members noted that the membership model is important in premium industries, as it helps develop filters to reach the right consumers: demographics (right age groups, user bases), purchasing power (via paid subscriptions) and tailoring (to ensure users don't receive unwanted items). All attendees agreed that customization and strong social media integration are crucial for key demographics, as social media is "effective, fast and instant" and -- for restaurants in particular -- traditional media channels are no longer offering the same return on investment that they once did.

    Though making up only two segments of the luxury industry, the emergence of service-based companies like Glamabox and Gourmei in Hong Kong -- and their popularity in the Greater China region -- indicates we may see the same developing clout in mainland China's luxury industry; Not simply in cosmetics or cuisine, but fashion, wine and jewelry as well. With the country's e-commerce market booming, along with luxury demand among an emerging and tech-savvy second- and third-tier consumer, it's only a matter of time before luxury brands see value in tailor-making packages for membership club members of a certain level of purchasing power in China. For its part, Glamabox plans to enter the mainland China market this month, offering users payment options through Alipay.

    Already, we're seeing this happen with the growing number of wine subscription services popping up in the mainland China market, but other areas are ripe for experimentation.

    Social Media Week Hong Kong runs through February 17. For more information, check out

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