It was my first trip to Shanghai and my first visit to China Beauty Expo. The trade fair was immense, chaotic and exhausting (as trade shows tend to be!) but also very interesting; mostly because I don’t know many Chinese brands so there was plenty to discover – after all, China Beauty Expo is one of the biggest C&T trade shows in mainland China. Click on the link below for a detailed show review with over 100 high-res pics!
China Beauty Expo was divided into three sections: Cosmetics (finished cosmetics, retail beauty and e-commerce), Cosmetech (packaging, OEM/ODM, raw materials, equipment) and Professional Beauty (medical beauty, anti-ageing beauty, brands and salon equipment).
The expo took place at Shanghai New International Expo Center out in Pudong. Pudong is a fairly new part of Shanghai; development in this area of the city began in the early 1990s. SNIEC was opened in 2001 and at the moment it is the third-biggest trade show centre in the entire country. There are 17 halls with total floor space of 200,000 sq m plus an additional 100,000 sq m of outdoor space. German trade show group Deutsche Messe is co-owner of SNIEC, by the way, it’s a Chinese-German joint venture.
I really liked the layout of the exhibition centre, by the way. As you can see in the picture above it’s triangular, with three entrances: North, South and East; the halls are numbered E1 2, 3, N1, 2, 3 etc. The North and South entrances connect directly to the Shanghai public subway system.
My tip: don’t take Line 2 to Longyang Station, it’s a very long trek from the metro station to the fair ground. There were shuttle buses apparently but no signposting (at least none in English), so on the first day I walked what felt like kilometres next to an eight-lane highway. It was humid and rainy; not the best weather to trek along a busy highway (then up a lot of stairs to an overpass and down again on the other side…).
By the end of the day, however, I had discovered that the North Entrance connects to Line 7 via the Kerry Hotel’s underground shopping centre Kerry Parkside. The entrance of Kerry Parkside is located less than 100m opposite the fair entrance. Also Kerry Parkside has many good and inexpensive restaurants, plenty of shops, clean toilets and air-conditioning!
The halls are clearly numbered on the outside and it is easy to cut across the triangle if you need to hurry from, say, hall W3 to hall E4 – the halls are directly opposite. Also, the centre of the triangle is grassy land, basically, so there is plenty of space for really huge exhibition tents – and believe me, some of the Asian brands and retailers like Hänhoo, Hanamino, 3 Concept Eyes, Memebox, JD.com and Nox Bellcow really went all out in terms of exhibition stands! We’re talking lavishly decorated tents, light and music installations, dozens of uniformed attendants handing out leaflets and gifts, seating areas inside; some of the tent exhibitors had even hired musicians and MCs to attract the visitors. There was music blasting everywhere, it was very much a party atmosphere.
This seems to fit the character of the trade show, by the way; tickets are free and anyone can attend (there were many families with children, baby buggies and so on). The trade show centre has a bunch of really cheap restaurants as well as several McDonald outlets, Family Mart convenience stores and Kerry Parkside with its range of restaurants; there is almost unlimited seating outside (if necessary, you can picknick on the grass); most of the exhibitors sold their cosmetics at trade show prices – I think the Expo is considered a fun day out for all of the family.
However, this also meant that the trade show was absolutely packed; masses of visitors in the entrance halls, no real queues, no press counter; when I arrived on the first day I saw the Visitors Registration on the opposite side of the hall but couldn’t fight my way through. The entrance areas were so crowded that the security guards had to let people into the trade show halls in small batches!
There were no real ticket controls either; I was pretty much swept up with the other visitors and we poured into the halls – I spent the entire first day walking around without a badge. In the late afternoon, after things had quieted down I went back out and to the registration counter. Several tedious queueing experiences later I finally had my visitor’s badge.
Still, as stressful as this trade show is, it was very worthwhile. I enjoyed myself tremendously and discovered some interesting new beauty brands. Here are some of my brand discoveries at China Beauty Expo 2017, loosely organised by geographic region.
CHINESE EXHIBITORS AT BEAUTY EXPO SHANGHAI
Swiss-made cosmetics are a very popular product category in Asia (especially in China, Korea and Hong Kong); all of the big health & beauty retail chains carry several Swiss beauty brands (usually with a premium/super-luxe price tag). Swiss products are perceived to be high quality, with safe ingredients; manufactured with pure glacier water, organic herbal extracts, pretty edelweiss flowers and so on – Switzerland is the European Jeju.
As a result, there are a number of brands produced in Switzerland which are intended exclusively for the Asian markets (especially China, Korea and Hong Kong), and there are a lot of Asian beauty brands that are trying to profit from the Swissness claim by positioning their own brands as “Swiss” (you can read more about the Swissness issue in my recent Cosmobeauty 2017 show review). Whenever I am travelling in East Asia, I see Swiss (or supposedly Swiss!) beauty brands in the stores and at the trade shows that I attend.
So when I saw the booth of Tokalon Swiss Cosmetics (above), I immediately assumed that this was one of those Asian/Swiss brands. It turns out I was completely mistaken: Tokalon (its parent company is Cooper Cosmetics) is a genuine Swiss company which was founded in 1901 and is headquartered in Geneva. Their Tokalon beauty brand was widely sold in Europe up until the 1970s/1980s (if I remember correctly) when they started to expand in China. Today they have a well-established Asian beauty business – interestingly enough their China-designated product ranges are manufactured in China – plus a (smaller) European range which is made in Europe.
Tokalon was a first-time exhibitor at China Beauty Expo and presented its latest product launches: Cactus Yeast Water (see picture above) which is packaged in little plastic ampoules and contains fermented cactus extract plus four fermented cactus extract-based sheet masks. I tried out one of the masks that very night in my hotel room – it was nice: plenty of serum-y liquid, very hydrating and it had a barely perceptible herbal smell which I liked.
Another interesting hybrid company was Cloris Land, a natural beauty brand from Australia (see picture above). Cloris Land had a beautiful exhibition stand – I must say that I have never seen such elaborate trade show booth designs as at China Beauty Expo. Especially the Chinese hanbang/herbal beauty brands; they were beautiful to look at. Anyway, Cloris Land has an Australian product range (organic hydrosols and face care) and a Chinese product portfolio which includes six ranges with Asian products such as cleansing oils, essences, serums, lotions etc.
I really liked the packaging design of the Chinese Cloris Land ranges: Guaiac Wood Mentha Purifing range is clad in light green and includes 6 face care products, Malachite Iris Age-Control comes in a fresh blue-green; the packaging of Brown Alga Moisturizing range is more of a mossy green and the White Truffle Pure Bright Radiant range is glacier white.
There is also a Floral Mask range (five different sheet masks with floral extracts), the Floral Activating range (seven face care products (including three blossom-decorated toners)) and the Soothing Moist Repair Series comprises two products with camomile or calendula (I can’t make out the drawing of the flower on the packs!). Finally there is the Floral Air Foundation range which includes a primer, a liquid CC cream and a CC cushion foundation. Beautiful pink and green floral designs on the bottles and tubes!
Around half of the Chinese product ranges are manufactured in Shanghai. They are not quite as organic as the Australian products – I can’t read Chinese but in most of the Chinese INCI declarations that I have seen, synthetics like EDTA, PEG-20, 1,2-hexanediol and so on are listed in Roman letters/numbers. Also, I can now recognise the Chinese characters for “glycerine” ; )
Anyway, I played around with the Chinese Cloris Land products – nice textures, beautiful packaging; their Chinese best-seller include the no-rinse Pore Deep Cleansing Foam (the soft turquoise bottle with attachment on the picture directly above) which has a little plastic cleansing brush attached to the top of the bottle. You pump out the foam through the brush bristles and use these to massage the foam onto the face. I tried it out on the back of my hand (drew a few lines with my ballpoint pen first!) and what can I say, the lines came right off. Nice! And the skin didn’t feel sticky at all despite the fact that I didn’t rinse the cleanser off. Kind of a micellar foam perhaps?
Thousand Herbals (pictures above) is a Chinese, well, herbal brand; with traditional Chinese medicine ingredients and a pretty packaging design. The brand has four different sheet masks and a Tagetes Patula Repair Essence.
Another beautifully packaged Chinese TCM-style brand was Di Ziran (see pictures below). I don’t know when the brand was launched, or anything about the brand history but I spent at least ten minutes admiring the stylish and minimalistic packaging – the outer cardboard packaging is made from thick structured paper.
Also Chinese – but with a much more contemporary look – was XX Music (I put the XX because the first two syllables of the brand name were in Chinese). Now, Music had a fabulous looking exhibition booth (see the four pictures directly above!)! I really would have liked to learn more about the brand but unfortunately the language problem interfered. However, I was able to find out the basic concept behind Music’s new face mask range: each face mask is linked to a Chinese musician, singer or band.
I’m not sure whether these musical acts endorse the masks or whether it’s simply a really cool marketing strategy but each mask pack has a bar code on the back. Scan the car code and you get transferred to a music download (?) site where you can listen to the singer/band’s song whilst relaxing with your face mask. The outer cardboard packaging looks great, doesn’t it? Like a premium CD edition with cardboard sleeve, booklet and all the rest of it. The mask range was launched this year.
Hanamino is a brand-new Chinese premium colour cosmetics brand which will be launched next month. Parent company Chicmax had one of the big exhibition tents in the middle of the trade show grounds – beautifully decorated, of course – to showcase Hanamino and its sister brand, professional makeup range HiFace. I had a nice chat with Hanamino’s product manager; she told me that the brand offers 167 sku; mostly colour cosmetics but also some face care products. Check out the eyeshadow Rubik’s Cube in the picture above! It was made as a promotional item for the trade show and is not for sale, unfortunately – it was such an unusual (and well-designed) product! 36 powder eyeshadows are arranged in rows of three; you can twist the cube like you would a Rubik’s Cube and bring different eyeshadow rows to the front.
I initially thought Möshi Mosh! was a Japanese brand – as you can see in the pictures above they have a bit of a manga thing going on in terms of brand images! – but it turns out they’re from China and their product, which will be launched soon, is a diet food. It’s a clear gel which is sold in squeezy tubes (it looks not unlike a stylish men’s shower gel). The gel is based on konjac, chia seed and some sort of sweet potato and it is supposed to make you feel full before a meal without eating too many calories. You squeeze it directly into your mouth just before your lunch or dinner and swallow it – it has a thick gel texture and a light floral taste which is quite pleasant. I’m not sure how much gel you have to ingest before it is enough to make you feel full – their product brochure was in Chinese – but it’s maybe half a tube? I guess you’ll have to wait for the gel to be digested before you feel the effect.
On my very last day I met the founder of Coojiro, a Chinese company which specialises in mix-your-own gel polish kits. The sets (see pictures above) include 6 small plastic jars, 24 gel polish colours in little squeeze sachets plus one gold and and silver shade, a nail file and a clever little manicure tool – one end features a nail polish brush, the other can be used to push back the cuticles prior to applying the polish. With the kit you can mix any polish shade in the white, pink, purple and red spectrum; there are also beautifully packaged kits with blue and green shades and individual refill palettes.
And Soffy Girl is a face mask brand from Taiwan with prettily packaged sheet masks (I love the handbag design!) and jelly masks (packaged in colourful plastic macaroons) as well as some face care products. The mask range includes six Herbal masks (rose, aloe, seaweed, natto, immortelle and lavender), two pearl extract masks, a mask range with five Taiwan-inspired ingredient blends (gold, tea, orchid, milk and rice) and a Chinese-ingredients mask range (magnolia, swallow’s nest, ginseng, peony and lotus). The jelly mask range comprises ten variants – sakura, neroli, blueberry, apple, peach, mint and so on. There is even a Love Couples Moisturising Mask packaged in a twin sachet decorated with a heart design.
Soffy Girl’s skin range is called La Bretagne and is based on “luxurious seaweed extract from Brittanny – one of the purist seacoast in the world” (sic). The line-up includes a moisturising cream, a lotion, face oil, a light face cream, toner and serum and products are priced from 26 to 50 Euro. Oh yes, Soffy Girl also offers a Barbie range of colour cosmetics (the blonde Barbie, of course).
My favourite Taiwanese face mask brand Maskingdom was also at the show, with its full range of ERH skin care products including several new launches (like the cushion fondation in the pic above!). You can read about this cool brand in my articles here and here or in my show reviews of Cosmoprof Asia 2015, Cosmoprof Asia 2016 or Cosmoprof Bologna 2017. And in one of the packaging halls I came across the exhibition booth of market research company Mintel (or rather, Mintel’s China division!) – I occasionally write articles for Mintel.
I also enjoyed seeing Naturelab from Tokyo, the company behind the successful Moist Diane hair care range. Naturelab always has a fun exhibition stand, with plenty of video clips and product displays and stuff to try out.
On my very last afternoon I came across a charming little organic brand from Hong Kong. Kimature (named after founder Kim Chen) manufactures its 20-odd sku range in Hong Kong and many of the ingredients come from local organic farms. The product range is based on Chinese medicinal herbs (a combination of TCM and organic, how cool is that!) and includes six products for sensitive skin made with Honeysuckle (facial cleansing milk, facial oil, soothing lotion, moisturising cream, body oil and body lotion).
There are also four products made with Chinese Motherwort (cleansing milk, hydrating toner, face cream, body lotion and body wash), four products with Mugwort extract (cleansing milk, hydrating toner, hydrating cream, body wash, hand wash, body lotion, a massage ointment and a shampoo), five products with Roselle (cleansing milk, toner, face cream body lotion and hand cream), plus a coffee shampoo, the Mulberry Nurturing Essence (which, I think, is a conditioner of some sort) and Indian Mint hand cream. Kimature was launched in 2015; the products are currently sold primarily online but they also have a small retail store in Hong Kong.
KOREAN EXHIBITORS AT CHINA BEAUTY EXPO
Korean beauty brands were very well represented at China Beauty Expo; they were by far the largest non-Chinese exhibitor country. This is not surprising considering that China accounted for 36% of the entire Korean C&T export market last year. I saw Holika Holika, Tonymoly, Cremorlab, Skinfood, May Coop, Aprilskin, Dr. Althea, 23 Yrs Old and Swanicoco; Elishacoy, Fascy, Kocostar, Mediheal and It’s Skin.
Memebox had a big exhibition tent out in the fair ground, presenting its four beauty brands Pony Effect, I’m Meme, Ponybox Meme and Nooni. Colour cosmetics brand 3 Concept Eyes was also one of the tent exhibitors (they had a real party tent!). And of course there were various Jeju beauty brands including J:dew and Jeju:on which I have been seeing at various trade shows over the past few years.
On my recent trip to Seoul I had seen Korean beauty brand Jayjun everywhere; in “normal” retailers such as drugstores but also in the giant Seoul duty-free malls. The orange-brown packaging of its face masks especially is very recognizable (see picture below) and the brand logo JJ looks a little like the Chanel logo, don’t you think?
Anyway, Jayjun’s brand ambassador Park Hae Jin is a well-known K-pop actor/singer whose picture and signature is on most of the products – I noticed that Korean consumers goods are very much sold on the back of K-pop celebrities; the packaging of cosmetics, confectionery, snacks and food is usually covered in smiling or brooding pictures of K-pop singers, actors and so on. Anyway, Jayjun. Their absolute bestseller in China is the Real Water Brightening Black Mask.
Milky Dress (JR Cosmetic) is another Korean brand which I had seen in stores in Seoul. The brand was launched three years ago and was at China Beauty Expo to look for a distributor. Milky Dress presented its Bomb Pack bubble mask sheet – I’ve never seen a bubble sheet mask (I only know the regular foam masks which are now really popular) but have since found out that apparently there are a few bubble sheet masks on the market already. Anyway, the mask (in the middle of the picture above) looks a little spooky, what with the drips of foam hanging off the face. Milky Dress’ star products include the White Platinum brightening cream and the Black Luster Mud Mask.
And Korean medical beauty/technology manufacturer Meditop’s MT Care brand presented the recently launched acupressure mask Ionzyme (see pictures above). It’s a cellulose sheet mask that is saturated in a serum containing niacinamide, gingko leaf extract, diamond powder and centella asiatica extract. The mask has carbon-printed patterns which are tracing the main muscles of the face and focus on five key acupressure trigger points. In either cheek (of the face mask!) is placed a magnetised coin-shaped transmitter which emits very low-level electrical impulses which are transmitted along the carbon patterns, massaging and tightening the muscles and stimulating the trigger points. The transmitter can be charged via micro USB and is controlled through a smartphone app. It can also charge your smartphone in return.
EUROPEAN BRANDS AT BEAUTY EXPO SHANGHAI
The international pavilions at China Beauty Expo were scattered across the various halls in smaller thematic groups. The big European countries like Germany, France or Italy were also present with their country pavilions.
The 17 German exhibitors included both mass market giants like Herbacin, Kamill, Sebamed and Frei-Öl, salon/professional beauty brands such as Babor, Klapp and Kryolan but also organic beauty brands Annemarie Börlind (with a pretty exhibition booth) and Styx Naturkosmetik.
The French beauty industry was represented with 15 companies, including salon brands Filorga, Corinne de Farme and Institut de Karité Paris as well as Cosmetic Valley, while Spain was there with six companies and Italy with four exhibitors.
I was interested to see organic French beauty brand Argandia (and its sister brand Plantes et Parfums) in one of the halls. I didn’t know that Argandia was active in China but they are; the company entered the market four years ago, with the same product ranges that they sell in Europe. Argandia was at China Beauty Expo for the fourth time.
UK brand Montagne Jeunesse has an enormous range of face masks. I used to love their self-heating apricot mask but that was discontinued many years ago. Still, I always enjoy seeing the distinctive colourful mask sachets. In Germany, the Montagne Jeunesse range is limited – I think there might be four or five variants depending on the retailer – so it is interesting to see the brand (and its 100+ sku product line-up!) at trade shows.
In brief, Montagne Jeunesse offers 12 mask ranges, including the 6-sku Earth Kiss range of organic clay-based masks), the 23-sku core range of mud masks, cream masks, self-heating masks, exfoliating masks etc., 9 peel-off masks, 7 sheet masks, 4 hair masks, 4 foot masks, 3 spa masks, 5 men’s masks, 8 tube masks and so on. In Asia, the Montagne Jeunesse masks are popular – the brand was launched in China around ten years ago – so the company had a large exhibition stand at China Beauty Expo. I checked out the product line-up and asked about the brand’s Chinese best-sellers.
In China, Montagne Jeunesse has twelve masks on the retail market (in bricks & mortar retail, such as department stores and supermarkets), including the iconic self-heating sauna mask (that’s one of the masks variants we have in Germany), the chocolate cream mask and two of the men’s masks. The best-sellers are the Skin Polisher mask, the Mud Pac and the Ceramides mask for sensitive skin. The brand has also just launched a four-sku range of twin sachet Face Food masks in China and these will be exclusively available in online retail.
PRODUCT PIRACY AT CHINA BEAUTY EXPO
At China Beauty Expo there were a number of Chinese companies whose beauty products were heavily influenced (to put it mildly!) by the packaging/product design of various best-selling Western brands. I saw a company which presented a hair care range that looked very much like P&G’s classic Herbal Essences shampoos.
Or “Louis Winner” – the exact logo shape and almost identical brand name to Louis Widmer, a well-known German pharmacy beauty brand.
And then there are the hard-core Chinese product fakes, presented quite openly. There was this one company, Guangzhou Aijing Cosmetics Co, whose shelves were crammed with Sun Ozon sun care products. Now, Sun Ozon is the own label brand of German drugstore retailer Rossmann and although Rossmann recently launched its own brand shop on Chinese e-commerce site Tmall (and I also met their official Chinese distributor; more on that later!) the product display looked fishy.
I know that there are many grey market products floating around on Tmall and Taobao (the Chinese Ebay); purchased by Chinese shopping tourists in Germany and then sold further on. I live in the city centre of Berlin (Berlin is the most popular German city amongst visitors from China and Hong Kong) and watching a group of Chinese buyers storm into a DM or Rossmann store with their shopping lists (densely printed pages with the product names in Chinese and German) and proceed to empty the shelves – well, it’s an experience. The majority of these products are then sold to Chinese consumers on various Chinese e-commerce platforms; with a significant mark-up, of course.
And one of the reasons why Rossmann and its competitor DM have now opened their official stores on Tmall was to stem the product drain and regain some power over where and how their products are sold in China.
So I checked out the products and while the design on the front of the packaging (with the original German-language product name and ingredient claims) looked somewhat authentic, the back of the packaging was not. It was in German, yes, but full of typos, bad translations and layout mistakes. The usual “Rossmann Qualitätsmarke, produziert in Europa“ reads “Sunozon Qualitätsmarke hergestellt in Deutschland“ with a German manufacturer’s address in a small Brandenburg town (obviously someone just plucked a likely-sounding German town and street address).
I assume the German packaging copy is supposed to fool the Chinese consumers, making them think that the product was imported from Germany. As soon as I started to take pictures several booth attendants came swarming towards me, “no pictures, no pictures”. Yes, well, here the pictures are. And if anyone is interested, I have more images as well as the trade show catalogue with the exact address of Guangzhou Aijing Cosmetics Co.
That very same day I also met Rossmann’s official distributor in China, Qingdao Sino-German Ecopark Industrial Development Co. I was walking past their stand and saw, yet again, Rossmann own label brands (this time is was their feminine hygiene product brand Facelle). I was immediately suspicious but it turned that that all was above board – Qingdao Ecopark is the official Rossmann distributor in China; they also represent other German brands such as Bitburger beer, Brüggen muesli and Sonett organic household cleansers.
It was interesting to get a glimpse into how the whole China distribution business works; Quingdao (and its foreign brands) attend some 15 trade shows in China each year, including the biggest domestic consumers goods show, Canton Fair. It was Qingdao Ecopark’s first time at China Beauty Expo with the Rossmann brands; I was told that the brands are not only sold online but also offline in supermarkets and drugstores.
CHINESE RETAILERS AT CHINA BEAUTY EXPO
It was interesting to see some of the major Chinese e-commerce platforms attend the trade show. They were amongst the tent exhibitors in the middle of the fair grounds – you walk into the tent and there are shelves with some of their best-selling beauty brands; information about the retailer (all in Chinese, unfortunately, but I sort of got the gist); and trade show visitors could also purchase selected products right there at China Beauty Expo or place orders (I think). There were large seating areas full of people in business discussions, product leaflets and what looked like order forms.
I first visited the tent of JD.com (or rather, Jingdong which is the company’s name), the most important Chinese E-commerce platform after Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao sites. JD was launched in 2014 and the group says that it is the largest Chinese e-commerce company by revenue. Net revenue in first quarter 2017 went up 41.2% to RMB76.2 billion (USD 11.1 billion). The company website also states that JD has the largest fulfillment infrastructure of any e-commerce company in China – there are currently 7 fulfillment centers and 263 warehouses covering 2,672 counties and districts across China. Wow!
And I’ve just read that JD recently formed a new logistics venture, JD Logistics, which is trying out product delivery by drones! Apparently the company already operates drone deliveries in larger cities and now they want to invest into heavy-load drones, to deliver products to their customers in China’s more rural areas. And to pick up fresh farm produce like fruit and vegetables and transport it back to the cities as quickly as possible. I believe they are trying out the heavy-drone deliveries in the Northern Shaanxi province.
Just a few doors down, so to speak, was the tent booth of Ms Onion, a cross-border e-commerce platform which was launched in 2015. The product brochure was in Chinese only and Google Translate wasn’t much help, but after a little judicious online research I found some info on the company. Ms Onion is based in Guanghzou; the company is an internet start-up and received funding from various investment and tech capital firms in China. For full year 2016 Ms Onion posted value turnover of RMB 500 million (around 46m Euro).
Ms Onion advertises “low cost high profit” and “earning money from home with Onion” (these two slogans were in English) so I think the platform might be a kind of cross-border Taobao – a micro-seller site much like Ebay, where anyone can open a shop and conduct cross-border business while Ms Onion handles the logistics, import of goods and so on. Or perhaps Ms. Onion is encouraging its customers to buy products and then re-sell them? Both sound like classic Chinese consumer goods business models.
Btw, if anyone can confirm this or would be willing to share more information about Ms Onion, please do so!
The Ms Onion brochure advertises 1886 overseas brands in all sorts of consumer goods categories – personal care, cosmetics, baby care, milk powder, foods, accessories, supplements, household products, small electronics, confectionery, foods, pet care and so on and so forth – which are available for 30-40% less than the Chinese RRP. In the Ms Onion tent there were shelves full of Western, Japanese and Korean beauty products with a bar code strategically placed behind each product and the Ms Onion price prominently displayed (see pictures above).
The Balea Beauty Effect Lifting ampoule set (Balea is the own label beauty brand of German drugstore retailer DM and one of the most popular German brands in the cross-border e-commerce business) is retailed at 32 RMB (just over 4 Euro) while the large bottle of Avène’s Thermal Water Spray is available for 73 RMB (9.50 Euro). Ms Onion doesn’t have a website, just two bar codes to scan – one is for the online shop, the other for the company’s WeChat presence.
The complete antithesis to JD, Ms. Onion etc. al. was The Beauty Box, a Hong Kong based start-up which was launched in January 2017. The company behind The Beauty Box – IBD Shop – retails and markets international beauty brands in China, with a focus on unusual and niche brands rather than the big labels. They also emphasise that they believe that foreign brands should be popular (i.e. register turnover) in China because of product quality and heritage rather than heavy discounting. I kind of like that attitude.
IBD is offering brand showcasing (marketing and promoting Western brands to the Chinese consumer), provides a retail platform for international brands through their online store; and they offer “IBD Shop Abroad”, a special platform/strategy to promote shopping tourism; i.e. target Chinese consumers while they are planning their next shopping trip abroad, and promote/build brand awareness for hotels that are located in or nearby key shopping destinations.
While this business model makes perfect sense financially, I’m not too keen on the whole shopping tourism aspect. Take Tokyo, for example, which one of the new shopping destinations for Chinese tourists. The Ginza area is now FULL of duty-free stores aimed exclusively at Chinese shopping tourists and as you walk down Chuo Dori, there is no escaping the busloads of shopping tourists (accompanied by gigantic suitcases) that are everywhere. The recently opened luxury mall Ginza Six even has a special bus bay for tourist coaches so there is direct access to the mall for larger groups.
Ginza Six is a fabulous store, by the way! One of the most beautiful Tsutaya book stores I’ve ever seen and a super exclusive Starbucks outlet, plus a gorgeous rooftop terrace and an excellent tea/cocktail bar (Mixology Salon) on 13F.
And here are some more impressions from the trade show. Enjoy!