Can C-Beauty’s YUMEE Rock the Global Make-up Industry?

What Happened: Fashion entrepreneur and financier Wendy Yu has announced the launch of her latest venture, YUMEE, a global luxury makeup line. This is the first brand to be conceived and developed in-house at Yu Holdings which see Yu transition from investor to creator. Derived from cruelty-free formulations, YUMEE (pronounced “You and Me”) aims to set a new benchmark for C-Beauty globally. The line will debut on Little Red Book initially and will then be available from WeChat and Tmall; international market rollout with luxury partners is scheduled for later in 2021. The launch capsule includes a range of lipsticks, highlighters, and eyeshadows with prices ranging from $51 to $76.

Yumee’s launch collection includes lipsticks that come in a special faux-leather tassel, retailing for $51, and a highlighter trio for $62. Photo: Courtesy

Jing Take: Female investors such as Yu are transforming China’s fashion landscape. Many are funneling capital into new dynamic companies, from lingerie to beauty, while other businesswomen are being tapped by VC firms (like former editor-in-chief of Vogue China, Angelica Cheung at Sequoia Capital). Since 2017, Yu has made prominent fashion investments both in global names such as Mary Katrantzou through Yu Capital, as well as in homegrown talent through various initiatives like the Yu Prize (launched in 2020). One probable next step for such entrepreneurs in China is the creation of their own brand, and here Yu is firmly ahead of the curve. 

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Moreover, the global beauty industry generates $500 billion in sales a year and has been exceptionally buoyant in China where in-store and omnichannel bounced back quickly.  Yu has seen this market potential. However, YUMEE joins a competitive roster of innovative domestic names winning over savvy local consumers in an aggressive market. Thus, finding the correct online channel for selling cosmetics in China is make or break. Little Red Book (or Xiaohongshu) is a leading channel for beauty and is effective for amplifying content using KOCs and product or sample seeding; YUMEE’s exclusive drop illustrates the importance of the platform. 

For now, YUMEE’s ambassador names are under wraps but the line will partner with iconic designers, artists, and cause-based organizations on special editions, hinting at ample content to drive storytelling. Niche beauty companies are trending among Gen Z demographics too, while cruelty-free credentials are starting to top conscious consumers’ wish lists. Outside of China, YUMEE’s luxurious branding is likely to win admirers. Still, it remains to be seen if it can inch past C-Beauty disruptor Perfect Diary and gain global recognition. If it does, it’s a trend that will rock the beauty industry exponentially. 

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.