How Tmall’s ‘Pitch Fest’ Leveled the Playground for Niche Beauty Brands

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Key points to remember:

  • Thanks to Alibaba’s Go Global 11.11 Pitch Fest, seven emerging American brands were able to get started on Tmall Global in time for the 11.11 Singles Day Festival.

  • To prepare for 11.11, Californian clean hair brand Vegamour has launched a strong marketing campaign led by niche but influential KOL and KOC groups that have raised awareness and created demand.

  • China is the world’s largest market for clean beauty, a growing trend driven primarily by millennials. In fact, a GMA study found that 90 percent of Chinese consumers stressed the importance of using products. clean beauty, by far the highest rate in the world.

Alibaba’s 11.11 Tmall Shopping Festival has quickly become the most important shopping event in China and the largest shopping event in the world. And now brands big and small are competing to participate in the event, in the hopes of winning over Chinese consumers. Still, entering the Chinese market on 11.11 could be a daunting and costly task for many emerging beauty brands as they take on beauty giants like L’Oréal and Estée Lauder (the latter of which has grossed over $ 15. $ 7 million (100 million RMB) in sales at last year’s festival).

However, with individualism and innovation continuing to fuel China’s desire for niche beauty, some of the top emerging brands attending the festival hope to use it as a launching pad to increase brand awareness and boost sales. in this booming market. But do they really have a chance? Now that this annual event is drawing to a close, many are eagerly awaiting the first results.

Thanks to Alibaba’s Go Global 11.11 Pitch Fest, specially created to help small and mid-size American brands grow their businesses globally, seven emerging brands were launched on Tmall Global just in time for the first day of sales of the 11.11 Singles Day Festival.

Alibaba Group’s Tmall Global announced on November 1 the winners of its second annual “Go Global 11.11 Pitch Fest”. Photo: Business Wire

Selected brands sell in China through the Tmall Overseas Fulfillment program, which gives brands greater inventory flexibility and reduces operational and logistical hurdles. Tmall Global also provides Pitch Fest winners with marketing tips, tools and resources that help brands promote their products and increase brand awareness in China.

Among this year’s winners is California-based clean haircare brand Vegamour, which has taken the hair and beauty world by storm since its inception in 2016, when the brand introduced an all-new revolutionary hair category called “Hair well-being”. Inspired by functional medicine, this one-of-a-kind approach to hair care actively inspires consumers to view their nutrition, physical and mental health, and emotional well-being as critical components of the health and appearance of hair.

To prepare for 11:11, Vegamour launched a strong marketing campaign in which the brand partnered with niche but influential KOL and KOC groups (Chinese students studying abroad, for example), which build brand awareness. and create demand. Together they garnered an overwhelming response for Vegamour’s GRO collection of hair, eyelash and eyebrow growth products ahead of this year’s 11.11 event.

Vegamour took to beauty blogger @ anna_life_1104 to review their hair products. Photo: Screenshot, Weibo by Vegamour

During this time, the brand has also carefully taken the time to learn and invest in ways to communicate with its Chinese consumers (such as sharing the brand’s story on social media platforms in China) and to relate. to their experiences.

“Consumers of Chinese beauty products are extremely savvy,” says Charlie Gu, founder of cross-border marketing agency Kollective Influence, which advises emerging beauty brands on their entry into the Chinese market. “They spend a lot of time researching peer reviews and expert validations before making a buying decision. While the market potential is huge, niche beauty brands need to focus their attention and resources on a small group of loyal and highly engaged consumers to generate initial word of mouth and sustainable growth.

China is currently the world’s second largest cosmetics market, reaching total sales of $ 28.4 billion annually. Meanwhile, it’s also the world’s largest market for interest in clean beauty, a growing trend primarily driven by millennials who pioneered international beauty standards. In fact, according to a 2021 GMA study, 90% of Chinese consumers today stressed the importance of purchasing clean or healthy beauty products, by far the highest rate in the world.

Considering Chinese consumers’ holistic view of health and wellness and their growing affinity for clean, natural beauty products, it’s no surprise that brands like Vegamour have quickly gained a lot of followers in China. . “Participating in 11.11 was very important as it allowed us to expand our products directly to our customers in China, many of whom have followed our brand since our inception,” said Vegamour CEO Dan Hodgdon. “China is also one of the main markets in the world for beauty and novelty and for emerging brands, being in China is a must to continue to progress and have long-term growth.”

Among the other six winners of Alibaba’s 11:11 Pitch Fest were California-based clean skincare brand Boscia, which has been at the forefront of the nontoxic movement for nearly two decades; Schmidt’s, based in Oregon, the first deodorant in the United States to be certified natural by Ecocert COSMOS Natural; Hawaii-based Honey Girl Organics, a 15-year-old clean skin care brand offering honey-based products including a line of creams and balms; and SBLA Beauty, which produced the Original Neck, Chin and Jaw Sculpting Wand, a technology-driven anti-aging solution that provides a concentrated serum to stimulate collagen while smoothing and firming skin.

The other two Pitch Fest brands are New York-based basq NYC, a maternity care brand with herbal moisturizers that are clinically proven to improve skin elasticity and relieve the tight, itchy skin associated with pregnancy, and Texas-based Bella Belle, a maker of exquisite, handcrafted bridal shoes designed to be both comfortable and beautiful.

“We know that beauty and the way we shop are constantly changing, and Chinese consumers are getting smarter and smarter as they want to know more about each ingredient and the technology behind our products,” Hodgdon added. . “So it is very important for us, as a brand, to make every ingredient intentional and to focus on the integrity of the brand when it comes to the quality, safety and efficacy of our products, as well as the innovation and building long-term trust. “

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