China’s ‘Silicon Valley’ of beauty sets the stage for C-beauty expansion

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

China’s ‘Silicon Valley’ of beauty sets the stage for C-beauty expansion
Beautéville is striving to raise the bar for China’s cosmetics industry as it gears up to become a beauty mecca and premium tourist destination.

Initiated in 2015, China Beautéville was an initiative conceptualised by the private cosmetics sector and the local Huzhou authorities with a directive to help foreign counties enter China.

Located in Huzhou City, Zhejiang province, China Beautéville is only a couple of hours away from Shanghai and consists of a complete supply chain platform from raw materials to production to sales.

One-stop shop

As Beautéville is aware of the complication that come with expanding into China, it has positioned itself as an all-in-one service provider foreign companies can depend on to cut through the forest of red tape.

As an ally, Beautéville is able to help companies accelerate approval processes while reducing costs, thanks to its close ties to the local government. Its distribution union can help brands identity the most suitable channels and distributors easily and efficiently.

Kris Fang, head of Europe for Beautéville reveals that Beautéville is now looking to represent some brands as an exclusive distributor. Unlike some agencies which charge foreign brands to represent them, Fang said that Beautéville’s service is free and brands would only have to settle a few mandatory fees.

Beautéville is also home to a cosmetics school, a forward-looking plan which aims to train and supply talent to companies hoping to set up shop in Beautéville. “The idea is to provide the talent directly for companies settling down here. The project has already. As we don’t have this kind of school in China, we are working with the French for the content,”​ said Fang.

From Hub to City

Beautéville is not the only beauty ecosystem in town. A stone’s throw away in Shanghai is Oriental Beauty Valley. In order to compete with them, Beautéville is taking an interesting turn and developing its tourism industry.

Today, a hotel by Lampe Berger stands alongside the industrial facilities and will be joined by a dedicated cosmetics museum next month, topped off with a shopping centre and a botanical gardens that can supply raw materials to manufacturers.

The focus on building a cultural experience is imperative for Beautéville. This industrial tourism plan would create jobs for the locals in the area, and promote the tourism in the region as well.

The realisation of this vision, Fang credits in part to the Chinese government. “In China the government is not like western countries, which only acting as a consultant. Our Chinese government is a realiser, they have money and resources to make things happen.”

Tourism is not the only ambitious plan taking shape in Beautéville. Currently, Beautéville has a modest population of 100,000 who live on-site. Fang revealed that there are plans to develop the area into a liveable “city” to entice more people, especially the staff of companies with operations in Beautéville, to live in the area.

“I imagine that Beautéville will become a real city within a city. I think five years later we will have cinemas, restaurant, café and even a nightclub,” ​said Fang.

China: Next beauty superpower?

While Fang would love to see China rise as the next beauty capital of the world, he admitted that realistically, China still has a ways to go.

“In terms of hardware, China’s machine and production technology is more advanced than Europe. But in terms of branding, brand awareness, customer experience, R&D and innovation… China still has long way to go before it becomes a beauty power.”

However, he is optimistic that the dream will become a reality in good time, especially with Beautéville as a platform. “The second directive of Beautéville is to help local businesses to expand broad. We did it for Proya with our strong relations in with an R&D centre in France. Just like what Shiseido did all those years ago.”

Still, the obstacle for a Chinese brand is steep. Currently, only one Chinese brand, Herborist, has found success in the foreign market. “If a Chinese brand want to promote its own Chinese brand, it’s not easy at all,” ​said Fang. “Instead, it is better to work with an R&D centre or acquire a foreign brand.”

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