Feelunique is one of the largest online beauty retailers in Europe.Its leading position in the market has prepared itself for a bigger market – China. In October 2015, feelunique launched its Chinese eCommerce site under managed eCommerce solutions provided by Azoya.
Chinese cosmetics consumers’ purchasing habits are changing, specifically in younger demographics. They are moving towards online. This means a shift in marketing strategy and distribution within the cosmetics industry, with increasing emphasis on e-commerce.
feelunique makes the right move to seize the opportunity. However, moving in is just the beginning of a long journey. There remains a lot of ground work to be completed, especially considering the complexity of the market.
The first and most important part is brand building. Chinese consumers are becoming more particular when picking cosmetic products, not only in terms of quality, but also in terms of health and safety. Good news is, foreign brands, especially those manufactured outside of China, are more trusted than domestic brands. However, renowned as feelunique is, it still needs to find the right way to build its brand and eventually convince Chinese customers.
To reassure Chinese shoppers that they are buying directly from a Britain retailer, feelunique’s original site provides an entrance to its Chinese site. After a customer places order, the parcels will be shipped to her/him directly from UK. The real-time tracking information can be accessed through mobile devices and web, which further reassures the customers they are not buying from an untrustworthy third-party agent.
With the concern over authenticity being alleviated, a competitive price would be a bonus. Traditionally, overseas beauty brands are sold to China through layer-by-layer chartered agents with at least 20-30% price uplift in each layer, causing the price being doubled in China. Moreover, there’re endless certification and registration requirements from the Chinese government. By contrast, the products feelunique offers to Chinese customers are of the same price as the UK site. Chinese customers can buy their favorite European cosmetic products in the same price, without any extra cost except shipping fee.
Another step to consolidate the result in brand building is to ensure an optimized shopping experience. Although Chinese consumers love to buy foreign brands, they have diversified specific needs that only local experts know how to meet. To reflect the timely demands of Chinese customers, Azoya assembles a specialist team to hand-pick the products to be sold. Chinese consumers also have nicknames for cosmetic products. They refer to various products when they discuss beauty issues at online communities. To help them find the right products in search engine or in-site search results, Azoya adds nicknames to feelunique’s products title.
Another difficulty foreign retailers need to address is Chinese customers’ low brand loyalty. Although it’s difficult to establish a loyal customer base in China, retailers must try it. What Azoya helps to do is to set up a dedicated social media team to engage with customers in social media platforms, especially in Wechat and Weibo. In order to draw customers’ attention and retain them for further campaigns, the team frequently interacts with them by releasing incentive-driven games.
After only 3 months of operation, feelunique now has a very promising sales growth in China. The average weekly growth rate of order volume registered 196.5% in the last 3 months. It’s worth noting that this outcome is not achieved by cutthroat price competition. It’s profitable and sustainable. As operation matures and customer base grows, feelunique is set to reap the rewards from China.