Rebranding success: KANS’ transformation into a leading anti-ageing skincare brand in China

KANS (韩束) is a Chinese skincare brand founded by parent company Shanghai Chicmax cosmetics in 2002. Prior to its re-brand in 2021, KANS functioned as a medium-to-high-end skincare brand within the company’s portfolio, focusing on providing effective skincare products for Chinese women under the slogan “Science realises your beauty”. In 2021, the brand underwent a dramatic overhaul re-positioning itself as a competitive anti-ageing skincare brand specifically aimed at the younger generation, guided by the strapline “Han Shu, providing confidence for young people” “韩束,为年轻提供一份底气”. Today, KANS’ re-invention has achieved great domestic success with the brand contributing 43.8% of Chicmax cosmetics RMB 2.6 billion gross profit in 2021, up from 32% in 2019. To consolidate its position as a leading domestic anti-ageing skincare brand, KANS should continue to advance the efficacy and quality of their skincare range as consumers become increasingly interested in product formulation and ingredients, whilst maintaining tailored marketing and shopping channels to suit young people’s habits and tastes.

KANS aligns with China’s younger skincare consumers  

KANS’ re-brand success has been influenced in no small part to its commitment in style and substance to suit younger people. From selecting actress Tong Liya as brand ambassador, collaborating with popular influencers such as Li Jiaqi, affectionally known as the ‘King of lipstick’ in China, to a new focus on anti-ageing, the brand has understood and successfully catered to China’s younger generation.

In the Chinese market, anti-ageing is becoming a younger and younger trend. In 2021 KANS reported that, according to a survey conducted by China Business network, nearly 60% of those aged 20 to 30 have begun to feel the pressure of ageing while nearly 20% of young people aged 20 to 25 are “very anxious” about ageing. With 28% of young people born post 2000 using anti-ageing products, there’s no doubt that anti-ageing has become one of the most lucrative categories in China’s skincare market. Combining a new commitment to providing scientific, efficient anti-ageing products along with messaging and marketing campaigns that resonate with younger people has been key to KANS’ success.

KANS, New Brand Ambassador Actress Tong Liya
Source: KANS, New Brand Ambassador Actress Tong Liya

KANS’ key ingredients

19 years at the center of China’s skincare market

KANS’ relaunch in 2021 focused on the brand’s 19-years of experience and integrity, leading to the creation of an upgraded line of anti-ageing products, with dual research centres in both China and Japan, built in 2016 and 2018, and new patented technologies. With high-end anti-ageing skincare still dominated by international brands such as Estee Lauder and SK-II, KANS is successfully leveraging the Guochao trend, particularly popular among younger Chinese citizens, to position itself as the leading Chinese anti-ageing skincare brand for young consumers. The brand’s focus for the next 19 years is to continue this legacy of innovation, delivering the next generation of efficient and professional anti-ageing products.

KANS, Rebranding campaign after 19 years
Source: KANS, Rebranding campaign after 19 years

A ‘Champion’ Brand

In 2021, KANS became the official partner of China’s national swim team, releasing a short film called ‘Champion every moment’ in collaboration with the Olympic swim squad and beauty influencer Li Jiaqi. KANS’ new line of ‘emotional capsule masks’ was featured throughout, and the video won multiple advertising awards including the 1st Annual Integrated Marketing Gold Case Award at the 2021 International Advertising Festival held in Xiamen, Fujian Province. The short film was hugely popular among netizens, with the hashtag #Chinese swimming team’s championship moment# exceeding 110 million views on Weibo in the following days. The partnership with China’s national swim team deeply resonated with younger people and the Guochao trend.

During the video KANS co-founder Liu Ming spoke of her own personal champion moments and wished the Olympic team well, linking domestic brands and products to China’s “champion moment” and maintaining KANS’ image as a national brand. When the line of ‘emotional capsule masks’ eventually became available across Li Jiaqi’s broadcast rooms, the first release sold out within 1 second, demonstrating the success of the campaign.

“Champion moment” campaign
Source: inf News, KANS’ “Champion moment” campaign

Speciality marketing success

Another successful marketing strategy by KANS has been the use of pop-up events and speciality products and kits. For Valentine’s Day in 2021, the Chinese skincare brand held a pop-up event in Shanghai in collaboration with Flowers Plus delivering limited edition gift boxes and a “Happy Valentine’s Day to me” campaign, encouraging young buyers to love themselves regardless of their relationship status, and appealing to values of individuality, self-expression and self-care that resonated deeply with younger consumers.

The “Happy Valentine’s Day to me” Campaign 2021
Source: KANS, The “Happy Valentine’s Day to me” Campaign 2021

Utilising the growth of e-commerce platforms

Prior to its make-over in 2021, the Chinese skincare brand had traditionally focused on offline channels to boost sales but has since aligned with the shopping habits of China’s technologically savvy younger generation. KANS has particularly utilised the growth of Douyin as an e-commerce platform to increase sales. For example, in these years ‘Big Brand week’ on Douyin KANS achieved a total Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) of nearly 3 million RMB just 1 hour after its launch, with its star product “韩束红蛮腰”(KANS’ Red waist), a skincare gift box, selling over 7,500 sets and topping Douyin’s 2023 skincare product list.

KANS – a domestic skincare brand in a crowded field

China’s domestic skincare market is fast becoming a competitive field, with brands such as Chando, Winona and UNISKIN also vying for a greater share. So far, KANS has benefited from its established position. With 19 years of experience in the market, it has been able to adapt to new trends, re-branding and focusing on anti-ageing as well as developing highly creative marketing campaigns that resonate deeply with their target audience and the Guochao trend. KANS has successfully connected with China’s younger skincare consumers, but will have to keep up technological innovation to maintain interest from a growing number of ‘skintellectuals’, increasingly concerned with product ingredients and formulation for results-driven skincare.

How KANS became a domestic powerhouse in anti-aging skincare

  • In 2021 KANS (韩束) successfully reinvented itself as a competitive anti-aging skincare brand aimed at the younger generation, contributing to significant domestic success and increased profitability for parent company Shanghai Chicmax cosmetics.
  • Leveraging 19 years of experience in the market, KANS has aligned its branding, marketing campaigns and product focus on anti-aging to cater to China’s younger generation, tapping into the lucrative market of skincare for young people.
  • KANS’ creative marketing campaigns which have included partnering with China’s national swim team and hosting pop-up events with limited-edition products, like their Valentine’s Day campaign, has resonated deeply with the ideals of younger people such as the Guochao trend and self-expression.
  • KANS has adapted to the shopping habits of the younger generation by leveraging e-commerce platforms like Douyin to boost sales and achieve impressive results.

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