Originally specializing in basic skincare products, the Hangzhou-based brand, not far from Shanghai, took a strategic shift in 2019 by launching the Black Sea Salt Bubble Mask, a product that has become a bestseller, with monthly sales exceeding one million units on the Tmall platform. Other successes followed, such as the Ruby Lightening Serum and some Double Youth Essence.
Limiting its launches to a maximum of two new products per year, the brand highlights the use of elaborate ingredients such as red algae extracts, peptides and retinol. Considering that future success in the cosmetics industry will depend on the power of research, Proya recently announced the opening of its own R&D center.
Science, innovation and marketing
” Proya is popular with ingredient- and formulation-conscious Chinese consumers because it uses strong scientific ingredients and elaborate formulas. It also flatters Chinese pride, for example by participating in Harper’s Bazaar’s ‘The brilliant Chinese ingredient’ campaign. “, Explain Juliette Duveau, co-founder of the consulting agency The Chinese Pulsespecializing in trends in contemporary China, which confirms that Proya has a very strong R&D capacity and an independent laboratory.
According to her, the brand is a pioneer in the launch of new concepts. In particular, it is the leader of the ‘vitamin C by day and Vitamin A by night’ concept, which is very popular in China today. A wise choice because vitamins C and A are irritating to the skin, so western brands haven’t made them a priority “, explains Juliette Duveau.
In terms of marketing, here too, Proya quickly captures new trends: it was one of the first beauty brands to be active on e-commerce social networks and to start live sales, while developing on new emerging Chinese social platforms: RED, Douyin, Tmall, JD.COM, VIP.COMetc. »
And her communication campaigns make her stand out, while resonating emotionally with young people and women. Without ever highlighting a product, they convey engaged posts like the video that went viral on Women’s Day in 2021, which points the finger at gender stereotypes. The campaign slogan gender is not a border, prejudices are (#性别不是边界线偏见才是#) has been viewed over 300 million times on Weibo.
Empathy seems to be the leitmotif of these advertising campaigns that scrutinize Chinese society. On the occasion of the 2022 back-to-school season, the brand launched an awareness campaign against school bullying in collaboration with China Education Television. Shortly before, for the Qixi Romantic Festival, Proya chose to support the many Chinese singles who are under family and societal pressure to get married. With its slogan ‘dare to love and dare not to love’ (#敢爱也敢不爱#), the brand has thus clearly differentiated itself from the many box launches of other brands.
Little impacted by the economic situation
” Product + marketing + communication: this is the recipe for success sums up Juliette Duveau. The brand listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange since 2017 has registered a 36.9% increase in revenue in the first half of 2022 to reach 2.6 billion yuan (372 million euros). And its profitability is one of the best in the industry, according to Chinese news site 36Kr.
The financial site emphasizes this performance, which is all the more remarkable in its view that ” the Chinese cosmetics market is under pressure, affected by the control of the Covid epidemic and the interruption of logistics in certain areas “. 36Kr attributes the resistance of Proya to the high proportion of its sales made online – mainly via Tmall, Douyin (TikTok), and Jd.com. According to him, from 2018 to 2021, Proya’s online share increased from 43.6% to 85.4%.
In terms of positioning, Proya is mid-range (200-400 yuan) and still affordable for most students and recent graduates, especially during shopping festivals and live sales », specifies Juliette Duveau. Effective products at reasonable prices: a winning combination today in a Chinese market still dominated at the high end by Western brands.
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