Estée Lauder announces first China fragrance investment

On 16 December, American luxury beauty giant Estée Lauder Companies Inc. announced a strategic investment in the Chinese fragrance brand Melt Season through its early-stage investment and incubation department, New Incubation Ventures (NIV). This marks Estée Lauder Group’s first investment in a fragrance brand in China and the second Chinese beauty brand to receive investment from Estée Lauder Group after Codemint.

NIV shared the news on its official Instagram: “We’re excited to announce our first fragrance investment in China, Melt Season. Estée Lauder has been a leader in luxury fragrances since our first fragrance in 1953. We’re excited Melt Season is now part of building on this rich history as we focus on extending our category leadership in the space by expanding our unrivalled portfolio of differentiated, artisanal fragrance brands.”

The investment will hopefully help counter faltering demand in the Chinese market, which led the conglomerate to slash its 2024 fiscal outlook last month. Estée Lauder attributes this to the slower-than-expected recovery of mainland China’s prestige beauty market and the overall poor performance of travel retail, from which Estée Lauder derives a large proportion of its revenue.

Founded in 2020 by Ni Lishi, Melt Season focuses on creating luxury fragrances rooted in Eastern olfactory notes and has earned a reputation for its commitment to artistry. Before Estée Lauder took a minority stake in the business, it secured 10 million RMB in angel financing from Breeze Capital in 2022, the same year it opened its first flagship store in Shanghai.

Melt Season offers both a classic and haute couture series, with prices ranging from 980-1280 RMB (137-179 USD) per 100ml. The product range also includes scented candles and flameless aromatherapy and the brand has plans to broaden its offerings with home fragrances and personal care items. Melt Season also hopes to establish a stronger brick-and-mortar presence in various Chinese cities, with each store designed to mirror the distinctive architectural style of its local surroundings.


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