September 21, 2023
BEIJING – Old Chinese personal care and home care brands that had lost popularity due to a lack of smart marketing strategies, including online promotion campaigns, have made a strong comeback following a recent livestreaming row.
On Sept 9, China’s top online product influencer Li Jiaqi kicked off a controversy when he defended on Taobao Live — Alibaba Group’s livestreaming platform — a Chinese cosmetics brand that sells an eyebrow pen and two refills for 79 yuan ($10.8), and questioned if his followers worked hard enough to earn more.
Li’s remarks, which came after a user said that products of the brand were too expensive, sparked outrage among netizens who said the influencer had no right to question people’s work choices and judge them.
The controversy quickly became a blessing for many old Chinese enterprises, such as hair care brand Bee & Flower and home care brand Super 28, who seized the opportunity to show they could deliver value-for-money products.
Bee & Flower, which was founded in 1985 and was once a household name in China, launched a 79-yuan promotion offer to grab attention. The combo set comprised two large bottles of shampoo and one large bottle of conditioner.
Feigua, a livestreaming sales data provider, said the number of followers on Bee & Flower’s account on Chinese short-video platform Douyin, started to soar on Sept 11. By Friday, the brand had attracted 559,000 followers and the sales generated during one livestreaming session last week exceeded 25 million yuan.
Super 28, which was founded in 1950, featured three factory employees in a Douyin livestreaming session on Sept 13. The trio, unaccustomed to being in the spotlight, got some useful hints from viewers on how to list products during a livestreaming session on the first day.
The trio’s sincerity and the quality of the products helped the brand’s Douyin account attract more than 1.61 million followers on the second day, with all available stock selling out that day.
Many netizens said they were surprised to see that some brands that were popular during their childhood days still existed. Shanghai Yaozao, founded in 1959, still sells sulfur soaps; Yumeijing, founded in 1958, continues to specialize in skin care products for children; and Garden, founded in 1926, produces high-quality baked products including cookies and breads.
Besides promoting their own products, many old brands also chose to introduce other Chinese brands during their livestreaming sessions.
Some brands gained more respect after followers learned that the parent companies had donated money and goods to help China win the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) and to carry out disaster relief work after natural disasters.
Many brands, including Bee &Flower and Super 28, did not livestream on Monday, which was the 92nd anniversary of the Sept 18 Incident that marked the start of Japan’s invasion of China, and instead asked followers to remember history and cherish peace.
Liu Xing, from Beijing, said she bought personal care products from old Chinese brands after learning about their quality ingredients and the brands’ history last week.
“The packaging of these products may not be as fancy as those of big brands, and the companies may not be able to afford to launch expensive marketing campaigns, but the quality of the products and their prices surprised me. I wish I’d known about these old Chinese brands earlier,” Liu said.