LimeCrime’s Innovative China Expansion

LimeCrime, a digitally native cosmetics company that brands itself as “Makeup for Unicorns,” has proven to be just as innovative with business as they are with their products. Their expansion into the Chinese market was faced with several challenges, each of which they overcame with creativity.

Global General Manager Kim Walls spoke about the expansion strategy in Los Angeles, at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Shop.org Conference. “Looking at China, one of the things I knew based on prior experience is that we couldn’t sell in any of the ways that I knew how to sell,” she revealed. Instead, the company had to be creative.

The first issue they ran up against was China’s mandate that cosmetics sold wholesale must be tested on animals first. However, they are a vegan and cruelty-free brand who opposes any animal testing.

In order to avoid this regulation, they would have had to ship from the United States. However, complicated logistics, duties and taxes, international returns, and customer concerns made this option unviable.

The second issue facing the expansion was counterfeits. The Chinese market was already saturated with them.

The solution was to partner with Revolve, an e-commerce fashion platform that carries over 500 brands. The two companies have a similar audience and perspective, and Revolve was looking to expand its beauty selection. The partnership was therefore mutually beneficial.

Through social media efforts and a burgeoning Chinese audience, the cosmetics brand has established Revolve as the only legitimate source of its cosmetics in China, reducing the power of the counterfeits.

Additionally, they focused on strengthening the fan base by allowing existing fans to access their e-commerce site two hours before the official launch. This helped word-of-mouth to spread, while also partnering with influencers to bring new fans in. To build a passionate fan base, they avoided well-known influencers, who often are focused on their own brand. Instead, the company chose less well-known individuals capable of creating unique content and enhancing the brand.

By using several innovative strategies, LimeCrime has seen a successful rollout in China and is focused on building a strong audience in the country.

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