Pretty different: Urban Decay enters travel retail channel in China amid animal testing changes

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Urban Decay is now available at Hainan Tourism Downtown Duty Free Shopping Complex and Global Premium Duty Free (GDF) Plaza, in collaboration with Lagardère Travel Retail China and Dufry. ©Urban Decay
Urban Decay is now available at Hainan Tourism Downtown Duty Free Shopping Complex and Global Premium Duty Free (GDF) Plaza, in collaboration with Lagardère Travel Retail China and Dufry. ©Urban Decay

Related tags: Urban decay, China, Eye, Animal testing

L’Oréal brand Urban Decay has made its first mark in China’s travel retail channel, following previous launches on Tmall and in Sephora outlets, after being buoyed by changes to the animal testing regime.

The California-based make-up brand first opened a Tmall flagship store in 2020, before expanding into Sephora offline outlets in 2021.

Most recently, it launched signature products - Naked and Cyber Eyeshadow Palettes, All Nighter Setting Spray and Vice lipsticks range via travel retail.

These products are available at the Hainan Tourism Downtown Duty Free Shopping Complex and Global Premium Duty Free Plaza, in collaboration with Lagardère Travel Retail China and Dufry.

There are now more than 190 SKUs in China.

Kelly Wang, Urban Decay’s marketing head in China, said: “These days, Chinese young consumers are looking to define their lifestyle by themselves. They look for fun, real and the unexpected from brands and we think our products can provide diversified opportunities for them to define their own beauty.​”

Urban Decay’s brand slogan is ‘Pretty different beauty’, and we think ‘Pretty’ is different for everyone. Our indie brand image of edgy, young, and fun attract Gen-Zs who want to define their own pretty different beauty. They can recreate and reinvent who they are and how they look whenever and however they want​.”

In the future, we will sharpen our eye makeup to provide more high-quality products to China consumers​.”

Animal testing

The launch in travel retail channel adds to Urban Decay’s plans to expand into the offline channels in China.

Urban Decay retails in some Sephora stores in tier one and two cities, as well as has seasonal pop-up store to create brand excitement and integrate online-to-offline (O+O) experience.

In 2012, Urban Decay tried to launch in China but eventually backed out​ after conflicting animal testing policy amid discussions with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Back then, China’s policy allowed the government to conduct animal testing for cosmetic products before they are approved for use in the country.

However, Urban Decay claims to be 100% cruelty free and does not test finished products on animals, or allow others to test on its behalf.

Last year in 2021, China exempted mandatory animal testing on imported general cosmetics such as lipstick, make-up, shampoo by using other approved alternative methods​. However, cosmetics for children and those containing new cosmetic ingredients during the first three years of monitoring still require animal testing.

Urban Decay was able to sell in China prior to 2021 through cross-border e-commerce platforms like Tmall Global where brands were able to sell direct to consumers and bypass the mandatory animal testing requirement.

We are very willing to provide more exciting products to China consumers and expand more channels so they can buy our products to define beauty on their terms and craft their own destiny through self-expression​,” Wang said.

Across travel retail in Asia-Pacific, the brand is also available in South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.

Distribution strategy

In China, the distribution strategy is still largely focused on growing Urban Decay’s online presence.

Digital had undergone an explosive growth in China, so we focus on social media platform and collaborate with KOLs to create and maintain buzz and brand hotness to stimulate young consumer’s interest​,” Wang added.

Now we can see many active brands have deep involvement in livestreaming marketing, we are also open to any new marketing format to communicate with our young consumers​.

Since eye make-up need more tutorial and demonstration, I think we are quite suitable for livestreaming environment. Especially since we are more focus on online sales, so consumers need more guidance or support from live streamers​.”

In the past year, the brand named popular Hong Kong singer G.E.M. as its global spokesperson, set livestreaming room at outdoor popup store and will look to deeper communication with consumers this year.

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