This article was firstly released by Jing Daily.
Last month, global style icon Victoria Beckham’s beauty line, VB Beauty, made its China debut on the e-commerce site Tmall. For its release, the celebrity founder showed her commitment to the market by partnering with the top KOL Viya to promote the brand through a livestream.
The brand joins a long list of celebrity beauty initiatives on Tmall in China, including Miranda Kerr’s Kora Organics, Kim Kardashian’s KKW Fragrance, and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, to name a few. On social media, netizen sentiment about the news could be summed up in one Weibo comment, which stated, “is beauty the pension refuge for all Western divas?” Clickbait-driven cynicism aside, the real question behind this reaction should be: Does China need yet another celebrity beauty brand?
Fame is a relative concept
Celebrity beauty is not a new concept. In the US, the celebrity status of star-turned-entrepreneurs Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Kylie Jenner played a pivotal role in building their labels’ reputations, and the fame of these founders has put their brands beyond the general competition’s reach. To many consumers, celebrity beauty is a force of disruption against the monopoly of big conglomerates. But in China, having an internationally famous face is far from enough.
“We’ve had a few inquiries from celebrity brands,” said Ker Zheng, marketing manager of the Shenzhen-based cross-border e-commerce enabler Azoya, to Jing Daily, “[but] the biggest issue is that they don’t believe in spending on marketing because they think their celebrity status carries over into China automatically.”
In the country’s insular media system, the younger generations are increasingly encouraged to consume domestic shows and follow state-approved Chinese stars. “Just because a celebrity is well-known in the US doesn’t mean they’re also popular in China,” Zheng added. “If they’re not popular in China, then the brand tends to fall flat upon entering the market.” And that doesn’t include the potential fallout for a foreign celebrity in China because of a politically incorrect incident. For instance, Lady Gaga was temporarily banned from the country in 2016 after she openly met with the Dalai Lama. This mistake could have prevented her from ever selling her brand on Chinese platforms. Read the full article at Jing Daily.