An interview with Ms. Yvonne Cheung, Founder of YUSUMTONG
Yvonne Cheung founded YUSUMTONG in 2018 after 15 years of being a consultant and a supplier to the luxury spa industry. Her experience and observations resulted in her belief that one should make wellness a part of the daily routine to achieve true wellbeing.
YUSUMTONG targets urban citizens who are too busy to take care of themselves. Integrating Chinese and Western culture, traditional and modern wisdom, it provides natural, easy-to-use and traveller-friendly products that aim to improve marginal health, prevent chronic diseases and delay ageing. Yvonne earned her first degree in Psychology from Simon Fraser University and a Master degree in Marketing from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. SpaChina interviewed her.
Nearly two years have passed after you founded YUSUMTONG. Though being a young brand, it has been praised widely by the consumers. Can you share with us the achievements of YUSUMTONG during the past 2 years?
Our first product, Rosa Rugosa, was launched in September 2018. So far we have launched more than 40 SKU. By the first quarter of this year, our total GMV was about 150 million.
What do you think are the reasons for the success of YUSUMTONG? Please explain the terms of product positioning, pricing and marketing strategy.
YUSUMTONG aims to meet the health needs of the urban white-collar woman. We integrate Eastern and Western cultures and traditional and modern health concepts. We take the medicinal essence and make them part of daily diet. We have developed a range of products that address most of the sub health conditions people face today, including poor sleep quality, menstrual pain, improper respiration, hair loss, depression and more.
In the first year or so, since there were no previous data or examples to learn from, we did not rush to do marketing. On the contrary, we spent most of the time on R&D and market testing. We sold only via WeChat channel. We gathered users’ data and diligently learnt their feedback, and then adjusted our products accordingly. We are still doing this today.
Our requirements in R & D, material selection and internal testing are quite strict, so the cost is very high. Yet meanwhile, we want our products to be “affordable”, not only to white-collars of the management level, but also to young people who just entered society. We want to help them achieve long-term health; therefore, we attach great importance to the taste and using experience of the products so that consumers will be willing to use them continuously.
Has the coronavirus outbreak affected YUSUMTONG’s development plan?
In fact, we were affected by the outbreak. Our supply chain and logistics were almost suspended during a certain period of time. However, we are very optimistic about the market of the future since the pandemic has largely increased people’s awareness to health and immunity.
What has YUSUMTONG done during the coronavirus outbreak? What new products have been developed? What are the feedback from the market?
Soon after the outbreak, we launched a “Super-protection” range that includes two products: Tea Tree Hand Sanitizer and Tea Tree Antibacterial Spray. We also launched an “Anti-virus Set” for people who return to work, which include the two products above and an oil product for respiratory function enhancement and allergy alleviation. Our customers are quite satisfied with our reaction speed. All the distribution and sales channels, including those overseas, also recognize our marketing capabilities.
What are your concept and inspiration when developing products? How do they meet the needs of the market? What are the top 3 best seller this year? What kind of products will be developed in the future?
Urban women not only get a lot of stress from work, but also need to take care of the whole household. As a result, they may not suffer big diseases, but usually have different health conditions, such as menstrual pain, vigor deficiency after staying up late, cold hands and feet due to a deficiency of qi and blood, and immunity decline which make them prone to have allergy, stomachache, premature senility and grey hair, etc. Therefore, we design products that address such actual concerns of people in their daily life. At the same time, we attach much importance to the convenience and experience of using.
Rosa Rugosa (RMB 219) is our best sold star product. Organic plantation and advanced plantation techniques from Dutch is adopted at the origin of the rose. The rose blooms only in May every year. In order to preserve the quality of the essential oil, the rose must be picked with dew in the early morning. We add no sulfur or other chemicals in the drying process. The final product is a caffeine-free tea soup with pleasant color, fragrance and taste. It’s very effective in curing menstrual disorders, alleviating menstrual pain, and improving defecating. Long-term consumption will also brighten the skin and complexion.
Artemisia Argyi Moxa Therapy (RMB 189) is another best-selling product. We use saffron to enhance the efficacy of artemisia. It is a very handy option for urbanites who don’t have time to do acupuncture or moxibustion every day. It helps to stimulate blood circulation, relieve pain, dispel wind-cold, and alleviate discomfort. It can also be adopted in spa experience, as a way to show your care to the guests.
Damask Rose & Lavender Sleep Well Oil (RMB229) is the star product of YUSUMTONG’s Sleep Well range, especially designed for people who suffer poor sleep quality, who find it hard to sleep because of stress, who fail to sleep deeply or are troubled by jet lag. It is a very soothing essential oil that is perfect to be used in the welcome ritual at spas.
After studying the feedback from many customers, we launched Premium range at the end of last year, hoping to provide more delicate solutions to our customers and help them solve more sub-health problems. Anti-Pollution Respiratory Repairing Serum Oil is the star product of this range. It is designed for people who suffer rhinitis, pool respiratory functions and are prone to have allergy in spring. It is one of the best sold products during the coronavirus outbreak.
In the future, we will soon launch new products that address “Mental Wellness” and “Sleeping Wellness”. Meanwhile, products for pregnant women and new mums are also in the plan.
YUSUMTONG has entered John Bell & Croyden, why do you want to take YUSUMTONG abroad?
We have many overseas customers from Europe, U.S, Canada, Australia and Middle East. So it is for their convenience that we bring YUSUMTONG abroad. Moreover, we also hope that more people around the world can have the chance to know and use the products of YUSUMTONG.
So far, our potential distributors abroad all give very positive feedback. They especially recognize our strategy in pricing and consumer positioning, as well as our Oriental wellness concept. YUSUMTONG is still a very young brand. On one hand, we need to build a firm foundation in China. On the other hand, we keep learning the market trends and consumer needs in foreign markets so as to better meet the needs of global customers in the future.
YUSUMTONG will open its first physical store this year. Please tell us more about it. Will your products enter spas as well?
Very soon, our first physical flagship store will be opening in HKRI TaiKoo Hui, Shanghai. It’s a milestone for YUSUMTONG. In the future, we will continue to develop in the offline health industry. Retails and spas that target white-collar females are all our potential partners.
We believe that the online shopping platform which will soon be launched by SpaChina is also a great chance for cooperation. This platform breaks the traditional distribution mode and the limits of regional services, realizing a more efficient and lower-cost matching of product owners and spas. We will join SpaChina’s new online platform and launch a range of discount products and instructional videos. We will also set up a hotline to get feedback from the customers directly. We will try every means to shorten our distance with spas and the end users.
What are your suggestions to spa operators who want to do online marketing?
From my experience, it is easy to set up an online platform, but not so easy to operate it well. Our team is still young, we have tried nearly all the online marketing methods. We feel very lucky that some quite influential KOLs are willing to promote the products for us. And we have achieved good sales. Nevertheless, our initial investment is also quite heavy.
Spas have long been doing offline services. An intimate connection with guests is very crucial to spas. So I think it’s a good idea for spas to cooperate with professional online platform operators. The online platform team will help spas to do product selecting, online promotion and marketing while the spa staff only need to introduce the platform to the guests and draw more people to their products, and don’t need to bother about the operation and management of the platform. In this way, both sides are doing what they are good at.