Daily Insights

Fenty Beauty’s China Foray

By: Liz Flora | Sep 09, 2019

Fenty Beauty is officially available online for China’s avid beauty shoppers after launching its new flagship on Alibaba’s cross-border Tmall Global this week. 

Like other niche international beauty brands wishing to keep cruelty-free credentials while accessing the China market, Rihanna’s cult beauty label is being sold through Tmall Global instead of the domestic Tmall platform. Through Tmall Global, items can be shipped cross-border without being subjected to the Chinese government’s animal testing requirement. 

Fenty Beauty joins a growing number of independent niche beauty brands making their way into the massive China market. Other cruelty-free brands launching on Tmall Global this month were Drunk Elephant and The Body Shop, while Miranda Kerr’s Kora Organics line has been on the platform for almost two years now. Kim Kardashian, meanwhile, launched her beauty line in a cross-border shop on social shopping app RED last year.

Selling on Tmall is a must for international beauty brands in China, as Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beauty China found that 86% of premium Index brands operate an official Tmall flagship. Fenty Beauty’s Tmall Global flagship features key functionalities important to beauty brands, including a loyalty program and celebrity content. 

This celebrity content includes not just Rihanna, but also local pop stars who can generate massive online engagement with a Chinese audience. Tapping into the enormous popularity of pop stars hailing from China’s idol-making shows, Fenty Beauty announced pop star Fan Chengcheng of boy band Nine Percent as its new Greater China brand ambassador to coincide with the launch. The band was formed on the hit iQiyi show Idol Producer, and the choice of Fan, the brother of actress Fan Bingbing, reflects the continued power of young male celebrities to market beauty products in China.

In a nod to its focus on inclusivity, the brand also posted promotions featuring Wang Ju, a contestant on a girl-group idol-making show who gained a cult following for her unique look that did not conform to the cookie-cutter, doll-like beauty standards embraced by the other contestants. 

The brand’s social content features Fan promoting Fenty Beauty’s upcoming Super Brand Day on Tmall, in which the platform offers extensive visibility on the app to the featured brand, including banner ads, pop-ups, and social promotions driving to the brand’s store. While Fenty Beauty has the budget to enlist mega-stars for large-scale promotions, smaller indie beauty brands will face an uphill battle if they enter the China market without the major celebrity brand ambassadors that have been crucial for generating brand recognition.