Retail notes from Hong Kong: [Store Profile] Mi Ming Mart

On my very last afternoon in Hong Kong I visited beauty retailer Mi Ming Mart‘s Causeway Bay outlet.

It was actually a recommendation by someone I had met at Cosmoprof Asia trade show the previous day: Sophie from Hong Kong-based organic beauty distributor Aura HK – the company’s portfolio includes European brands like Dr. Hauschka, Melvita, Sanoflore, Flow Cosmetics and Avril – suggested that I check out Mi Ming Mart, a clean beauty store chain founded by a Chinese beauty KOL (Key Opinion Leader = Influencer). It sounded intriguing (and I do love me some female entrepreneurship!) so I went – and Mi Ming Mart is indeed a fascinating retailer.

The first Mi Ming Mart was opened in 2009, so the company has been a mainstay of Hong Kong’s niche beauty retail scene for almost a decade. Founder Erica Yuen is a former beauty queen turned social media icon/celebrity who was also active in local politics between 2011 and 2016 – she is the co-founder of Hong Kong’s radical pro-democracy party Power Voters and from 2013 to 2016 served as chairperson of the pro-democracy People Power party before focusing on further expanding her retail business.

Which she seems to have been doing successfully: in February 2018 Mi Ming Mart was listed on the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) of Hong Kong’s stock exchange. According to parent company Inwell International’s annual report, group revenue grew 19.3% to HKD 123.4 million in the financial year ending March 2018 – a result which can be traced back to the opening of three new retail stores (Quarry Bay, Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O) and the strong performance of skin care sales. The company’s gross profit climbed 18.4% to HKD 74.8 million over the same period.

For more information on the company and the store click on the link below!

Mi Ming Mart: The store

The store I visited is located in upmarket Fashion Walk shopping mall near Times Square in Causeway Bay. It was actually Mi Ming Mart’s first Hong Kong store. As you can see the interior is stylish and bright yet somehow quite cosy-looking. It almost feels like a vintage store.

I think I had subconsciousy expected the store to look like a Beyorg outlet – Beyorg is the organic beauty retail market leader in Hong Kong; the company has stores in most of the city’s luxury malls. The interior design of the average Beyorg is severely green and eco – wooden elements, green plants and recessed lighting.

Mi Ming Mart, on the other hand, has a pleasantly informal and laid-back vibe – there are comfortable upholstered chairs and the walls are decorated with framed pictures and posters. On the shelves the beauty products are interspersed with books, dried flowers and accessories.

Towards the rear of the store is a makeup table corner which has has a distinct boudoir feel to it, with a sink (and paper towels) located next to it so you can try out liquid and foaming products properly.

Mi Ming Mart: Beauty brands

Mi Ming Mart sells around 50 international health and beauty brands, including cosmetics, supplements, accessories and beautytronics.

Most of these labels were completely new to me, like the beautifully packaged Nine Oriens range from Hong Kong (the brand’s products are manufactured in Australia). See pics below.

Or fellow Hong Kong beauty brand Evie (see pic above) which is also produced in Australia. The Herb Farm (see pic below) is an organic niche brand from New Zealand while Botani Skincare and Meeka hail from Australia.

The company also sells Snow Fox Arctic Skincare, a Taiwanese-Australian beauty brand that I really like. A few years ago I had met the company’s founders at Cosmoprof Asia (check out my 2016 show report for more info) and was very impressed with their products. And I just love Snow Fox’s packaging! See pic above.

Miming Mart’s organic beauty brands also include Esse Probiotic Skincare from South Africa, Vanessa Megan and Vapour Beauty from the US and Ami Iyok from Spain. The latest arrival is Australian brand Ere Perez.

The store’s beauty line-up focuses squarely on face care but there are some makeup brands as well, including the products of Vapour Beauty and a mineral cosmetics range under the Synergie Skin brand.

Synergie Skin is an Australian brand and Mi Ming Mart is the exclusive Synergie distributor in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China. You can see some of the brand’s product line-up in the pics below: face care is one of the bestsellers within the Synergie portfolio. However, the brand also offers hair and body care products and there is even a men’s range.

Mi Ming Mart: Company strategy

Although the distribution business is a key part of Mi Ming Mart’s activities more than 99% of last year’s annual turnover came from product sales, says the company (or rather, their annual report!). Another important focus is the retailer’s online shop. Over the next year the online store will be overhauled and expanded into a lifestyle information portal.

Interestingly enough the annual report also states that Mi Ming Mart is planning to expand its marketing activities and customer reach by investing into mainstream advertising media, such as television and outdoor advertising, newspapers and magazines and advertisements in mass transit (i.e. public transport, such as subway stations and trains).

This made me smile at first – over here in Europe brands and retailers are all scrambling to focus their advertising activities on social media channels, while bloggers, vloggers and Insta influencers are being courted as advertising royalty. In the meantime Mi Ming Mart is going back to the basics, so to speak ; )

However, the company was founded by an influencer I would imagine they already have the social media side thoroughly covered. And for a chain of offline stores it makes perfect sense to invest in local offline advertising.

This is such an interesting company; I’ll definitely keep an eye on Mi Ming Mart! I like that it is a female-owned retail business and it’s also family-run, from what I could make out; Erica Yuen and her sister are both executive directors of the company. Next time I’m in Hong Kong (probably for Cosmoprof Asia 2019; I already reserved my favourite Wan Chai hotel for November!) I’ll try and visit a couple of other Mi Ming Marts. And who knows, there might be a few new retail stores by then.

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Filed under Asia, Brand Profiles, Industry News, Retail, Store Profiles, Trade Shows, Travel, Trends

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