An interview with Ms. Grace Wu, Co-founder of Venus Concept China
Technology is now playing an extremely important role in people’s daily lives more than ever before. Likewise, the beauty industry is also seeing an irresistible trend – the emergence and rapid expansion of hi-tech medical beauty equipment. Nowadays, spas and salons can no longer make guests stay merely with traditional massages and tranquil ambiance. Beauty equipment with quick and obvious results on the skin and body have won a lot of fans. Though there is still room for improvement regarding the equipment’s professionalism, safety and comfort, their market potential cannot be denied.
In 2014, the top Israeli medical beauty brand Venus Concept entered China and soon became an industry authority with its hi-tech patents and non-invasive treatments. A key person that drove this entry and Venus Concept’s subsequent successful development in China is a beautiful young lady. She is Grace Wu, the co-founder of Venus Concept China.
Fond of challenges and new ideas, Grace began to be involved in the Asia-Pacific business scene in 1997. She has over 15 years’ marketing experience in China’s fashion and beauty industry, and is very good at integrating international resources. Since 2013, Grace has fully focused on the development of the health industry. However, two years ago, she retired from the front line. Her new goal in this stage of her life is to offer advice and support to young career beginners and those who want to start their own business. She not only shares her precious experiences but also gives encouragement and passes positive energy to them. SpaChina interviewed Grace to gain more insights into China’s medical beauty industry.
Why did you want to introduce a global medical beauty brand to China? What challenges have you met in operations, marketing and sales and how have you solved the problems?
The reason is quite simple. I was lucky to meet an ideal partner and was attracted by their proven technology and operation mode. So very quickly, I introduced the brand to China.
When a new brand enters a comparatively mature market, it means it falls behind other brands for over 10 years and no one knows about it. This is the biggest challenge for most brands which enter a new market. Venus Concept, however, had was already globally recognized by the time I brought it to China, and had become the most popular non-invasive choice in the U.S. According to my experience and observation, Venus Concept is able to deliver safe, comfortable and effective treatments to customers with its cutting-edge technology. Also, Venus Concept uses an installment financial model. The reasonable price of the equipment accessories and simple maintenance make Venus Concept equipment a steady source of profit for clients.
After the brand was introduced to China, the first task for us was to understand the market and build trust – the stage we call “new birth”. So from one aspect, we participated in exhibitions to hear the voices of our potential clients. Meanwhile, we actively communicated with KOLs. We also re-assessed our proper market positioning.
Then we came to the second stage, the sales. Our goal in this stage was to build brand awareness. We decided to center on basic skincare with key words like “fashion” and “lifestyle” because we felt this was the easiest way to penetrate the market and be accepted by customers. So we adjusted our marketing strategies and reset our team structures. In B2B business, we designed detailed treatments and did full efficiency analysis. In B2C, we attended many events related to fashion and lifestyle to promote our vision of healthy beauty.
Now, Venus Concept has entered the third stage, development. We have set up the professional manager system, introduced innovations on marketing modes every year, and kept importing new technology. Apart from this, we have also set clearer game rules and service standards regarding distribution channels, bulk purchases and direct selling.
Nevertheless, we still encounter various new challenges in spite of all our efforts. Now five years after foundation, Venus Concept China’s market share ranks top 3 in the Venus Concept Group. I think the biggest challenge we face today is to fix the correct strategy and execute it effectively. Only that way can we enter another stable phase. Currently, Venus Concept receives professional instructions from our overseas headquarters.
Who are your clients? How do you carry out effective training on equipment usage?
Venus Concept targets the professional line. In China, we divide our clients into two categories, medical clients and non-medical clients. The latter category, which is more than 70% of business, includes salons, spas and 5-star hotels.
The biggest difficulties in training are ineffective communication, high staff turnover and clients’ over dependence on suppliers. To solve these problems, we have designed a 6-step training program which covers all aspects from regular training to advanced training, from incentive systems to communication platforms. Also, we check whether clients perform correct manipulation with regular visits.
What is the acceptance level of China’s customers for medical beauty equipment? How big is the demand in the market? What is the development potential of the medical beauty industry in China?
According to the data issued by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in 2017, excluding China, the global medical beauty industry showed negative growth. However, China’s medical industry experienced an over 20% increase in 2018, with a market scale of RMB 224.5 billion. Yet the take-up per capita is only 2%. So personally, I think there is still great demand potential from the market. Not only will the industry extend to 3rd and 4th tier cities, but also consumer demand and acceptance of medical beauty equipment will also greatly expand.
China’s medical beauty industry will keep double digit annual increase in the next 3 to 5 years. The major problem now is high homogeneity of the brands. So the market will move toward further segmentation and professionalization, as well as concept output.
What types of medical beauty equipment are currently most popular in China and what are the reasons?
Medical beauty equipment is categorized into invasive and non-invasive. In both categories, facial treatment is now the most popular in China, due to its mature development and high popularizing rate. However, in the global market, the consumption tendency has turned to body treatments. Meanwhile, the number of male consumers continues to rise. Equipment that targets fat loss is on the increase. It is predicted that China will soon catch up with these global trends.
What does China’s beauty industry lack at present? What changes do you think may take place in the industry in the next five years?
There are three major problems in the industry currently:
- Lack of standardization
- Lack of professionalism
So I think the industry will experience big changes in the following five years:
- More accurate market segmentation: doing what you are good at will become a trend. Technology is a key element to realize standardization.
- More professional. To carry out more professional training is both an industry trend and a way to improve personal skills.
- Sensible consumption. As information transparency increases, consumption will become more reasonable.
What kinds of products and services do future customers need? How can we meet their requirements?
As I mentioned, the industry will become more segmented and professionalized. Consumers will have increasingly higher requirements from the service providers. The spa and salon owners then will put their hopes on suppliers. And from the perspective of suppliers, single product categories cannot meet market demand for one-stop solutions. Therefore, it is important to form strategic alliances with other brands to complete the service scope, as well as to carry out efficient training and create innovative brand concepts.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current beauty industry in China?
China’s modern beauty industry has so far enjoyed 20 years of development. The good aspects include more sensible consumption and increasingly mature markets. The weaknesses are a lack of standards and a lack of respect for basic staff.
You have given many public lectures in the past two years. Why do you do that? What is your purpose in doing these speeches? What is the main content of the speeches?
I am very grateful that 25 years’ of working experience has connected me to so many international resources. I believe good partners and a good working team will provide great support to one’s career path. I always hope to share my resources with the new generation and help them grow better. In my work, I pay great attention to the skills improvement of my fellow team members.
The courage and experience one needs to start a business and connect with international resources will not be offered by any school. Neither will the competitive business world have the patience to wait for you. So in 2017, I moved away from the frontline and began to give lectures on young people’s career planning and business startups. During the past two years, the lectures I have given were mainly organized by non-profit organizations. Many of their staff are volunteers. Through my speeches, I aim to inspire courage and confidence in the listeners, as well as share with them important working skills, self-improvement methods and industry information.
Who are the targets of the lectures? What is their response? What kind of things are they looking for from your speech? What can they learn?
The lectures I attend target young people who are just beginning their jobs and those who want to start a business. Sometimes, I also give female-only lectures.
To the new generation, one of the biggest obstacles comes from their families. They want to do something different, but their parents are reluctant. To those who want to start their own business, the biggest problem is how to keep their original vision and confidence in such a competitive business world. To females, they are often concerned about how to achieve a balance between different roles. Besides that, they also share with me their joys and successes.
So in fact I play several different roles in the process. Sometimes I am a listener, sometimes I share my experience, or give them encouragement, and other times I give them as much support as I can. Most importantly, we enjoy this way of passing positive energy to each other.
Personally, how do you keep a sound physical and mental state?
I am an advocate of healthy beauty. So over the years, I keep doing exercises and eating healthily. I also depend on safe equipment and quality products to help me. Besides that, reading, traveling and giving public-beneficial lectures are always the source of my mental satisfaction.