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How C-beauty brand Timage is leveraging social media to grow its consumer base

Timage (彩棠) is a Chinese makeup brand. During 2022 Douyin Double 11, it performed exceptionally well, ranking among the top ten highest-selling makeup companies. Timage has been growing non-stop for the past year and a half. How was it able to increase popularity so drastically?

The pandemic caused temporary setback for China’s beauty industry

Due to the pandemic, the beauty & personal care industry in China underwent a decline in sales. According to Statista, in 2020, China’s cosmetics industry generated about USD 1.49 billion less than the previous year. However, the market is expected to recover and grow steadily in the years to come.

Chinese cosmetics industry
Source: Statista, designed by Daxue Consulting, 2018-2027 estimates of the revenues in the Chinese cosmetics industry in billion USD

Timage: a fast-growing makeup brand heavily investing in R&D

Timage is a makeup brand founded in 2014 by Mr. Tang Yi, a famous makeup artist with more than 20 years of experience and millions of fans on Douyin (抖音). The brand was acquired in 2019 by Proya Cosmetics Co., Ltd., a company that also owns Off&Relax, Hapsode, CORRECTORS, UZRO, and Hanya.

According to the corporation’s 2022 semi-annual report, Timage generated over RMB 2 billion in the first six months of the year alone, with a year-over-year (YoY) variation of 110% compared to the same period in the previous year. The Proya Group highly values Research & Development (R&D). In fact, it increased its R&D investments by 96.66%, going from RMB 31.7 million in the first half of 2021 to RMB 61 million in the same period of 2022.

Timage’s products are only sold online through e-commerce platforms and social media, like Douyin and Little Red Book (小红书). Advertising and selling on these channels allowed the brand to better target young Chinese consumers.

Timage’s “Original Beauty” permeates all marketing campaigns

Timage offers high-quality products that combine both modern and traditional concepts. The brand was designed for Chinese women’s facial features, but it also incorporates international makeup fashion. Timage’s vision is centred around promoting self-appreciation and bringing out each woman’s beauty and uniqueness.

In order to convey this message, the brand has carefully planned out collaborations and marketing campaigns on social media.

Timage’s marketing campaigns and collaborations to promote self-acceptance and embracing original beauty

In April 2022, they launched the “Witness the Pure Beauty” Challenge (见证原生美) in collaboration with HIMO 海马体, a professional photography company. They set up makeup tables and large screen ads in HIMO offline stores, then invited costumers to take ID photos wearing the “original beauty” (原生美) makeup created by the brand founder Tang Yi and encouraged them to share their pictures online.

Source: Timage official page on Little Red Book, “Witness the pure beauty” campaign

In October, Timage released the “More than one side of beauty” (每一面都是美一面) initiative in collaboration with the magazine SUPER, which gained a huge success. Featuring three women with unconventional beauties, through this event the brand wanted to encourage Chinese women to embrace their true selves and body features without shame, to let them feel beautiful in their own way. The chosen KOLs are Alex, a woman with androgynous traits, Chang Jingyue (常靖悦) a blogger with a plump body shape, and Mire (米热), a model with a birthmark on her face.

On Weibo, the hashtag #每一面都是美一面# reached 130 million views, 1.34 TVC video plays and opened 25,500 discussions.

Timage: More than one side of beauty
Source: SUPER official page on Little Red Book, “More than one side of beauty” campaign. From left to right: Alex, Mire, and Chang Jingyue

Timage’s social media marketing campaigns are consistent with its brand image and all convey the message of self-love. From the KOLs selection to the collaboration partners, the brand has been working to gain consumers’ trust and to communicate the idea of a brand made for young people and for all kinds of faces and bodies.

The “Great Beauty” project played a key role in Timage’s growth

Douyin plays a key role in the beauty industry in China, but it is especially important for local brands. This short-video platform offers an opportunity for cosmetics companies to build brand awareness among young consumers, who make up their main target demographic. Additionally, compared to other platforms, the competition from international companies is relatively weaker.

On October 25th 2022, the live broadcast “Great Beauty” (了不起的美) debuted on Douyin in collaboration with Huasheng Media (栩栩华生全集团). Featuring popular influencers, models and singers, the project explored new frontiers of modern oriental aesthetics. Timage took the opportunity and launched the challenge “Chinese original beauty makeup” (原生中国妆). For the challenge, they developed customised brand stickers for the first time in the brand’s history, which were then used during the “Great Beauty” livestreams. The challenge proved to be a success, as it was played 150 million times and the stickers were used 56 thousand times.

Thanks to the exposure offered by the “Great Beauty” campaign, Timage in China recorded a 380% YoY increase in gross merchandise volume (GVM) sales during 2022 Douyin Double 11.

“Great Beauty” event advertisement
Source: Weibo, “Great Beauty” event advertisement

Timage and Florasis: two makeup brands that focus on Chinese beauty

Florasis (花西子) is a Chinese makeup brand founded in 2017, that has won over Chinese’ and foreigners’ interest thanks to its special design, which surfs the Guochao trend and is inspired by the Miao ethnic group jewellery. Compared to Timage, Florasis invests more on R&D and on marketing strategies involving KOLs. However, Timage values more consumers’ education on the use of makeup products. In fact, it releases on social media makeup tutorials featuring the founder and makeup artist Tang Yi.

Taking inspiration from the Chinese tradition

Both brands take inspiration from the Chinese tradition. Florasis’ Chinese name, 花西子, derives from a Chinese poem about Xizi – also known as Xishi (西施) – one of the four beauties in ancient China. With this name, the brand wants to convey that all women are beautiful in their own ways, regardless of whether they wear light or heavy makeup. The logo design takes inspiration from traditional Chinese windows, and it is symbolically used to show the brand’s open attitude toward the West.

Florasis logo
Source: Sohu, Florasis logo design

On the other hand, Timage takes a different approach by promoting simple makeup styles that enhance people’s natural beauty and boost their confidence. The founder Tang Yi developed a unique makeup technique called liubai (留白), which emphasizes simplicity and eliminates unnecessary complexities. This results in a balanced makeup look that is full and vibrant but not overwhelmed by excessive products.

The liubai technique actually takes inspiration from some of the Chinese traditional arts, like poetry, painting, architecture, which made use of blank spaces to emphasise important features of the composition.

Timage’s video for the “Great Beauty” event
Source: Huodongju (活动聚), the “blank” makeup style in Timage’s video for the “Great Beauty” event

Timage’s and Florasis’s performances on Little Red Book

Under the voice “彩棠” (Timage) on Little Red Book more than 3,400 posts can be found and more than 1,700 products are available for sale. The hashtag #彩棠# alone counts around 66 million views. The brand’s official page boasts 135 thousand followers and received 786 thousand likes, as of March 20th, 2023.

Timage on Little Red Book
Source: Little Red Book, Timage on Little Red Book

When comparing Timage’s performance to Florasis’, it is clear that Timage has a smaller following and fewer visualizations on Little Red Book. Furthermore, Florasis counts more than 6,600 products available for sale and 60 thousand posts under its Chinese name “花西子”. Timage still has a long way to go to catch up to its competitor.

Source: Little Red Book, Florasis’ performance on Little Red Book

Timage and Florasis were the only Chinese makeup brands among Tmall best-selling brands during 2022 Double 11

During China’s 2022 Double 11, Douyin ranked first for sales among the livestreaming e-commerce platforms, followed by Taobao Live in second position and Kuaishou in third. Just like in 2021, Florasis was the most popular makeup brand on Douyin for sales. In second position was the Korean 3CE, then the Chinese CARSLAN, while Timage got the fourth position.

However, Timage performed unexpectedly well in sales on the e-commerce platform Tmall as well, achieving the 10th position among the highest-selling makeup brands and registering an increase in GMV of 43% YoY on Tmall alone. On the other hand, Florasis ranked 2nd, surpassed in sales only by the Canadian giant M.A.C. It is also interesting to note that Florasis and Timage were the only Chinese brands on that list.

The impact of an insightful and consistent social media strategy on Timage’s performance in China

  • Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the cosmetics industry recorded a decrease in sales from 2019 to 2020. Now, however, the sector is on the rise again.
  • Timage is a Chinese makeup brand, acquired by the corporation Proya Cosmetics and Co. Ldt in 2019. In the first half of 2022, the makeup brand generated RMB 2 billion, with a YoY of 110%.
  • Timage’s astonishing surge in popularity is probably due to its effective marketing strategies. The brand has leveraged the reputation of its founder, Tang Yi, who is a skilled makeup artist, and has launched engaging marketing campaigns both online and offline.
  • During Douyin’s “Great Beauty” project, Timage launched the challenge “Chinese original beauty” and customised its own stickers.
  • The brand vision is to bring out each Chinese woman’s beauty and uniqueness. They promote self-love and self-acceptance.
  • Compared to Florasis, Timage in China has still room to grow. However, their marketing strategies are similar, as both brands take inspiration from Chinese traditions and are mainly sold online.
  • During 2022 Double 11, Florasis ranked first and Timage fourth among the most sold makeup products on Douyin, while Timage got the 10th position on Tmall.

Author: Chiara M. Barbera

Read our Double 11 2022 guide