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How does Perfect Diary, the light of Chinese-domestic brand, become so popular?

The first favorite Chinese brand of Chinese Generation Z consumers is Huawei, and the second is a cosmetics brand "Perfect Diary". It breaks the stereotype that Chinese local cosmetics are all shoddy products.

How long does it take for a company to have a market capitalization of $0 to $4 billion?

The answer given by Perfect Diary is three years, which is also how long it takes to go listing.

In its early stage, Perfect Diary was just a common beauty makeup brand spread on social platforms such as Wechat and Weibo, which could only be found in the digital world, just like the online celebrity brands on Ins and Twitter that you might be familiar with.

However, today, it has already become the sales champion of the shopping festival, being praised as the most promising Chinese brand, a make-up band designed for young Asian women, and attempting to create an internationally influential Chinese Beauty Icon.

YATSEN, the parent company of Perfect Diary, the online king of new Chinese-domestic make-up brand, formally submitted its prospectus on October 30th local time in the United States. At this point, the newcomer in the industry, which has been at the forefront of the wind and waves in recent years, has finally embarked on the road of listing.

A rising make-up empire

Of course the “empire” here is just a metaphor at the moment, and the current Perfect Diary is not up to this level, yet it does have this potential.

According to the prospectus, the total sales of Yixian e-commerce in 2019 was 3.5 billion yuan (about $ 500 million), an increase of 363.7 percent over the same period last year, with a net income of 3 billion yuan (about $ 430 million), a sharp increase of 377 percent over the same period last year. The adjusted net profit (Non-GAAP net income) was 150 million yuan (about $ 20 million); the net income in the first three quarters of 2020 was 3.272 billion yuan (about $ 450 million), an increase of 73.20 percent over the same period last year), surpassing the whole of last year.

As an onlin brand, the number of users of Perfect Diary, is also growing rapidly, mainly thanks to the company’s omni-channel DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) model. As of September 30, 2020, the number of membership in the official accounts of all the brands of YATSEN has exceeded 48 million. Among them, the number of DTC users purchased by YATSEN in 2019 and the first nine months of 2020 were 23.4 million and 23.5 million respectively, up 236.3% and 50.0% from the same period last year. The annual unit price of DTC users has also risen from 114.1 yuan (about $16) per person in 2019 to 120.7 yuan (about $17) per person in the first three quarters of 2020, which means that not only more and more consumers are willing to buy Perfect Diary`s products, but also willing to buy more products, which is the favorite double growth model of consumer goods.

In addition, although Perfect Diary is known for its cheapness – it is said that one Estée Lauder product can buy four Perfect Diary, and its big-brand substitute status has attracted a large number of consumers, but the company does not intend to be a cheap brand for the rest of its life. 

Perfect Diary is on the road to become a high-end beauty brand.

On October 19th, Perfect Diary officials announced Zhou Xun, a very well-known Chinese actress, as the first global spokesman for the brand, which was considered by the industry to be a landmark event in the upgrading of the Perfect Diary brand. 

Furthermore, in today’s marketing content, Perfect Diary`s design style tends to be more mature and introverted, while the previous preference for younger style and fresh color is no longer visible. Its brand image is significantly closer to the style of international high-end brands such as Dior, Armani and so on.

At the same time, on the night of submitting its prospectus, YATSEN also announced that it had formally acquired a majority stake in Galenic, a French high-end cosmetics brand owned by PierreFabre Group, one of the largest skin medicine and care groups in Europe, apparently in response to its high-end strategy.

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In addition, rapid growth is also inseparable from the opportunities of the industry itself. On the one hand, China’s cosmetics market is huge. According to third-party data, the retail sales of China’s cosmetics industry reached 38.8 billion US dollars in 2019, making it the largest cosmetics market in the world. Meanwhile, among the competitors in the market, there are many international brands and domestic brands, yet none of them can gain the dominant position.

On the other hand, the future of the beauty market is still bright. Between 2019 and 2025, China’s skin care and makeup market is expected to grow by another $29.9 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 10 per cent, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of the total growth of the global makeup market over the same period. The young generation`s demand for cosmetic products has increased, the range of product choices has been expanded, and the frequency of consumers’ purchases has increased. As they gradually become the mainstream consumers, the cosmetics market will continue to grow.

This has been, and will continue to be the chance for Perfect Diary.

The three men behind Perfect Diary

“Have you started your own business?”

“Yes.”

“How about we pay the money and take the shares?”

This is a conversation between the CEO of ZhenFund, Fang Aizhi, and the three founders of Perfect Diary in Shenzhen in 2016.

All three founders of Perfect Diary graduated from Sun Yat-sen University. Among them, Huang Jinfeng, the pivotal figure of the company, joined Procter & Gamble after graduating from university, and a few years later he chose to go abroad to continue his studies. In 2013, Huang Jinfeng returned home from Harvard’s MBA program, and like most young people with entrepreneurial dreams, he kept thinking: Should I start a business or get a job?

Xu Xiaoping of ZhenFund sent him four words: learn first, try later. Huang Jinfeng could not agree more with it. At that time, he had already seen the great prospect of the beauty industry in China, and immediately entered the domestic skin care brand Yunifang as a vice president, with a high starting point. The work experience of Procter & Gamble and Yunifang helped him a lot to start the business in the future.

In 2016, Huang Jinfeng left Yunifang to start YATSEN, the parent company of Perfect Diary, together with Sun Yat-sen University alumni Chen Yuwen and Lu Jianhua. They have explained that they chose YATSEN to remember Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China and their alma mater. In the early days of starting their business, the three founder often traveled all over the world in order to inspect various offline stores and enterprises in Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States.

Perfect Diary was officially launched in March 201. In August of the same year, it landed on Tmall and entered the e-commerce field of beauty and makeup.

At that time, the current situation of the industry was that overseas first-tier brands were encroachment on the domestic market, and the old domestic brands such as Baiguanling, Mianfarjia and Yunifang firmly grasped the minds of online users.

Those days were difficult for Perfect Diary. 

In 2018, as the traffic bonus was exhausted,  in addition to the cost performance as a selling point, Huang Jinfeng set his sights on social e-commerce. Perfect Diary launched a massive campaign on digital platforms such as Xiaohongshu and Douyin (The Chinese version of Tik-Tok)

The opportunity was thus seized by Perfect Diary. In 2018 Tmall Singles Day shopping festival, it took Perfect Diary only 90 minutes to break through 100 million sales, making it become the super dark horse of the beauty industry, and then started its explosive growth.

In 2019, Perfect Diary became the first domestic brand in history to top the list of Tmall’s Singles Day makeup. In that year, a survey conducted by Tmall showed that, Perfect Diary was the second favorite domestic brand of Generation Z, second only to Huawei, which ranked first

No one knows marketing better than Perfect Diary, maybe

If there is only one reason for Perfect Diary’s success, it is that it is so good at marketing.

First of all, Perfect Diary’s target consumer positioning is extremely accurate, targeting the post-90s and post-00s. The most prominent feature of this group is the strong demand for cosmetics, while their economic foundation is relatively weak, which makes the “high quality, low price” cost-effective products launched by Perfect Diary have irresistible attraction to them.

Secondly, throughout the history of the rise of online celebrity brands in China, we can see that what they have in common is to hitch a ride on the rising of a digital platform-some rely on social platforms and some rely on e-commerce platforms. The emergence of each new platform is an opportunity for the rise of new brands.

Perfect Diary is not much different from its predecessors in this respect, and it also has seized the dividend period of a new digital platform.

That platform is called “Xiaohongshu”.

Xiaohongshu is a highly commercialized social platform where users share and record their lives in the community through text, pictures, and video notes-it is a bit like a hybrid of Ins, Tik-Tok and Twitter. As of October 2019, Xiaohongshu had more than 100 million monthly active users, of which 70% of the new users were post-90s, perfectly matching the target consumer of Perfect Diary.

In fact, the choice of Perfect Diary at that time was confusing, because Xiaohongshu in 2017 did not stand out among many digital platforms, and Douyin and BiliBili were all rising rapidly at the same time, but Perfect Diary neither opened a Douyin account, nor operated and maintained BiliBili.

From the results, there is no doubt that the choice of Perfect Diary is so right: the number of users of Xiaohongshu was 50 million in June 2017 and surged to 100 million in April 2018, with user activity approaching 30 million, three times that of a year ago.  With such good opportunity, Perfect Diary stepped up its marketing efforts on the platform in February, with sales approaching 50 million yuan ($7.5 million) in June, and became the first makeup brand with sales of more than 100 million yuan ($15 million) on the Singles Day shopping festival in 2018.

Another weapon of Perfect Diary is the “private domain traffic”, a very popular conception in the contemporary Chinese market, which is also an area where it is obviously different from other competitors.

Perfect Diary guides its consumers to follow its Wechat and become a member through customer service – a very common practice in the industry, however, the difference is that Perfect Diary’s customer service is running by real people. The way that most other make-up brands maintain their customers on Wechat is to distribute the information to customers in batches with the help of robots, and the content is completely standardized. Despite Perfect Diary also has a department engaged in content producing, the distribution is operated by real people and modified on a case-by-case basis, which is non-standardized.

The benefit is obvious: consumers are more likely to feel the concern from a real person than the cold response of a machine. This will naturally be more liked by consumers – Perfect Diary doesn’t have to do well, but it’s enough to be better than its competitors.

And Perfect Diary didn’t stop there.

Despite it rose in Xiaohongshu, Perfect Diary did not stop developing. Instead, it entered the top of the industry with the help of Taobao live broadcasting. Since then, it has carried out comprehensive operations on Weibo, WeChat, Douyin and other platforms, forming a huge marketing network.

Finally, it can not be ignored that the quality of Perfect Diary products is not bad, nothing like those cheap and low-quality Chinese goods of the last century. It’s not a parody of the international beauty brands you may be familiar with, nor is it to make quick money – it’s not the unknown Chinese-made make-up products you may find in Amazon, aliexpress and Chinatown – those products with uneven quality even won’t be found in China.

What Perfect Diary really tries to do is to shift the experience and technology that China has accumulated over the years working for international brands and turning it into an high-level Chinese domestic make-up brand.

Maybe it won’t be long before you to see products of Perfect Diary more and more overseas. Why not be optimistic?

References
[1] “后浪”完美日记的IPO剧本(https://baijiahao.baidu.com/s?id=1682696349314022307&wfr=spider&for=pc)
[2]开启赴美上市路,完美日记能否做“国货之光”?(https://www.huxiu.com/article/390909.html)
[3]3年,估值270亿,完美日记来到IPO大门口(https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/Bu3SdiVWLnGbavu1HJqugw
[4]“网红”完美日记,三年成国产彩妆第一,然后呢?(https://www.huxiu.com/article/359550.html)

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You are reading an article about Chinese companies listed overseas. The original intention of our report is to show the consumption trend in China. We quote the comments on the company and its products in the Chinese media, which are not financial advice. You should never use this article as key information for investment decisions.

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