The sudden success of Florasis abroad: searches for the Chinese beauty brand spike, but can distribution keep up?
Founded in 2017, Florasis is a Chinese makeup brand brand affiliated to Hangzhou Yige Enterprise Management Co., Ltd. In Chinese language the brand name is pronounced Hua Xizi (花西子), which means “make up with flowers”. Florasis is among some of the rising domestic beauty brands in China, but in January 2021, the Chinese brand started hinting towards its high potential in foreign markets.
Source: Google trends, global search frequency for ‘Florasis’ spiked on January 24th, Perfect Diary listed for comparison
Florasis is famous for its intricately designed products which are imprinted with delicate floral designs. The target group of Florasis customers is 20-30 year old women, and the brand uses retro packaging and makeup concepts from traditional Chinese style to stand out from competition.
Western Europe, North America, Oceana and Russia are the first regions partake in the success of Florasis abroad, leaving South America, and the rest of Asia room to grow.
Source: Google trends, searches of Florasis vs. Perfect Diary by region
The success of Florasis abroad is thanks to social media
For now, the official Florasis website is only available in Chinese, but on Instagram the brand indicated that they are working on an international site. However, the brand focuses on English promotion through social media, including Facebook, TikTok and Instagram.
TikTok contributes the most to the success of Florasis abroad
Florasis actively uses TikTok to promote its cosmetics in foreign markets. The official TikTok account has about 45 thousand followers. Content includes unboxing videos of Florasis cosmetics, product reviews and make-up tutorials. In addition to the Chinese TikTokers, Florasis also attracts Western TikTokers to make short videos. For example, the popular make-up artist Jony Sios, who has about 1.5 million subscribers on TikTok, shot a video stylized in the Middle Ages where he showed how he does makeup with Florasis cosmetics.
Source: Florasis TikTok account, Jony Sios make-up tutorial
In order to target Western consumers, Florasis in addition to Chinese hashtags uses hashtags in English, such as #makeup #lipstick #skincare. The TikTok account also has a link to the brand’s official Instagram.
The hashtag #florasis has 7 million views on TikTok. The two most popular videos with this hashtag have 571 thousand likes and 124 thousand likes, respectively.
Source: TikTok, Florasis hashtag views
The first video is by Meredith Duxbury, a popular American blogger and makeup artist, where she shows a make-up tutorial using Florasis cosmetics.
Source: TikTok, Meredith Duxbury make-up tutorial
The second video is by Monica (@makeupbymonicaa) – a make-up artist from the USA with Indian decent. She commented on the brand’s impressive packaging and also showed how she applies makeup with Florasis products.
Source: TikTok, @makeupbymonicaa make-up tutorial
Another hashtag #florasisbeauty has over a million views on TikTok. The most popular video is a review of Chinese cosmetics from the popular blogger Kayla Freitas (@travelmomirs). Her video about Florasis has received 1.6 million likes and almost 10 thousand comments. She emphasizes that every Florasis product looks like a piece of art and that the product packaging is classy and delicate. So far, she has made 4 videos dedicated to Florasis, showing each product separately. She paid special attention to a red lipstick with a traditional Chinese carving design.
Source: TikTok, @travelmomirs Florasis review
The success of Florasis abroad: Instagram stories of Florasis to be closer to customers
Source: Instagram, Florasis Instagram account
In addition to TikTok, Florasis actively uses Instagram to promote its products. The brand’s Instagram is very authentic and steeped in traditional Chinese culture. In the bio, Florasis uses a call to action, suggesting to tag Florasis Beauty and use the hashtag #FlorasisBeauty to share stories. At the moment, Florasis’s Instagram account has 35 thousand followers. In addition to the pictures and videos of cosmetics, Florasis also posts tutorials and photos of Chinese KOLs that also use the brand, such as the make-up artist Emily Long Florasis also often hosts giveaways where subscribers can win cosmetics. In addition, the brand shares subscribers’ stories showing the unboxing or application of Florasis cosmetics. We can also see the events where the brand takes part in. For example, China Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week.
Florasis also has a Facebook page. This contains links to Instagram, Weibo and the brand’s official website. The Facebook page has about 1,800 followers. Florasis uses it to tell customers where the inspiration for cosmetics comes from. For example, the Florasis Luoshenfu Palette inspired by Caozhi Luoshenfu’s masterpiece is the story told by embossing on the palette. Another product, Floral Dewy In-Porcelain Lipstick, is inspired by the Eastern porcelain culture.
Source: Facebook, Florasis facebook post
Florasis uses such hashtags as #florasis #florasisbeauty #chinabeauty #makeup #makeupartist #beautymusthaves #musthave #musthaves #chinesegirl #cosmetics to boost page traffic among Western consumers. The brand also hosts giveaways where fans can win cosmetics.
Challenges for Florasis in foreign markets
The success of Florasis abroad is clear on social media, but the West is starved for distribution channels
However, from the comments on social media such as Instagram, Facebook and Reddit, it is evident that purchasing Florasis is not easy abroad. Many people are asking how to purchase the product in their home country and receive no response. This means the brand has an opportunity to develop stronger distribution channels in foreign countries.
When searching for ‘Florasis’ on the US Amazon store, there is only one result, which is the eye-shadow palate for $120 US, while the same product is on Aliexpress for around $71 US. However, Aliexpress is not a popular option for cosmetics purchases as it is synonymous with poor quality and long shipping times.
Source: Florasis Instagram, fans from a variety of countries all ask ‘where to buy’ with no response
Source: AliExpress, Florasis cosmetics available for sale in the west
How would Florasis have to adapt their products to succeed in the western world?
Western and Chinese beauty standards are different, and therefore the make-up preferences are different as well. While many westerners do enjoy the design and aesthetic of Florasis packaging, the skin tones and the color preferences are different. China’s beauty preferences are reflective of the homogeneous society whereas the west has much more diversity. Westerners are used to beauty brands that increasingly cater to a wide variety of skin tones, which means Chinese beauty brands which enter the west will need to adapt to the diverse preferences.
Additionally, western consumers tend to be very sensitive to the issue of animal testing. While brands manufactured in China do not require animal testing for ordinary products, based on social listening on Reddit, western consumers are already concerned about whether Florasis does animal testing because of their perceptions of Chinese beauty regulations.
How to expand the success of Florasis abroad?
The success of Florasis abroad is due to its activity in various social networks and their regular updates. In addition, Florasis often launches limited gift offers and giveaways, which is also a way to attract the attention of users abroad.
Additionally, Florasis participates in fashion shows and collaborates with other brands to bring the products to the international arena. A prime example is participation in New York Fashion Week in 2019, which contributed to the success of Florasis abroad.
Source: EC Linker, New York Fashion Show 2019
Florasis Beauty has successfully tapped in the an international network of influencers who are promoting products through their make-up tutorials and cosmetics reviews. However, Florasis needs to develop sales channels abroad quickly to meet demand. The question for Chinese beauty brands is: can this model be mimicked?