The cosmetics company Lime Crime faced a big challenge trying to launch their brand in China. In a December 5, 2017 article on WARC, Global General Manager Kim Walls says she had to do some creative problem-solving. Selling to China needs a different strategy than she uses in her industry.
Speaking in Los Angeles at the 2015 National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Shop.org Conference, Walls said one obstacle to launching in China was the requirement that wholesale cosmetics are tested on animals. As a vegan brand, Walls and her company would never conduct business that way. The only other way would be to ship products right to China from the United States.
Shipping directly to China involves other challenges like logistics, taxes, duties and providing customer service in a foreign language. There is also a problem with counterfeit products. Walls said her company found out more than a million counterfeit units of their lip topper product were sold at retail outlets in China in 2016.
The answer to the problem was for Lime Crime to partner with the e-commerce company Revolve. Revolve is expanding their business into the beauty industry so the deal also has benefits for them. According to the WARC article, Walls told the NRF conference she wanted to work with Revolve because “They really stood out as people who were servicing a very similar consumer from a very similar perspective.”
Another strategy Walls used was creating a “seed audience” in China before the rollout. People coming to their website and looking at their social media feeds were encouraged to visit Revolve’s e-commerce site. This way visitors learned that Revolve would be the only place where people in China could buy real products. In addition, two hours before the launch (at the height of commuting time) current fans of the brand got access to Revolve’s e-commerce hub. This caused word of mouth to spread across social media channels.
Lime Crime also worked with a group of lesser-known online influencers devoted to the brand. Walls said they prefer their online content to come from people who are passionate about their products, compared to first-tier influencers who are their “own brand.”