First steps: Aussie brand hopeful cruelty-free entry into China will lead to more opportunities

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Subtle Energies expands in China through Leaping Bunny programme. ©Subtle Energies
Subtle Energies expands in China through Leaping Bunny programme. ©Subtle Energies

Related tags Animal testing China Australia

Australian natural beauty brand Subtle Energies is optimistic that with changing regulations it will be able to expand its business and tap into the emerging trends in China.

The brand took its first steps into the Chinese market with the help of Cruelty-Free International and its pilot scheme that allows Leaping Bunny-certified brands to import its products into China.

The Leaping Bunny Program is a cruelty-free certification for personal care and household items that signifies that the brand does not engage in animal testing.

“Cruelty Free International and their regulatory partners Knudsen CRC have provided a pathway for us to offer our family’s work in luxury natural skincare and wellness to China, with the crucial assurance that we are not exposed to animal testing either before or after we hit the market,”​ said Nick Irani, director of operations and brand development.

Its expansion into China marked the successful shift of Cruelty Free International’s Shanghai-based Leaping Bunny pilot project to an all-China route to market for certified brands.

Under this scheme, brands must comply with current cosmetic regulations in China, such as manufacturing in approved local facilities and using ingredients that are already approved by China’s regulators.

Additionally, brand cannot include any special-use cosmetics, such as sun care products, in their offerings.

Subtle Energies is currently available exclusively at The Peninsula Hotel’s Peninsula Spa in Beijing and is the establishment’s supplier of choice.

Irani told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that the company believed there was a growing appetite for high-quality cruelty-free brands and that it was a ‘good time’ for a smaller niche brand in the local beauty market.

“We are coming to realise that our business in China will develop with its own business model and our methodology and approach need to be aligned with the demographic.Our experience is still limited as the brand is still in its infancy [in China] but there is an appreciation for the authenticity behind the work we do.”

He elaborated that Chinese consumers are beginning to be less brand-focused on ‘mega brands’ in cosmetics.

“We can see that there is a Chinese consumer emerging that is looking beyond that and at whether it’s a good natural product, something wellness-related, or not tested on animals. So, we feel that this is a good time for a brand like ours to enter.”

Additionally, the brand hopes to tap into the trend of natural beauty products that complement their personal well-being motivations.

“People are looking for good natural products and I think this is something we can deliver along with our background in wellness,” ​said Irani.

A cruelty-free future in China?

Like many cosmetic companies, Subtle Energies is eagerly anticipating the implementation of the Cosmetics Supervision and Administration Regulation (CSAR). The CSAR is due to come into effect on January 1, 2021.

The new rules have signalled that China is taking steps to remove the mandatory animal testing requirements for imported cosmetics.

Until then, Leaping Bunny-certified brands are unable to export into mainland China.

“We all hope that the end result is that mandatory animal testing requirements on imported finished products will also soon be ended. That’s why the pilot project was important for us to be part of which then works towards this goal,”​ said Irani.

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