This is the Clean Beauty Asia video series – short videos with tips and tricks to launching your Clean beauty business in Asia. We cover all sorts of topics and very happy to cover other topics – so drop us a message in the comments below if you have any burning questions!
VIDEO 26: Partner structures for China entry with Charlotte Mantoux from LEAF law firm
Want to know what to watch out for when negotiating with a distribution partner in China?
In this interview I talk to Charlotte Mantoux a partner from LEAF law firm. LEAF specialise in Mergers and Acquisitions supporting clients with their China market entry.
Charlotte has a lot of experience helping brands navigate the legal side of partner agreements.
Her first piece of advice BEFORE you do anything – Protect your IP.
We look at 3 types of structures to enter the China market:
- Trade partners
TRADITIONAL DISTRIBUTOR – What to watch out for:
- Protect your IP 😊
- Adapt internal decision making to China speed by giving distributor clear guidelines so they can act fast and stay on brand
- Wechat account registration – If you are Cross Border you need to get the distributor to do this for you but have a clause in the contract to make it easier to transfer ownership if you change partners.
INCUBATOR – distributors or trade partners want to take a stake in brands
📌 They want a distribution lock in so you won’t be able to change distributors in the future
📌 OR They want a strategic investment that will be lucrative in the event of future sale 💰💰💰💰💰
The distributor builds the brand in China but ultimately doesn’t benefit from the upside if the brand is sold so they want to fix this!
Charlotte shares lots of watchouts if you are considering this approach as well as 3 structures:
1️⃣ Invest directly in the holding company for equity
2️⃣ JV dedicated for China market
3️⃣ Non-Equity mechanism
Being careful about what information each structure will give the distributor access to is important – formulations and pricing for example.
Listen to the video for all her tips and if you want to get in touch she is reachable on Linkedin at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-mantoux-1b88b054/ or through LEAF’s website https://www.leaf-legal.com/
VIDEO 25: Animal testing changes discussion
Mark Schaub and I discuss the details of the updated regulations for cosmetics in China & some key areas of concern:
1. A local responsible agent. A lot more responsibility is being placed on this party and with the unknowns of how this will play out means that brands may find it harder to find an independent responsible agent willing to take on this risk.
2. New Ingredients – the level of information that will need to be supplied and the IP issues associated
3. The QMS (equivalent of a GMP) from your manufacturer certified by your government authority and approved by the NMPA in China.
👉This is being looked at on a country by country basis so if you manufacture in a country where Beauty is not a top industry you may be waiting longer
But what with China there is always a long game and that may well be getting more brands to manufacture domestically. In 2014 Beauty products manufactured in China no longer required animal testing.
So despite seemingly making it easier for Cruelty-free brands to enter the market, it may be a clever way of getting more beauty brands to produce locally in China. Have a listen to our discussion and tell me what you think 👇
VIDEO 24: Indie brands and the Chinese market
Want to launch your beauty brand in China but keep visibility and control?
In this interview I talk to Rob Robertson. He runs Star Brands Asia, they are a total brand partner for China.
They focus on 4D brand creation:
All channels – offline as well as offline,
Functional – legal, back office, sales force management, online TP services etc
Consumer Journey – moving consumers from awareness to loyalty
Changes – partner brands on the journey. Not just Tmall but look holistically at the long term strategy.
Here are some of the fascinating topics we talk about:
1. Why do some brands struggle in China – have a plan & do your research & FOCUS:
– What do you want to achieve in China?
– Chinese perception of my brand today?
– What are people saying about you?
– Choose your key messages that will resonate with your target in China
– What are your star products?
2. Picking your brand partner in China
– Distributors wanting to invest in foreign brands
– Discuss goals – how quickly do they plan to sell out
– Distributor 5x net sales value but ownership in a brand can get them sale price of 20x net sales!
– Example of a success: Profex in working with Kores
3. Animal testing changes
– Cross border as a stepping stone to general trade
– Retail environment is changing to adapt to more brands selling domestically
– Your partner needs to have offline expertise to be ready for this change
– Travel retail booming
– Productivity per door is extremely high
– Star Brands Asia have established an office there with investor Bluebell
– Douyin & Kuaishou Cross Border shops now open – enabling much better ROI
– C-Beauty how can we learn from them. Not spending 300% of sales in marketing 😂
VIDEO 23: CHIna beauty trends
Here I talk to Holly Kim, from Measure China – Measure China helps brands make Data based decisions to accelerate their growth in China.
We talk about a wide variety of topics from C-Beauty, to emerge trends that international brands can capitalise on.
1️⃣Premium Skincare continues to grow exponentially +40% yoy in China and international brands dominate here
2️⃣ Clean Beauty is growing but still remains niche. Consumers are looking for products that don’t contain certain ingredients like Fragrance and alcohol. Cleansing, masks and acne products are the most popular for Clean Beauty.
3️⃣ C-Beauty popular rise is mainly focused on colour cosmetics. The way they spend is different from International brands. Generally very little on R&D as they white label many products and focus on marketing and tech investment
4️⃣ Scalp care
There is a Chinese saying “Your scalp and your hair is one skin” – if your scalp gets saggy then the skin on your face will also sag 😱 It is becoming an important step in your anti aging routine
5️⃣ Hair care market in general is growing rapidly as consumers increase their level of sophistication and start multi step routines.
If you want to hear more about measure China please contact Holly Kim on Linkedin
VIDEO 22: Why brands struggle in China?
Do you want to avoid making mistakes you haven’t made yet?
I am sure you do.
Josh Gardner has been operating International brands in China for many years and he is king of an example!
In this episode of my interview series we cover A LOT of ground but two highlights:
1️⃣ 3 tips for working with distributors
⏩ TRADEMARK: Your English and Chinese brand name ➕ any nicknames that the Chinese have given you!
⏩ EXCLUSIVITY: Very sticky relationship, hard to get out of. Take time to make the decision ! Demand transparency
⏩ REFERENCES: Do not skip this step. Talk to distributors current clients to find out their POV.
2️⃣ Success factors and example success stories
⏩ Full control, high investment model – Supergoop!
⏩ Distributor wholesale model using Daigou, 3rd tier cities and Social selling in wechat groups
⏩ Elements of success – brand recognition, consumers talking about you, being sold through resellers on Taobao as well as ample investment.
We talk about so many other topics too – it is packed full of great information. Don’t miss this one!
VIDEO 21: Maximise your investment on Social
Here I talk to Olivia Plotnick, founder of social media agency – Wai Social about how to manage this complexity for smaller brands entering China.
She gives lots of great tips. Here are a few highlights:
1️⃣ Who is your target. This is crucial to narrow down to the most impactful channels for your brand
2️⃣ Some channels are non-negotiable like We Chat as consumers will always cross reference and need reassurance
3️⃣ Xiaohongshu 小红书 (little red book) is a good place to work with KOLs and to amplify your content through KOCs using product seeding.
4️⃣ KOCs want to be the first to introduce brands and discover them so if you pitch it in the right way you can get good coverage
5️⃣ Don’t overlook Taobao and Tmall – engage with customers there, look at it like a social platform
6️⃣ Instagram and YouTube are blocked but many young Chinese have studied abroad and still get on these channels through VPN. Use Chinese influencers on these channels!
7️⃣ Content strategy and management is extremely important to keep costs down and ensure you can use it across platforms as formats are very different.
8️⃣ We chat private groups are a great way to build a super engaged core community by offering them real value through tips, pre-launches and getting their feedback
Olivia is working with lots of smaller brands helping to build their social tribe in China, optimizing and maximizing their content and budgets.
VIDEO 20: maximise investment and impact for smaller brands
The focus of the interview is IMS’ new health and wellness platform Orghive.
It gives international brands in Beauty, health food and wellness quick access to targeted Chinese consumers.
What is Orghive?
Orghive is a Social & Content platform. It’s advantages:
✅ Strong purpose to help the Chinese make better, healthier, more informed lifestyle choices
✅Curated content and brand selection
✅Gathering consumers who are specifically looking for the best natural and organic options
✅Their scanning app on wechat allows consumers to verify the origin and authenticity of products which in turn gives them access to highly interested user base
Orghive is not a sales platform it is a way to get your brand to stand out and your Natural/Organic messaging to be given social proof without paying 1000s to KOLs.
Who are Orghive’s users?
Sophisticated Chinese consumers who are looking for a point of view they can trust specifically when it comes to natural and organic products for them and their families.
Most of their users come to them through their scanning app that uses blockchain technology to allow people to authenticate their products.
When in the brand’s China Journey should you contact Orghive?
There is no wrong time but if you are starting from scratch you want to build awareness in Chinese market at least 3-6 months ahead of your Tmall launch. Orghive is a good place to position your brand’s credibility in this niche.
Finally We talked about how long and how much investment it takes to be successful in China:
🥇 Do you have your China trademark? If not, this will definitely slow you down!
🥈 What budget are you able to commit to China in the next 2 years?
🥉 How dedicated are you to making this work – your time and flexibility?
Orghive is highly curated, targeting consumers who are searching specifically for the best natural and organic products.
Whilst choosing a highly targeted platform may not be the fastest route, it will allow you to balance investment and return.
You can burn cash in China to gain quick results (sometimes;) using high profile livestreamers and KOLs but if you don’t have a loyal fan base in the background the success will be short lived 🙀
So find a way to activate sales whilst you use your budget to build a loyal fan base then you will have a real chance of sustained success.
VIDEO 19: Making China e-commerce more accessible for Beauty SMEs
Here I am talking to Jack Porteous from Samarkand Global. Jack is Samarkand’s Client service director. He previously worked at the Department of International Trade for the UK government and for the China British Business council. So has a wealth of experience.
Samarkand have offices in the UK & China and their mission is “To make Chinese eCommerce as easy as selling on your own .com”
We covered a range of topics starting from:
What are the 3 biggest hurdles for foreign Beauty brands entering China:
- Animal testing
Firstly, partners – it can be very difficult to find the right fit:
- Transfer of information is rarely smooth
- Culturally it is less transparent so difficult to understand what is needed or what is being done
- Distributors – you have less brand control but they may be willing to invest on their own to build you up.
- Trade Partners – it is common for them to wow you with big sales forecasts but the reality can be very different
Competition is fierce in China
- It is an expensive market to operate in. Even for Cross border e-commerce there are many areas that eat up your margins from fixed fees and commission for partners, to shipping and tax as well as platform fees and marketing.
- Do not see China as merely a big sales opportunity. It is a big market but very complex and needs to be entered only when you are ready to invest your time and money.
Animal testing – Jack outlines the very latest info in regards to CSAR and how this will change animal testing.
- The new regulations going into effect on 1st Jan will not immediately change anything
- In order to file your products you need to have a GMP signed off by a government body but in UK and Europe no government body does that sort of thing so the UK government are still working with the Chinese authorities on how to manage this.
- New Ingredients is also an issue. There has only been 30 new ingredients in 12 years. Lots of common ingredients today like Hyaluronic acid is not approved for use in China.
- These new regulations will not apply to special use cosmetics (SPF, Hair colour, growth etc)
Samarkand Global are an e-commerce solutions provider for brands. They offer 3 main types of services:
- Distribution – Beauty and Health products. They have a network of shops they distirbute to from KOLs, Taobao stores, wechat stores etc.
- Trade Partner – Setting up and running market places and other online shops for your brand in China
- Nomad Checkout – a simple solution to allow your own global website to be accessed in China, with checkout in Chinese and using Chinese payment methods. They also take care of the shipping & customs. Ensuring a good experience for your customers.
VIDEO 18: China Beauty: Trademarks and Animal Testing
This interview is with Mark Schaub from the law firm King & Wood Mallesons. We discuss Trademarking your brand in China, animal testing regulations and trends in the Chinese beauty market.
Mark has extensive experience with the China market and has worked with numerous Beauty brands on their market entry.
The first area we discuss is trademarking for China and why it is important:
🎯 China is a first to file system vs. most western markets where it is a first to use
🎯 Relatively inexpensive to file around 700 USD per category/class
🎯It takes around 12 months to get the trademark – do it early
🎯China is the No1 Trademark country in the world – so there is a lot of competition
No1 Action – check if your trademark is available & file even if you are not ready to enter the market.
Trademarking your Chinese name is also important but that can be done down the track but BEFORE you start to market your brand to the Chinese inside or outside China.
For brands who run into problems where someone has filed their brand trademark already Mark’s advice is it is often quicker and cheaper to buy it back rather than litigate!
For English name trademark you can go through the Madrid treaty route but for Chinese names you will need an agent in China. It is safer to go through an agent for both to make sure there are no issues with classification.
Mark & his team very kindly put together a short presentation on trademarks so message me if you would like a copy of that. I will be happy to share.
VIDEO 17: Opportunity in Ingestible Beauty & Male skincare in China’s Beauty market
I am talking to Michael Norris from AgencyChina. Michael is a research and strategy manager, he and his team spend a lot of their time conducting fieldwork across China observing first-hand consumer behaviour and preferences.
This gives him a rare and highly valuable insight into the way many consumer sub-sets think and act. His insights are always interesting and I believe can give brands a real edge in their category.
Today we focus on two key trends that he is looking into in more detail – Ingestible beauty and Male skincare.
A few insights that we covered:
💡The extending of the beauty category – beauty from inside out, wellness, gadgets to keep your products at the perfect temperatures
💡Mask factor – Needs to help resolve/avoid maskne (mask + acne) – daily care and emergency response to solve breakouts
💡Ingestible Beauty – long standing tradition in China to use food to strengthen beauty health – skin, hair, nails
💡Smaller brands – can standout using a hero SKU approach to focus efforts and avoid confusion
💡Formats for ingestible beauty market have moved away from basic collagen powders and has rapidly expanded including gummies, fortified foods, hydration – infused waters.
💡Male Beauty market growing faster than female
💡Products – some consumer groups starting to move from pure cleansing and hydration to more sophisticated products
💡Assortment – bundles is the dominant way consumers like to purchase. But what to put in those bundles requires more research.
💡Packaging – Larger formats, reduce repeat purchase rates.
💡Ease – how to make it easier for consumers to repeat purchase could be a very important innovation
Michael is doing a joint research project in the new year on Male beauty in the China market. This is an innovative way of more brands being able to get access to the research without compromising confidentiality all whilst keeping costs low.
If you are a male skincare brand and are either entering China or already here and want to get an edge vs. competition have a talk to Michael about this research.
VIDEO 16: Target Chinese at home first
This interview is with Byron Constable of Avenue 51. Avenue51 is an online retail solution for selling in China used by more than 100 British brands including Waitrose, Aspinal of London and the beauty brand ThisWorks.
Byron is working on a new project to make entry to China more accessible for smaller beauty brands called 10.10.
The 10.10 project is aimed at brands who want to either test Chinese consumers’ receptiveness to their products or who want to start building buzz as part of their market entry to China.
Avenue51 has a database of 40,000 Chinese consumers who have used their shipping services – mostly based in the UK. These people provide a fantastic way for brands to get their products out to local Chinese consumers who will then advocate for them with friends and family back home (as long as they like the product;).
The idea behind 10.10 is it is an accessible and affordable way to get Chinese people to try your products and if they like them, they post about them on social media so therefore starting to create reference points and conversations for other consumers who may want to buy your products.
In this interview we cover several interesting topics:
1. Why using 10.10 community will give you an authentic start to your China journey
2. How it works – signing up and costs
3. Angel & Devil KOCs – Key opinion consumers & how they can be the make or break of your China journey
4. The importance of visibility and staying top of mind
VIDEO 15: how to maximise your marketing
This interview is with Elisa Harca of Red Ant digital agency. We talk about lots of different topics from which social channel should beauty brands focus on to a key trend they see brands being able to leverage locally which is the “Tribalisation” of Beauty.
In just under 30 mins we packed a lot in! 10 different sections with lots of fabulous tips and tricks that brands in China should look at implementing.
1. SOCIAL NETWORK FOR BEAUTY – LITTLE RED BOOK
2. THREE TIPS FOR LOCALISATION
3. ORGANIC REACH
4. SEEDING APPROACH
5. DAIGOU – PRE MARKET ENTRY
6. IMPORTANCE OF HOME MARKET SUCESSS
7. C BEAUTY
8. LEVERAGING LOCAL TRIBES
9. FINDING YOUR NICHE FOR CHINA
10. TEST & LEARN & TRY – FAST
VIDEO 14: why choose tmall Global
Here I talk to Ker Zheng from Azoya about the different marketplace options that are available for Beauty brands doing Cross Border e-commerce in China. We take a deep dive into the biggest and best known platform Tmall Global.
In this video we talk about Tmall as well as the other key marketplace platforms to help you make a decision on what fits your brand best.
A few points going for Tmall that Ker points out are:
📌 It’s the largest cross border dedicated platform
📌 It has the broadest appeal in terms of consumer profile
📌 It comes up in Taobao search results – because Taobao is where everyone actually goes to search for products or brands
More details on what we covered:
1) WHY CHOOSE TMALL?
2) DIFFERENT STORE OPTIONS ON TMALL
3) OTHER OPTIONS FOR SMALL BRANDS
4) LIVE STREAMING
5) OTHER PLATFORMS TO LEVERAGE FOR BRAND AWARENESS
6) TREND TO WATCH – LOCAL BRANDS, SPEED OF INNOVATION
VIDEO 13: how to tap into Chinese in your market
This interview is with Jennifer Spark of Spark communication. An agency based in Australia dedicated to help brands tap into the local Chinese in Australia to help launch brand awareness before moving to mainland China market.
In this video we cover a series of topics – all extremely useful for brands in China or considering entering the China market.
1) WHO ARE THE CHINESE LIVING IN AUSTRALIA
2) MIGRATION AND THE CONNECTION TO THE MAINLAND
3) HOW TO REACH THE CHINESE IN AUSTRALIA – MEDIA WECHAT
4) LITTLE RED BOOK, BILLIBILLI & MICRO INFLUENCERS. DON’T OVERLOOK INSTA
5) TRENDS: GROWTH OF CHINESE BRANDS
6) WORD OF MOUTH
VIDEO 12: Indie Beauty Brands Entering China Trade Partners
Here I talk to Michael Simonet from Qingdao Alea about being a trade partner, finding the right one for your brand, and what it takes to succeed.
Michael outlines his process for deciding to work🤝 with new brands including market research, forecasting, and launch strategy✍️.
We cover a series of topics:
1) WHAT IS A TP?
2) FINDING THE RIGHT TP – HONESTY, REALISTIC FORECASTS
3) CBEC STEP 1 & DISTRIBUTOR OR WOFE
4) INVEST MONEY DIRECTLY INTO THE MARKET
5) SPEED OF MARKET
6) HOW TO STRUCTURE WITH HQ – NEED TO SUPPORT CHINA PARTNER
7) INTERESTING TRENDS FOR BEAUTY BRANDS
VIDEO 11: Top Tips for Beauty brands entering into the China
Lucy comes with a strong background understanding both the brand and the retailer sides of the business.
The Key Topics that we cover are:
1) HAVING THE RIGHT TEAM SUPPORT AT HEAD OFFICE
2) WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN FINDING PARTNERS – CULTURAL DIFFERENCES AND PACE OF WORK
3) WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF -TIME & MONEY
4) IS THERE SUCH A THING AS A QUICK WIN?
5) A KEY CONSIDERATION IS THE SOPHISTICATION OF THE CONSUMER
6) SOME CONCRETE TIPS & TOUCH POINTS
Video 10: KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR BRANDS OPERATING IN CHINA IN 2020
A New year, a fresh start? There are key trends we saw starting to emerge in 2019 that we should look to capitalise on in 2020.
My top 3 that everyone should consider this year:
Live streaming – how to leverage it and is it right for your brand?
Private traffic – how to maximise this and get the best possible ROI?
Ingredients geeks – who are they and how can they help your beauty brand?
Video 9: CHINA ANIMAL TESTING UPDATE JAN 2020
As Chinese New Year ? approaches many people are wondering what the year of the Rat ? may bring. If you are a cosmetics brand you may be hoping it will see significant changes to animal testing regulations in China? In this article I outline the latest status and updates to animal testing policy and ways to avoid it for cosmetics brands entering into China. Let me know your thoughts – do you think this year will see significant policy changes? Fingers crossed for the year of the Rat ?!
Video 8: Hong Kong Clean Beauty Market
Hong Kong is a dynamic cosmopolitan city. But is it the right place for your Clean beauty brand to launch in Asia? Before making this decision you need to understand the retail landscape here. This video gives you a window into your options as a Clean beauty brand in Hong Kong.
VIDEO 7: Chinese New Year – What you really should know!
Chinese New year, also called Lunar new year or Spring festival is the most important holiday for most markets in Asia. This is an opportunity for brands already in the region and also those not yet here to target the enormous potential of the Asian market.
VIDEO 6: 2019 Predictions for Natural Beauty in Asia
Looking at the key global and regional beauty trends, which are the most crucial for Clean beauty brands wanting to expand in Asia in 2019? I have outlined my top 3 in this video and there is more in-depth analysis on the blog.
VIDEO 5: What does the new E-commerce law in China mean for international brands?
There has been a lot of speculation and confusion around the new e-commerce law in China that comes into force on 1st Jan. This is a brief overview of the key aspects that involve international stakeholders:
- Government regulating the flow of goods and cracking down on unofficial channels by placing responsibility on platforms
- Daigou (shopping agents who buy products overseas on behalf of people in China) are the focus of this crackdown as they generally operate outside of the taxation system.
- Daigous will find ways to continue to profit from the desire of Chinese consumers for overseas goods – one way is for them to become influencers for official players
VIDEO 4: Considerations for brands wanting to do Cross Border E-commerce in China
Are you thinking about entering into China through Cross border e-commerce? Watch the video below, key things to consider are:
- Which platforms best suits your product category, price positioning and target audience
- How are you going to distribute your products
- DDU, DDP or bonded warehouse?
- Consider restrictions – tax, package value etc
- Traffic – how are you going build your local tribe?
VIDEO 3: Different routes to market in Asia
This is a brief overview of different ways brands can enter Asia. Looking at service agents, distributors, retailers and e-commerce. I share my perspectives on the pros and cons of the different business models and what to negotiate for.
The key routes I explore – looking at pros and cons in this video are:
- Service agent
- Exclusive retailers
- Direct to consumer
VIDEO 2: Why Animal testing is not the only option in China
The aim of this video is to talk about why Animal testing isn’t the only route in China.
There are routes into the China market that do not involve animal testing:
- Manufacture your products in China
- Cross border e-commerce through official dedicated platforms
- Daigou – these are shopping agents, it literally means buying on behalf of someone else. Traditionally these were overseas Chinese who had a large network of friends and family back in China who wanted to get products that were not available locally but it has turned into a multi billion dollar business globally with many companies dedicated to this – mainly selling on Taobao and sending straight to the consumer.
More info in this blog post too.
VIDEO 1: Introduction to Allie, founder of Clean Beauty Asia
Get the low down on my background, passions and expertise!
If you have a burning questions send me a note so I can cover it here.
This is an interesting short video on Influencer marketing for Skincare in China done by a well respected Influencer marketing agency – Parklu.