ISDIN: A Rising Spanish Star in China’s Sunscreen Market
BY Ye ChenApr 14, 2020
China’s sunscreen market is a fast-growing and fast-changing market. ISDIN, a Spanish brand, took five years to establish itself as one of the top sunscreen brands in China. Its success has been built on a multipronged strategy involving careful selection of sales channels, the layout of a strong product portfolio to meet diversified consumer demand, highlighting of its manufacturing origin, omnichannel marketing, cooperation with Alibaba and early layout in offline channels.

In 2015, Spanish sunscreen brand ISDIN, entered China’s market through Tmall Global (a cross-border e-commerce platform). Five years later, its sales scale is nearly 100 times that of when it first entered China, making it Tmall’s number 1 sunscreen product. [1] In a recent marketing campaign, the online traffic generated by ISDIN was over 700 million, translating to an unprecedented spike in sales and attracting over 100,000 new fans for its social media pages. [2]

China’s sunscreen market

According to Euromonitor Consulting, the market scale of China’s sunscreen product market in 2018 was about 6.7 billion yuan. The market is growing by about 10% YOY. [3]

It is a fast-growing market, especially for imported products. Data from Tmall Global has shown that the YoY increase rate of imported sunscreen products is 93%. Based on this trend, in the next 2 years, Tmall plans to incubate about 20 new overseas sunscreen brands in China with the goal of developing ten new sunscreen brands with sales exceeding 100 million yuan. [2]

Also, new demand has emerged in the market. Consumers are now looking for sunscreen products for:

·         For new scenarios - indoors (to block from fluorescent/led lights)

·         with new functions – skincare

·         In new forms- Sunscreen moose

·         For new consumer groups (pregnant women and babies).


Understanding ISDIN’s Success in China

First, ISDIN has a solid background and a good reputation in Spain, which provides a strong foundation for its expansion in China. ISDIN is the largest and best-performing skincare brand in Spain with a professional R&D team and a diverse range of skincare products. It is part of the same group as Puig and Esteve and therefore has a strong pedigree in the production of high-end cosmetics and professional pharmaceuticals. Consumers trust this brand for its reputation for excellence in medical and technological innovation and superior product quality.

Second, ISDIN found itself a suitable way to enter China, CBEC. In Spain, ISDIN's main sales channels are large pharmacy chains. In these chains, pharmacists provide professional advice for consumers, so there is a trustful relationship between ISDIN, pharmacies, and consumers. At first, the ISDIN headquarters also wanted to use this strategy in China, but after they contacted some drug distributors, they soon found that it was not realistic because most Chinese didn’t purchase skin care products in pharmacies. After investigating the market, ISDIN was directed towards CBEC sales channels in China. In April 2015, ISDIN made a decisive decision to enter China through cross-border e-commerce, and officially entered Tmall Global, becoming one of the earliest Spanish brands to enter China using CBEC.

image003-3.jpgISDIN’s official flagship store on Tmall Global, having 2.11 million fans

Third, this brand used sunscreen products, one of its most technologically advanced and popular products, to gain traction in China’s market. In China, ISDIN began positioning its sunscreen products as anti-aging. The concept was well-received by Chinese consumers, who place a high value on maintaining a youthful appearance. Besides this, the research and development of ISDIN sunscreen products followed the market demand. It has promoted six sunscreen products covering functions from basic sunscreen to anti-blue-light, anti-pollution, anti-aging, and even skincare.

Fourth, ISDIN uses an omnichannel approach for its marketing and retail. It has invited different celebrities to be the brand’s spokesperson and formed a sunscreen celebrity family, including Chinese singer, Imp, Chinese actor, Daxun Wei, Chinese actress, Yihan Sun, the brand’s global CEO, Juan Naya and Spanish synchronized swimming world champion, Ona Carbonll.

image005.jpgISDIN’s sunscreen celebrity family

To promote the newest product, ISDIN also invited Imp to visit Austin Li’s live stream. The latter is the most popular live streamer in China now. This campaign was also advertised on almost all digital media platforms in China, including Weibo, Douyin, Kuaishou, etc. Another strategy adopted by ISDIN is the production of its own IP in the form of internet games. The AR game “Dating with the sun” released by ISDIN was another big hit in China, and was hugely successful in promoting brand recognition amongst younger Chinese consumers.

Offline, ISDIN, and the artists of Shenzhen Graphic Design Association have created a "dating with the sun" theme art carriage on the Shenzhen Metro Line 2, allowing the public to get a feel for six popular tourist sites around the world including Barcelona where ISDIN’s headquarter is located. [2]

image007.jpgISDIN’s advertisement on Shenzhen Metro Line 2

Fifth, the cooperation with Tmall and its parent company, Alibaba, has contributed to ISDIN's success. Starting from 2015, ISDIN has participated in a number of Alibaba's marketing IPs, such as "Tmall Golden Makeup Wonderful Night" and "Gathering Cost-effective Day," helping ISDIN to secure a critical mass of internet traffic early on in its China campaign. Also, Alibaba used its strong data collection and analysis ability to help ISDIN to explore consumers’ real demands and develop new products to align with these demands.

Sixth, although ISDIN started its China campaign focusing on online stores, it was cognizant of the importance of offline channels. Since 2016, ISDIN has begun to expand its offline channel layout. Up to now, ISDIN’s products can be seen in many offline beauty collection stores, including Watsons, Wanning, Kid King, etc. During China’s peak outbreak of COVID-19, ISDIN took action to help its channel merchants, by lowering the minimum order number.

ISDIN took five years to win over Chinese consumers and succeed in China’s market. ISDIN is planning to introduce more products to China in the future. Its success and strategy is an excellent example for all overseas brands who want to enter China’s market.

***Disclaimer: All images used in this article are from the internet.

Ye Chen
ChemLinked Research Analyst
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