Perfect Diary is definitely one of the most successful cases in China beauty industry, but it’s not the only one. We have shared Judydoll’s case study before. Recently another emerging beauty brand GIRLCULT caught my attention and I think they have some interesting strategies that we should look into.
GIRLCULT is another example of Guochao (国潮 Chinese fashion) brand. It was established only 2 years ago in 2018 and they just finished serie A fund at the end of last year. They mainly sell make up products including eyeshadow, blush, lipstick, highlighter and bronzer. Average price is around RMB 59-139.
GIRLCULT’s Tmall flagship store was opened in Jan. 2019. The sales volume has reached 1 million RMB in a year. In Mar. 2020, it reached the peak - 13 million RMB sales in a month, among which over 52% come from blush products.
Actually blush category is not as big as lipstick or eyeshadow. The total sale volume of blush products is only 23% of eyeshadow. But this category is increasing fast and becoming more mature.
According to Netvoices, over 74% consumers in blush category are post-90s and post-95s, and over 10% are from post-00s.
GIRLCULT has a clear positioning and strategy - mainly focus on Gen Z and push blush products. In Mar. 2020, GIRLCULT ranked No. 3 in blush category, just next to NARS and Judydoll. Yet GIRLCULT’s product price is twice of Judydoll’s.
What strategies can we learn from GIRLCULT building a small brand from zero in such a short time and in such a competitive market?
1. Creative packaging and naming strategy
The paper packaging of GIRLCULT use high-quality paper with vintage and unique design. There is even a seal on the envelope, making you feel like you are opening a delicate gift box.
Besides, each GIRLCULT product name is also unique and very eye-catching. For example, one of the best sellers “Mood Blush Collection” includes shades “Curiosity” (好奇), “Look on” (吃瓜), “Crush” (着迷), and “Spoil” (溺爱) etc. These names make you want to buy more than one shade to match with different mood, and are easy to remember.
2. Not only products, but also artworks
GIRLCULT tells a story for each piece of product. The Utopia Eyeshadow Collection gives you a mysterious fantasy. The Mountain & See Collection was inspired by Chinese mythology stories. Each product is like a piece of artwork that is waiting for you to explore.
GIRLCULT also includes Michelangelo's David when showing the shades of blush - “The blush that makes David shy”. In marketing, GIRLCULT asks KOLs to provide makeup looks like popular movie or TV show figures, such as Mulan, The Wandering Earth, and Love, Death and Robots etc.
3. Interesting crossovers
A successful crossover campaign can bring a lot of exposure and attention. According to Glossy’s research, brand crossover campaign is the most popular marketing activities among beauty consumers (38%). Perfect Diary x Discovery Eyeshadow palette is one of the most popular crossover make up products in China.
GIRLCULT also did a very successful crossover campaign with Kobitos - a super cute figure from a Japanese mobile game. This collaboration makes GIRLCULT super hot on social media and creates a lot of buzz.
4. Choose the right platforms
The COO of GIRLCULT once said in an interview that GIRLCULT specially targets Gen Z (age 18-24), which accounts for over 60% of all customers. This is why they specially focus on BILIBILI, because the brand can find target customer accurately. After they have created some noise on Bilibili, they started to push UGC content on RED and Douyin for seeding. Unboxing videos is one of the most popular types of videos. We did some research to compare GIRLCULT, Perfect Diary and Judydoll’s performance on Bilibili and find out GIRLCULT has very good performance and many influencer videos have 100k+ views.
GIRLCULT’s success makes many people wondering if they will become the next Perfect Diary. In my opinion, GIRLCULT has its own uniqueness. With so many competitors doing the same thing, product innovation and creative marketing is not easy. I don’t think GIRLCULT will be as big as Perfect Diary. It’s not easy to copy the full strategy - product development, supply chain, branding, and even private traffic management etc. But I believe GIRLCULT will become a small but beautiful brand (小而美) and I also think this is what they are trying to do. I guess GIRLCULT’s case study tells us that brand building is the more sustainable way to win the competition.