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La Perla launched its “Couture” fragrance collection – eight fragrances at $ 350 each with scents ranging from rose to freesia. Body care and makeup products will follow later this year.
The Italian luxury lingerie brand plans to boost its e-commerce and open 30 stores in major Chinese cities by 2023.
According to iiMedia Research Group, 42.8% of local underwear consumers switched to affordable national brands, while 30.6% preferred to buy high-end local brands. Consumers of high-end lingerie brands abroad accounted for only 4.1%.
Often nicknamed the Hermès of lingerie, La Perla is now launching an in-house collection of “couture” fragrances. It offers eight scents valued at $ 350 with scents ranging from rose to fruity tangerine. Body care and makeup products will follow later this year.
In 2020, the underwear brand ended a previous perfume and beauty license agreement with Revlon to vertically integrate the beauty activity by inaugurating its beauty subsidiary: La Perla Beauty. But while the lingerie business is booming, why is the Italian leader taking this initiative alone?
“The market is looking for something new and innovative,” said Peter Shaefer, CEO of La Perla Beauty. “In addition, it reflects a major shift within the parent brand itself, as it becomes more contemporary and [reaches] to a larger audience. Indeed, these well-being and beauty categories now offer access to a much larger target, which it can directly control.
The pandemic forced brands to rethink their strategies, and before it even hit, La Perla was in trouble. In 2018, it recorded $ 110 million in losses and continued to decline. 2020 saw a 22.8% drop in brand revenue, from $ 103 million to $ 80 million.
Despite these losses, La Perla has seen a silver lining in China. It plans to open 30 stores in key cities by 2023 and develop its e-commerce there. Will the addition of a beauty line boost the growth of the Italian lingerie brand in China? Here, Daily Jing examines the domestic market landscape and consumer trends to find the answer.
How easy is it to grow in the beauty industry?
Why the beauty? The answer is simple. The global cosmetics market is expected to generate $ 475.8 billion between 2020 and 2027, a significant jump from $ 375.5 in 2019. And China currently accounts for a fifth of those total sales in the market. So many brands are eyeing this lucrative sector, from luxury house Valentino to fast-fashion retailer Zara, both of which have launched beauty lines this year.
An expansion in beauty is an obvious path, as it complements the main lines and amplifies a lifestyle around a name, allowing fans to enjoy the brand’s identity across more product categories. The labels must therefore reflect their DNA and their positioning within these new beauty collections.
And although the Chinese beauty industry has experienced tremendous growth and is expected to continue to grow over the next five years, “Western brands may face stiff competition from local cosmetics brands and J- brands. beauty or K-beauty, ”says Amber Wu, strategist VERBE agency.
In fact, Chinese or Asian beauty brands are better suited to local needs, adapt more quickly to changes in consumption, and generally offer better prices. Wu says that if La Perla is to enter the industry, it must consider its “unique selling proposition in the market”.
In the case of La Perla, the high artisanal quality of the perfume bottles, the seductive name of the perfumes and the prices harmonize perfectly with the feminine and sexual image of the luxury lingerie brand. But will the move work? Although the brand is authentic, without a strong point of differentiation, it might find it difficult to stand out.
Additionally, significant marketing spending will be required to gain market share if new consumers are its target. Since without a differentiator it will not be easy to grow from high-end underwear.
Will Beauty Help La Perla Unlock Gen Z Consumers?
Cosmetics offer young consumers an ideal entry price to learn about a brand and hopefully become bigger buyers in the future. However, that may not be the case with La Perla, which, with a line of haute couture fragrances priced at $ 350 for a 120ml bottle, is barely within the Gen Z average budget.
Although the fragrance reflects its luxury positioning, other competitors are offering better deals. Hermès’ Twilly perfume is only a third the price of La Perla ($ 125 for 85ml), suggesting that the brand may be struggling to reach its desired wider audience.
But price isn’t the Italian lingerie brand’s only obstacle to young Chinese consumers. The fragrance names – About That Night and Just Give Me Roses – reflect a mature, sultry woman, generating less enthusiasm among Gen Zers who prefer brands that reflect their philosophy of inclusiveness and sustainability.
In China, young women are primarily looking for products that appeal to them. National player Neiwai wins with body positivity campaigns. As such, even the traditionally sexist brand Victoria’s Secret has revamped its image by appointing inclusive and diverse ambassadors, including plus size icon Yang Tian Zhen.
If La Perla is to attract Generation Z to China and the world, the cosmetics line must be a springboard for experimenting with new strategies, including innovative and inclusive marketing tactics that resonate with younger consumers. This could, for example, take the form of product placements in a popular TV series that portrayed empowered women, as brands did on the popular Chinese show “Nothing but Thirty (三十而立)”.
Strategies lingerie brands should consider in the Chinese market
The Chinese underwear market is booming. The iiMedia Research Group reported that this sector is valued at $ 61 billion in 2020 and is expected to accelerate, offering global lingerie players a great opportunity. Yet the same report found that 42.8% of local underwear consumers had switched to affordable national brands while 30.6% of consumers preferred to buy high-end local brands. Consumers of high-end lingerie brands abroad accounted for only 4.1% of all buyers.
It means that La Perla’s underwear market share in China is limited which is why they want to get into beauty. Until shoppers get more sophisticated, businesses need to understand that local consumers prefer national brands designed for Asian women, especially when it comes to size. Wu explains, stating, “In China, there is a growing trend for comfort and simplicity. The aforementioned iiMedia study found that 76.6% of consumers in China preferred wireless bras. There, “comfort” takes precedence over “sexy” for most underwear buyers.
Given this, La Perla should double down on its work lingerie strategy for China rather than expect a beauty hub to solve its problems. This move could include promoting content focused on the premium quality of the brand’s fabric and the comfort of its room. In addition, if it wants to seduce young Chinese consumers through its beauty line, its price positioning and its identity could suffer. To win the Chinese pockets of Generation Z, Italian society will need to integrate local values and leverage Chinese trends to gain favor.
E-commerce is also a key driver for the lingerie sector. Data from Tmall and JD.com reveals that nearly 73.5% of Chinese online shoppers are between the ages of 20 and 39. Therefore, if companies like La Perla want to create an omnichannel experience, offering more online touchpoints – from Tmall to the WeChat Mini Program – will help them exponentially.
Regardless of the product, to attract a younger demographic, Wu suggests that brands should “collaborate with the right KOLs on Little Red Book and other relevant social media” and “explore co-branding opportunities, for example, with relevant artists or brands “. Some tactics include: using Gen Z favored KOLs, awarding product placements in C and K dramas, and creating engaging localized content or unique experiences.
But to stay relevant in the market, global brands need to scale their products globally, whether it’s beauty or lingerie. In addition, companies can meet the needs of Chinese consumers with careful use of color and design.