Most international beauty brands regularly roll out a new product or two specifically for Asian countries. Estée Lauder, however, is taking this a huge step further by adding an entirely new China-specific skincare brand called Osiao (pronounced O-Shao) that will debut in Hong Kong next month. Positioned as a luxury brand, with facial serums that cost US$211, it promises to “help renew skin’s youthful radiance”.
Everything about this brand is focused on the Chinese consumer, right from the name to the ingredients. ‘Osiao’ has five letters, which is a lucky number in China, while the “O” on either end is meant to reflect balance. And although the executives did not know it when they chose the name, Osiao is also a village in the Philippines.
The products will contain Chinese medicinal plants such as ginseng, Asiatic Pennywort herb and Ganoderma (a type of mushroom). Even the new in-store counters evoke traditional apothecaries, complete with timber drawers and cabinets. And that’s not all: skin care advisers will take customers through a questionnaire and evaluation process that echoes the diagnostic techniques used by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, before suggesting regimens customised for their skin type.
Developed in Shanghai and manufactured in Japan, Osiao products have been extensively tested on women in China, as well as Korea and Japan. But in secret: in fact, to keep the brand strictly under wraps, employees say that they would shred documents every night before leaving the office.
However, whether these Oriental touches will truly appeal to beauty consumers in China remains to be seen. On the other hand, while development may have been focused on China, distribution of the brand won’t necessarily be limited: If Osiao succeeds, Estée Lauder says the company may offer it in other markets as well.
What’s your view? Would you rather buy a global product line or one that’s specifically created and sold for your ethnic market?