Jessica Alba’s clean lifestyle brand The Honest Company has launched in China as part of its international expansion.
The digitally native brand has opened a flagship store on Tmall Global, Alibaba Group’s cross-border e-commerce platform to muscle in on the relatively small but growing demand for clean beauty products.
Based in Los Angeles, Honest will sell skin care and color cosmetics products from the brand’s beauty line, Honest Beauty, to Chinese consumers.
Honest was founded by Alba, the actress and entrepreneur, as a clean lifestyle company.
Alba shared in the company’s IPO filings last year that as a child, she had suffered from chronic illnesses, severe asthma and allergies, leading to “long, lonely weeks in the hospital”.
That experience was how she became aware of how wellness can define your whole life and why she launched Honest in 2012.
The Honest Company has been expanding overseas since 2019, distribution in China is the next step in this journey. The company already has third-party manufacturers located in the world’s second-largest economy.
“Launching in China is a key component of our international strategy,” said Nick Vlahos, Honest’s Chief Executive Officer in a statement.
The company went public last year on Nasdaq and the first few months of this year were tough as shoppers returned to in-store shopping in its product categories. The brand also had to grapple with inflation and supply-chain disruption.
Now, Honest expects to return to growth as it introduces innovative products, expands with new retail partners and improves the digital experience on Honest.com.
At the time of its IPO, Honest flagged that it had an opportunity to leverage Alba’s large following in Asia to tap into one of the largest addressable markets in the world.
Clean beauty is a niche market in China, but has the potential to grow fast. In a 2020 survey conducted by KuRunData among 507 Chinese consumers, 81% of respondents were either very willing or willing to buy clean beauty skincare products
“Chinese consumers are eager to discover and integrate new clean beauty formulations into their daily routines,” said Tony Shan, Alibaba’s head of Tmall Global in the Americas.
Clean beauty products are designed to satisfy consumers’ quest to use makeup containing only pure, healthy ingredients – shunning parabens, sulphates and artificial colors and fragrances.
Chinese consumers are mostly focused on the functionality of products, with clean ingredients as a secondary consideration, but that is starting to change.
“As one of the fastest growing beauty markets in the world, there is an incredibly high demand for clean and highly effective skincare and color innovation,” said Vlahos.
Many international brands have struggled to enter the clean beauty market in China for reasons such as the required animal testing and growing local competition.
The Honest Company is working with distributor SuperOrdinary to on areas such as marketing & commercialization, influencer engagement and, most importantly, navigating the highly regulated Chinese market for the brand, including restrictions and ingredient registrations.
“We are thrilled to partner with The Honest Company to shepherd this next phase of their global brand expansion,” says SuperOrdinary Founder & CEO Julian Reis in a statement.
Shoppers on Tmall Global will be able to choose between a range of stock keeping units, from its Hydrogel Cream, a hyaluronic acid-infused face cream, to its Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer.
“What is hot in Chinese beauty are ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and retinoids that can effectively solve skin problems,” Tmall category operations researcher Dong Sisi said earlier this year to Alizila.
She identified a roughly 40 million user-strong cohort of consumers interested in natural skin and home-care products on Tmall.