Jing Daily’s latest insight report “How Niche Fragrances Are Winning Over Young Chinese Consumers” is available for purchase on our Reports page. This 25-page primer highlights China’s emerging niche fragrance market, one of the fastest-growing premium categories with plenty of untapped potential. Get your copy of the report here.
During the most recent 618 online shopping festival in June 2021, niche fragrance sales on Tmall platforms surged by roughly 200 percent year-on-year, according to Alibaba. In its 618 debut, the Puig-owned L’Artisan Parfumeur sold more than RMB 3 million ($462,200) worth of its popular scent Passage d’Enfer and became the top-selling niche perfume brand on Tmall Global.
Judging from social media posts and daigou listings, the brand had developed a small but dedicated following even before it joined Tmall Global in August 2020. Given that Chinese consumers are still restricted from traveling internationally, they have continued to seek out imported products from verified sellers, and a brand’s appearance on Tmall Global can offer greater assurance of timely delivery of authentic goods than independent vendors.
Around the time of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s launch on Tmall Global, a creator under the name Sandy-Z posted a video featuring Passage d’Enfer that went viral on the youth-oriented platform Bilibili. Sandy-Z specializes in producing content that shows her using paint to customize perfume bottles, and the Passage d’Enfer piece has been her most-watched with more than 306,000 views at the time of this writing. Sandy-Z’s work also highlights another route to building brand awareness by appealing to overlapping niche interests such as art and design that are popular among Chinese youth.
The Qixi Festival is one of several romantic holidays observed in China. In addition to the Western Valentine’s Day and the relatively new “520” on May 20 (which sounds like “I love you” in Mandarin), Qixi, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar, is the most traditional, based on a legend of two lovers who could only meet on that one day of the year.
Holidays such as Qixi offer compelling opportunities for overseas fragrance brands to create special offerings for Chinese consumers. After launching on Tmall Global in April 2021, Maison Margiela’s Replica brand (which is considered niche despite being licensed by L’Oreal) launched an affordable RMB 299 ($46) gift set of ten sample-size fragrances for Qixi that became one of its best sellers during the holiday.
“Replica is an interesting fragrance to have done so well, but it works,” said Allie Rooke of Clean Beauty Asia. “Again, consumers are looking for gender-neutral products that don’t have such a feminine style. They are choosing fragrances that are not very strong and not sweet… Ones with more personality.”
Creating associations of products with the romantic overtones of the Qixi Festival in creative ways can also be used to draw attention. In 2019, Japanese condom brand Okamoto released 1,000 gift sets8 that paired condoms and fragrances based on three hero products: 001, 002, and 003, which attracted a lot of attention from both the media and consumers.
Penhaligon’s, another fragrance brand under Puig, entered China via Tmall Global in October 2019, and by August 2020 it had topped Tmall Global’s list of imported niche perfumes favored by young shoppers during the Qixi Festival. Based on that initial success, Penhaligon’s expanded its marketing investment to secure a spot on top beauty livestreamer Li Jiaqi’s broadcasts in April 2021.
Buy your copy of “How Niche Fragrances Are Winning Over Young Chinese Consumers” on our Reports page.