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More than cosmetic changes

By XU HAOYU | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-16 09:42
Stylenanda announces its entry into the Chinese market. [Photo provided to China Daily]

On Feb 26, Stylenanda, a beauty and fashion lifestyle brand from South Korea, opened a popup store in the center of Beijing, which ran for four days, to announce its entry into the Chinese market.

Stylenanda, which means "this is my style" in Korean, was established by Kim So-Hee in 2004.

The idea to set up a business came after she posted a picture on Instagram of a leather jacket she had just bought.

The post elicited a comment from a member of the public seeking to buy it.

So, Kim returned to the garment market immediately and purchased 10 more pieces, and agreed to sell the jacket.

She then started buying and selling garments under the brand name Stylenanda. And she soon gained a solid customer base, prompting her to register the brand and set up a company.

Then, five years later, she developed a subbrand, 3CE, producing cosmetic products to complement the clothing.

The rise of social media gave a boost to Stylenanda, and the social media attributes of the brand are still a strong force that is promoting its development.

Meanwhile, "Pink Hotel", the flagship store of the brand in Seoul is widely recognized as a fun shopping place. Even on the Chinese review site Dianping and the lifestyle sharing platform, Little Red Book, it's marked as a "have-to-go" by many users.

According to some comments, visitors sometimes have queue to take pictures alongside the tub in the store, which is filled with flowers.

One user named "Quanqiutandiangonglve" on Little Red Book, says: "You may not like Stylenanda, but you can't stop yourself from falling in love with the store."

Ma Lan, Stylenanda's managing director for China, says that the design of the store took a lot of time.

"Kim personally tried selfies with many shades of pink, until she eventually found the one that frames a face beautifully, in any light environment."

The recent replica of the flagship store in Beijing attracted guests to keep clicking.

Speaking about why the flagship store is such a hit, Ma says: "Online buying is convenient, but the experience is not satisfying, even with advanced technologies such as AR.

"In comparison, though retail shops and popup stores reach fewer people, we expect each visitor to share the experience through social media platforms with at least 30 friends.

"So, offline retail is the medium for the brand."

The attitude of the founder means strict quality control. And Ma says that the brand is committed to producing cosmetics in colors that best fit the skin color and appearance of Asians.

Also, it pays more attention to product quality than cost control.

"A product needs stable quality to maintain its reputation, otherwise it's just a flash in the pan," says Ma.

Last year, the L'Oreal group purchased Stylenanda and started introducing it to more global platforms, including the 2018 China International Import Expo in Shanghai and one of the biggest local online shopping malls, Tmall.

Super Fans Day on Feb 24, which is a promotion activity on Tmall, saw the brand gain 590,000 followers, and its sales reached 14.55 million yuan ($ 2.17 million).

For now, the future of the brand in China looks bright, but there are challenges.

As the majority of the Stylenanda team speak only their mother tongue, they have to overcome a language barrier when working with L'Oreal China team.

Second, as the fashion and cosmetic products are imported from South Korea, the release of new products in China could be delayed for up to six months due to the current import regulations.

Meanwhile, surveys show that 53 percent of 3CE fans in China purchase cosmetics from different brands at least 13 times a year, says Ma, and they are "tasteful and picky".

So the brand has to be on its toes and lead the trends.

"The goal is to make 3CE the top cosmetics brand in Asia. And to achieve that we need to keep the original gene of the brand, and tempt Chinese consumers at the same time."

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