As the pre-sale period for China’s second biggest annual shopping festival wraps up, sales for beauty brands so far are showing surprising results.
For the first time, French cosmetics brand NARS has come out on top of this year’s 618 pre-sales on Tmall, having only made the top 10 for the first time during last year’s 618. NARS’ presales hit 14 million RMB (1.9 million USD), with MAC, Yves Saint Laurent also making the top 5 alongside MAKE UP FOREVER and Clé de Peau. NARS’s famous ‘orgasm’ lipstick shade was popular, with the product reportedly selling out on the first day of Li Jiaqi’s 618 pre-sale livestream.
More surprising was the fact that homegrown favourite Florasis did not make the top 10 for the first time since 2019’s Double 11 festival. In fact, only one Chinese brand, Caitang, made the list, marking the first time this lesser-known Chinese brand did so. Whilst it is not unusual for French beauty brands to feature heavily in 618 pre-sales, Florasis almost always makes the top 5 and usually more than one Chinese brand can be found in the top 10.
NARS entered the Chinese market in 2017 (the same year Florasis was established), which caused controversy among consumers since it meant the brand would have to submit to the Chinese authorities’ animal testing requirements. Since then, NARS has increased its visibility by being active across Douyin, Xiaohongshu, and Weibo and has partnered with a number of Chinese brand ambassadors including actress Zhou Xun and model Liu Wen.
Both NARS and Florasis have made sure to secure collaborations with livestreamer “Lipstick King” Li Jiaqi, who is back in full force this year after a 6-month hiatus following last year’s 618. His temporary cancellation by the Chinese government points to the importance of not over-relying on massive influencers like Li.
Brands like NARS and Florasis, which are trendy for the time being, may be able to cultivate reputations over the long term by expanding their digital strategies to include Key Opinion Consumers well as a greater variety of KOLs.