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Chinese Actress Qin Lan Pulls in Almost 40 Million Social Views at La Mer Launch in Hainan

Published April 25, 2023
Published April 25, 2023
La Mer

The Estée Lauder Companies’ most upscale brand, La Mer—home of Miracle Broth, created by physicist Max Huber—has opened what it calls a “first-of-its-kind” flagship store at cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Mall operated by China Duty Free Group (CDFG). Chinese actress Qin Lan drew huge viewership via livestreams during the official opening.

La Mer—whose skincare uses active ingredients connected to the sea—now has a boutique spanning over 2,600 square feet in the biggest duty-free mall in the world. It showcases the brand’s latest design concept, presenting the latest advanced formula for the popular line New Moisturizing Soft Cream.

Senior Vice President at La Mer Travel Retail Worldwide, Patrick Bouchard, described the large unit as a place “where consumers will be taken on a journey to the heart of luxury skincare.” As well as design features that include marble and champagne-gold elements, there is a private VIP lounge and consultation area.

Shoppers can reserve an appointment on the cdf member website, while eligible VIPs get to experience the services at the Spa de La Mer facial cabin—the first in the travel retail channel.

Livestreams on Five Social Platforms

The grand opening was livestreamed across five of CDFG Hainan’s social platforms, with the appearance by Qin Lan drawing 39 million views across Weibo and WeChat, where she talked about her experience with the New Moisturizing Soft Cream. The product’s updated formula features a new delivery system that claims to help build “youthful softness” into the skin and resist signs of aging.

Luxury brands, led by the beauty sector, have flocked into the mall, and it boasts more than 800 international and local labels. Among other big names are Chanel, Clé de Peau Beauté, Dior, Estée Lauder, Lancôme, and YSL.

L’Oréal Group has been very active in the Hainan market with pop-ups and activations for brands including Armani Beauty, Helena Rubinstein, Shu Uemura, YSL Beauté, and Urban Decay. The latest, in partnership with CDFG, was from Lancôme for the world’s first-ever Super Serums O+O activation in the cdf Sanya Haitang Bay mall. The campaign ran through March focusing on the Advanced Génifique and Rénergie H.C.F.  lines to promote the company’s expertise in skin technology.

Downward Sales in 2022

La Mer’s arrival in Haikou with a global flagship boutique is testament to the lure of China’s downtown duty-free business. The beauty category leads sales in the island province of Hainan. However, it hasn’t all been a bed of roses.

While Hainan’s duty-free sales have been on an upwards trajectory since 2012 and boomed when the individual duty-free allowance was tripled to more than $14,500 in mid-2020, last year the business tumbled substantially.

According to the Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development, total duty-free store sales across all categories amounted to 49 billion yuan ($7.2 billion) in 2022, well below the 2021 figure, which exceeded 60 billion yuan (about $ 8.9 billion). The decrease was due to various mainland regional and city lockdowns last year that hit travel to the island.

This year, the provincial authorities are upbeat again and expect sales to reach 80 billion yuan ($11.9 billion), but much depends on Chinese consumer sentiment. Now that Chinese nationals have freedom to cross their country borders again, it is not clear how many rich Chinese will forgo Hainan for Europe and the United States to shop, or even for Greater China destinations such as Hong Kong and Macau.


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