KANS Chinese brand in skincare market

KANS strategy to take the premium anti-aging Chinese skincare market

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KANS (Han Shu, 韩束) was founded in Shanghai, China in 2002 with the slogan “science realizes your beauty” as its core concept to create empirical and effective skincare products for Asian women. The brand accounts for 2.1% of brand shares in the  skin care market in China. As a representative of domestic skin care brands, KANS’s signature red brand color is embedded with a sharp brand image.

KANS’s red color sets the tone for the brand.

Image Source: Chicmaxgroup.com, KANS’s red color sets the tone for the brand.   

In 2012, KANS’s mother company Shanghai Chicmax Cosmetics realized the strategic transformation of focus, deployed skin care, facial masks, mothers and babies, high-end toiletries, makeup, and other categories. KANS is positioned as a medium to high-end skin care brand in the company’s brand profile.  

KANS and One Leaf have created brand awareness in the skin care market in China through massive marketing campaigns.

Image Source: Chicmaxgroup.com, Chicmax’s brand portfolio, wherein KANS and One Leaf have created brand awareness in the skin care market in China through massive marketing campaigns.

A market-driven brand lacks differentiation      

KANS product categories are inclusive of all skin care products from cleansers to creams as well as facial masks, plus foundation, an essential makeup product.  As a mass-market brand, most of its products are affordable. Usher in the trends of premiumization and anti-aging,, KANS added anti-aging premium lines with advanced formulas and priced at around 200RMB which is still acceptable. Additionally, KANS developed an expansive distribution network, selling products through department stores, daily chemical boutiques, top 100 chain stores, e-commerce, TV shopping, Micronet (微商), and other channels.

The anti-aging line of KANS used black and gold colors to deliver a premium image and a celebrity Kris Wu (吴亦凡) as an endorser.

Image Source: KANS official site, The anti-aging line of KANS used black and gold colors to deliver a premium image and a celebrity Kris Wu (吴亦凡) as an endorser.     

KANS managed to set up products, prices, and places to the industry thresholds, and its promotions also shared a lot of similarities with other local brands in the industry. It used celebrities to endorse the brand and promote products through KOLs in live-streaming, as well as traditional TV advertisements.  

Li Jiaqi (left) and Weiya (right), with Kris Wu (right) appearing at Weiya’s broadcast platform

Image Source: Red, KANS’s face masks were promoted by the top two KOLS in the live stream industry, Li Jiaqi (left) and Weiya (right), with Kris Wu (right) appearing at Weiya’s broadcast platform. A KOL in the live stream sector plus a celebrity endorser to sell products through live streaming has become a popular online sales tactic in China.     

KANS attended to the trend of creating products in vogue 

Moreover, like many emerging local brands, KANS also created a product in vogue (爆款) and increases its share of voice across channels. For example, Thanmelin (梵蜜琳) aggressively promoted its premium facial cream through China’s once hottest entertaining program Sisters Who Make Waves. In KANS’s case, the product is the Hydra-replumping Toner, packed in the shape of a red capsule.

The catchy tagline speaks to formula-oriented consumers.

Image Source: KANS official website, The catchy tagline speaks to formula-oriented consumers.

The approach KANS took was straight on the point. It not only attached the product with a catchy tagline that is hyaluronic acid (玻尿酸) that could be patted into your face, but also a secondary association with SK-II’s flagship product, the PITERA™ facial treatment essence. The tagline speaks well to the growing formula-oriented customers. By associating with SK-II’s award-winning product, the customers were educated to perceive the toner as a low-end SK-II PITERA™ essence. This approach is effective if considering the success of SK-II PITERA™ essence among the Chinese customers and its price tag.

KANS Tmall store, the product page of KANS’s Hydra-replumping Toner indicates its association with SK-II PITERA™ essence.

Image Source: KANS Tmall store, the product page of KANS’s Hydra-replumping Toner indicates its association with SK-II PITERAessence.

Given the aformentioned, however, KANS’s products are unsatisfactory to a lot of customers according to Zhihu, and the product reviews on Red are polarized. Moreover, its undifferentiated product, price, place, and promotion strategies make it unclear where KANS will sit in the competitive domestic skin care market. One thing that remains clear is that with younger consumers being the key target audience of KANS, the market demands interesting and creative products and promotions that speak to them. Thus, it is of importance for the brand to not just evolve with the bigger market, but be relevant to its target segments.                 

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