As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, we’re settling into a new reality. Julian Reis, founder and CEO of SuperOrdinary and his team, have been dealing with Covid-19 in China and share business implications, learnings, and insight into the way forward as the US and Western Europe are just now grappling with the virus on their shores.
From your perspective as someone who has their ear to the ground in China, what’s the current state of the beauty landscape?
In this situation, every brand has been affected in some way. However, some categories have benefited while some others have been hit hard. For example, as more people are wearing masks at this time, lipsticks have seen a dip as less people are using and buying. On the other hand, since more people are at home, many people have been using their phones, watching videos, social content—skincare has been doing very well as they have more time to research and find new products to take care of themselves. Overall, it is a challenging year to meet growth expectations that were set from the previous year as the industry is fast-growing, but most brands would expect an adjustment due to Covid-19.
How are brands navigating the current and hopefully short-lived new normal? Who’s been the most creative?
Communication from the brand is important and brands need to stay positive, authentic, and empathetic in these times. We have seen a lot more marketing steer towards online campaigns as more people are staying indoors, such as brands focusing a lot on livestreaming campaigns to promote their products.
Given your experience in the indie beauty business, how are you advising your brands to navigate what is sure to be a difficult year?
For the ecommerce beauty market, we haven’t experienced as big of a hit, unlike retail brands, through Q1. We have advised our brands that we would stay the course, stay aggressive and positive, while continuing to invest and focus on executing the plan that we had set. SuperOrdinary has always been brand marketing driven, so it is very important to continue this strategy even in a situation like this. During this time, we have seen consumers willing to invest more into beauty product brands that they would like to associate with—brands that they can connect with, rather than with brands that are purely price driven and of lower quality.
We are still in the thick of it, but what are the early learnings brands can apply from this situation to future-proof their businesses against global incidents beyond their control?
It is very hard to be prepared as these incidents are beyond control. What we have realized is that in the China beauty industry, the key between businesses is on the strength of your team. We have been very lucky at SuperOrdinary as our key members are loyal, and even in this situation where there are health and safety risks, they have continued to focus on their job and keep the business running. An important aspect in this global ecommerce industry has been supply chain and we have always focused on this—having a strong supply chain team has allowed us to weather the storm. Lastly, having partners (agencies, service providers) who are willing to help you out in these times has allowed us to continue running the business. It is very important to be a trusted business partner and keep good relationships with them as they would be able to help you out in challenging times.
Photo: Fusion Medical Animation via Unsplash