How can new beauty brands use Chinese social media to market in China?

If you’re a new and emerging Western beauty brand and keen to market your products in China, it’s important to have a clear marketing strategy before you dive into the country’s vast and complicated digital marketing infrastructure. Beauty brands – especially niche and high-end beauty brands – can have huge success in the China market, with cash-rich, informed, savvy and motivated consumers always keen to discover excellent beauty products from new brands. But the more you can develop your brand, position yourself, target your consumers carefully and use the right digital marketing channels, the easier you will find your transition.

Why the Chinese beauty market matters

In terms of market value, the Chinese beauty market is second only to the USA on a global scale, and it’s one of China’s biggest and fastest-growing industries. [1] It’s important to know as well that eCommerce is a real driver for China’s beauty and personal care market – currently representing about 38% of sales and growing. [2]

Success tips for marketing your beauty brand in China

Every beauty brand will need its own unique strategy, but these focal areas are always important to consider:

1. Knowledge: that Chinese digital marketing never stops!

The Chinese digital ecosystem is usually one step ahead of Western equivalents and constantly evolving at a dizzying speed. This means that Western brands have the challenge of understanding constantly evolving trends, customer behaviour, market shifts and new channels – in Chinese! It can certainly make things easier to use the services of a digital marketing agency to devise an impactful, successful strategy with a ‘right the first time’ ethos.

2. Research, research, research

If you have an established brand in the West and some degree of sales in China, research the Chinese social media platforms to see what kinds of mentions you already have – using quality indicators as well as quantity. If you are new or have minimal social traction, then focus on building your brand in your target Chinese market. You will need a localised Chinese brand marketing strategy that focuses on winning the hearts and minds of your target Chinese customers, with all of their digital savvy!

3. Influencers: Find your KOL

A great KOL relationship can make or break your brand’s success in China’s beauty market. Find a KOL with brand values that are congruent with your own, and a persona that supports your brand. See if the KOL has done similar brand promotions and establish how successful they were. Does your audience match your target customer? Equally, are you ready to persuade KOLs about the quality and reputable nature of your brand? All good KOLs want to endorse quality brands for a win-win result – so prepare your own pitch and approach to build a relationship with a target KOL. Again, a Chinese marketing agency can assist with this.

4. Integration: Your KOL to your broader strategy

Your market research should have revealed partner profiles that attract the right customers to your brand. The beauty of the right KOL is that they will be able to build an authentic sense of affinity with your brand, raising its profile in the process with Chinese beauty lovers. A KOL might set a beauty topic that links with your brand and lead discussions, encouraging Chinese customers to talk about their brand experiences online. The right foundation of KOL partnership with ongoing interventions and key events or points in your campaign should result in a sales increase.

5. Live streaming: essential for beauty brands in China

Live streaming isn’t as popular in the West as it is in China, where customers love it! Chinese online platforms such as WeChat mini-programs, Alibaba Taobao Live and are optimised for this type of e-commerce based live streaming, along with Douyin, the short-video platform. Thanks to the excellent degree of targeting available, it is possible to put your high-quality, targeted beauty brand content in front of the right Chinese customers.

6. Partnerships: worth investing in

Babor, the German skincare brand is successfully partnering with Beauty Farm, the Chinese beauty chain, and its Tmall store already has over 20,000 fans. This partnership has allowed Babor to broaden its range and leapfrog into the right customer markets, and it now has huge plans for growth. These kinds of strategic partnerships can be excellent for niche beauty brands wanting to make their mark in China.

7. Targeting: for your products

Young Chinese customers want quality, organic, vegan and cruelty-free products – with options for personalisation and seasonality. They love fun, fashionable, high-tech concepts and products made for special occasions, such as important Chinese festivals. For example, Perfect Diary used WeChat, Weibo, and Tmall to launch a special Mid-Autumn Festival ‘Jade Rabbit’ eye palette, in partnership with China Aerospace Science. Further KOL partnerships brought the product to life with product tutorials and showcases. The #PerfectDiaryRabbitPalette hashtag had over 110 million views alone and the campaign was a huge success (and lucrative result) for the brand.

8. Digital assets: an optimised, holistic and organised system

From your smartphone-optimised website and app through to your Tmall store, Chinese social media platform presence, KOL relationships and content strategies, it’s essential to integrate all aspects of your Chinese digital marketing campaign for your beauty brand. The better you can create a seamless, integrated digital experience that allows your customers to find your brand, engage with it and buy your products in a few quick clicks, the better. Equally, the better you can leverage the deep data available on many of China’s digital marketing platforms – from Baidu for online advertising to Little RED Book (Xiaohongshu) for social engagement, the better your insights and ability to create a successful campaign.

Find out more

Ready to launch and grow your beauty brand in China? Market Me China is here to help you succeed, with a team of experienced digital marketing professionals who can work on a flexible basis with your brand, to secure your goals. With native language skills and cutting-edge Chinese digital marketing know-how, we evidence our value and can support you at every stage of your digital marketing journey. Contact us today to find out more.