Ceramiracle Heads To Hong Kong With A Launch At Mi Ming Mart And Mainland China Via WeChat, Pop-Ups
Chinese consumers are about to get a lot more familiar with Southern California brand Ceramiracle.
The purveyor of topical and ingestible products has launched at Mi Ming Mart, a nine-unit beauty retailer based in Hong Kong. Ceramiracle is also headed to WeChat, the messaging, social media and shopping app, and has set up a marketing office at WeChat parent company Tencent’s Innovative Space in the city Wuzhen, an emerging technological center in China, to help establish its presence in the world’s most populous nation.
“Although China was in the plans right from the start, it wasn’t for the same reasons as all other brands. I grew up with a close group of Chinese friends and have been visiting the country since I was 12,” says Ceramiracle founder Eugene He, who spent his formative years in Singapore before moving to Australia and later building his brand in Santa Monica, Calif. “Having the network and knowing the language made it seem like a logical plan to take the business there.”
Erica Yuen, founder of Mi Ming Mart, which carries American brands such as Jane Iredale, Sircuit, Intelligent Nutrients, Briogeo and Vapour, was convinced to carry Ceramircale after she sampled its supplements. “I didn’t believe in beauty supplements until I tried Ceramiracle. I personally saw results in just a few days and was really impressed,” she says. “We are always on the lookout for inspiring brands with great products that will connect and resonate with our customers, and Ceramiracle is the right fit.”
“I didn’t believe in beauty supplements until I tried Ceramiracle. I personally saw results in just a few days and was really impressed. We are always on the lookout for inspiring brands with great products that will connect and resonate with our customers, and Ceramiracle is the right fit.”
Between Mi Ming Mart and department store retailer Robinsons & Co. in Singapore, Ceramiracle is stocked at 114 doors globally. It has its own outpost in Kuala Lumpur, too. In mainland China, where regulations require animal testing for cosmetics entering brick-and-mortar retailers, cruelty-free Ceramiracle is hosting pop-ups and consumer events without inventory to sidestep animal testing. Customers at them can purchase products by scanning QR codes, and products will be sent to them within three dates from a warehouse in a free trade zone or a zone where merchandise can be handled without customs intervention in China.
Ceramiracle’s distribution expansion is constrained by its tight startup budget. “We did not secure investments before going into China. This might sound crazy, but, having bootstrapped the brand taught me one thing: The more money you have, the faster the burn rate,” says He. “Being extremely frugal meant we tread carefully and [went] with options that would reap the best results. We did not set up base in tier-one cities like Beijing and Shanghai, so we could not only reduce cost, but avoid stiff competition in those areas.”
E-commerce will be crucial to Ceramiracle’s business in China. On top of its launch on WeChat, the brand is currently in talks to sell merchandise on the e-commerce platforms Taobao and JD.com. In addition, it’s considering a partnership with telecommunications giant China Mobile, and in negotiations with two Chinese television stations to make products available via the airwaves.
“Having bootstrapped the brand taught me one thing: The more money you have, the faster the burn rate. Being extremely frugal meant we tread carefully and [went] with options that would reap the best results. We did not set up base in tier-one cities like Beijing and Shanghai, so we could not only reduce cost, but avoid stiff competition in those areas.”
In China, He explains, “The traditional distribution to brick-and-mortar retailers would be a massive investment. Even with e-commerce, we had to ensure our supply chain could handle any potential surge in volumes alongside handling customer relationships. We finally decided on the DTC model, which worked well for us in the U.S. With a few tweaks and adaptations to the local technologies, we should be ready to roll in two months.”
Ceramiracle’s assortment contains five stockkeeping units. Its First Light Skin Supplement and associated First Light The Serum are bestsellers, although He notes the True Bright Skin Supplement is taking off in Asian markets. Phytoceramides play central roles in Ceramiracle’s products and are paired with plant-derived squalene in First Light The Serum. The brand’s core customers are women aged 28- to 55-years-old. However, it’s cultivated a strong male audience, and 30% of customers are men.
Buoyed by its push abroad, Ceramiracle’s revenues are on pace to quadruple this year. He is under no illusions that it will be easy for the brand to flourish in China, though. “One can never claim to be successful in China. The Chinese market is growing exponentially and the level of technology that they have created is unfathomable,” he says. “A minor shift in any algorithms could turn any businesses around so keeping up to date is a daily challenge. The biggest hurdle would still be having enough investments to reach out to the entire population if the goal is to make the business a household name.”