Luxury brands such as Chanel, Dior, Gucci, and now Hermès are all fighting for market share in China’s high-end lipstick market. In 2018, lipstick accounted for 39% of all color cosmetics sales in China, according to data from search engine Qihoo 360 and CBN Data.
The beauty kingmaker and KOL Li Jiaqi, more commonly know as Austin Li, gave Hermès‘ launch into the beauty category an unexpected blow as it launched in the Chinese market. As the rest of us were fawning over the attention to detail, storytelling, and packaging of the Hermès lipstick, Li went on the attack.
According to Jing Daily, his Taobao livestream, which attracted over 12 million views, brutally criticized the various shades as “cheap looking,” “unsuitable for Asians,” and “as unflattering as an old mother’s shades.” He snarkily added that Hermès’ five-year preparation for the line “only served to provide outdated colors used five-years ago.”
The clip went viral with his followers raving about his honest views and the firm stance he takes with brands, while others questioned his motives as a stunt to juice his numbers. Either way, the result is the same—this review that went viral took a bit of shine off the Hermès beauty launch in China. The launch, five years in the making, is going to face some stiff competition in the Chinese market as the Armani and YSL lipstick collections have received a much warmer reception at launch.
Beauty industry, beware the Weibo hashtag—TheLookOnLijiaqi’sFace (#李佳琦的表情) can make or break a launch in China.
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