According to Euromonitor, the Chinese sunscreen market size was 16.7 billion yuan in 2021 and will reach 20 billion yuan in 2022.1 The recent burning hot weather further boosted sunscreen products’ expansion, implying that it is a large and fast-growing market to explore. However, a large market also means strong competitors. The truth is that many brands from international beauty giants have dominated the market, such as ANESSA, Lancome, L’Oreal, Shiseido, etc. However, surprisingly, Mistine, a brand from Thailand breaks the dominance of these big brands and even became one of the top 2 brands in the sunscreen sector.
Founded in 1988, Mistine entered China in 2014, and reached one billion yuan sales after two years.2 It remained at rapid growth rates in the following years. In 2022H1, its YoY growth rate reached 44%, even though the whole Chinese beauty industry was in a murky time. According to the latest data, its online market share also rose from 2.2% to 6.6%, ranking the second, outperforming many other big brands, such as Lancôme and Shiseido.3
Although the investment in Chinese beauty industry cooled down in 2022, Mistine still completed its A round of financing in March 2022, securing over 200 million yuan, implying investors’ great confidence in this overseas brand.
Mistine’s Road to Success
An experienced domestic team
Mistine has an experienced Chinese domestic team to operate its business in China. This team redesigned the whole brand to make it fit the Chinese market while leveraging Thailand’s gene as a selling point. The head of its Chinese business has over-20-year experience in the Chinese beauty industry and knows well about what Chinese people demand in terms of beauty products. Other team members are from big beauty companies and Internet companies, such as L’Oreal, Proya, Alibaba, etc., meaning that they have experience or insights in operating a beauty brand in China, especially in the e-commerce and social era.
Playing the comparative advantages to develop ace products
In the early stage of entering China, Mistine’s Chinese team conducted thorough market research about Chinese consumers and the latest market trends, and then combined the brand’s characteristics and competitive advantages to develop several products, which turned out to be popular. The popularity of these ace products soon brought explosive traffic for the whole brand.
In 2018, Mistine gained its first exposure among young consumers because of its Strawberry Color Changing Lip Balm and Leather Pressed Powder.
Mistine products: Strawberry Color Changing Lip Balm and Leather Pressed Powder
Later, it further impressed more consumers through sunscreen products. As many Chinese know, Thailand is a tropical country with an annual average temperature of 35℃. Therefore, Thais have a high requirement for sunscreen products, such as a higher SPF, a longer sunscreen duration, waterproof, sweat-proof, etc. Naturally, the Chinese trust sunscreen products from Thailand as they think that the products people living in tropical areas use must have a powerful sunscreening efficacy. Besides marketing its products from tropical regions, Mistine also redesigned its products for Chinese consumers’ specific demands. In 2020, Mistine upgraded its ace sunscreen products by adding a skincare function for Chinese female consumers. Based on the above strengths and innovation, Mistine’s products stood out from other strong competitors. Chinese consumers even give nicknames for its ace products, Little Yellow Hat (小黄帽) and Little Blue Hat (小蓝帽), an honor only awarded to those well-known bestsellers (e.g. Lancôme Little Black Bottle 兰蔻小黑瓶, Estee Lauder Little Brown Bottle, 雅诗兰黛小棕瓶). The popularity of these catchy nicknames further deepens customers’ impression of this brand.
Also, this brand has a competitive advantage in prices. Its products are generally priced below RMB 100/unit, while most imported sunscreen products are priced over 100 yuan and even 200 yuan. The high-cost performance makes Mistine extremely popular among students and consumers who prefer affordable products.
Mistine’s sunscreen products
Strong supply chain and distribution system
Mistine also has a strong supply chain. Its parent company, BETTER WAY group, owns a factory that produces beauty products for well-known companies such as Shiseido and Watsons. With more than 40 years of history, this factory also has the technology to process unique Thailand plant ingredients. Backed up by BETTER WAY, Mistine can take full advantage of the Sino-Thai supply chain to ensure product quality and iteration efficiency.
Besides, Mistine adopted an omni-channel distribution strategy. Besides Tmall and JD, two mainstream e-commerce platforms, Mistine also covers other niche EC channels, such as VIP.com, Little Red Book, etc. These channels also bring good sales for Mistine. According to VIP.com, Mistine was the bestseller in the sunscreen category, with an over 400% YoY growth rate in March 2022.4 In the meantime, Mistine entered about 500 offline stores, covering high-end cosmetics stores and affordable cosmetics stores in lower-tier cities. As an affordable brand, this omni-channel distribution strategy allows Mistine to access as more consumers as possible and improve its exposure and sales.
After eight-year operation, Thailand’s beauty brand Mistine successfully stands out from other high-end brands and even builds a good reputation for all Thailand beauty brands in China. As many people may know, Chinese consumers have natural confidence in beauty brands from big companies and developed countries, but Mistine has set an excellent example for other beauty brands from emerging countries.