Bellabox co-founder Sarah Hamilton says it has been the success of Australian brands in Asia, such as Swisse and Blackmores that persuaded the company to take the plunge; seeing China's market a "challenge" rather than a "hurdle".
The young company, established in 2011 has a database of 40,000 consumers who receive a selection of beauty samples every month for $15.
This deal with Alibaba will see it ship limited edition versions of its beauty boxes over to China within the next month.
“Subscription commerce is sometimes hard to explain to consumers but the Chinese consumer is, I think, super-advanced," Hamilton told SmartCompany.
“We’re going to showcase that to a huge market and that is a huge point of difference. “There’s so much to learn [with China], but that’s not a bad thing. It’s good that a market is different. I don’t see it as a hurdle – I see it as a challenge.”
Sampling service brands challenged despite demand
In 2013, Cosmetics Design was reporting beauty boxes to be gaining momentum in Asia, particularly in the Southeast and Korea. However by 2014, analysts were questioning whether the market was over saturated with ‘all too easy to replicate’ subscription services.
By the second half of the year, a number of these sampling companies in Southeast Asia had already shrunk from 51 to less than 20.
“The problem is limited availability of beauty samples. The demand is there, but the supply is not. Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that the marketing budgets of cosmetics companies in Asia aren’t that great,” Douglas Gan, CEO of Singapore-based beauty box business 'VanityTrove' told regional publication ‘Tech In Asia’.
Despite the news that the segment may be over before it really got a chance to take off, other brands like Little Black Beauty Box, Glamabox, Black Box Malaysia – Modbox, CosmoBox, The Lilac Box, Mivva Box are continuing to plow ahead in Asia.