“I believe that those who persevere in building their own brands also persevere in discovering and fulfilling their inner self.” An interview with Ms. Liu Qianfei, the Founder of ZHUBEN
Zhuben, a name which means “to trace the source”, is an aromatherapy brand specializing in protecting the skin sebum membrane while removing make-up. Adhering to a holistic wellness approach, Zhuben relies on the wisdom of nature and seeks to maximally awaken the natural self-healing power of the skin. Zhuben began its development journey in 2015 and carried out numerous strict tests and adjustments before it finally became the widely praised best-seller. It is a game-changer in China’s makeup remover market and brings to customers a cleansing product brand that can truly protect their skin. SpaChina interviewed Ms. Liu Qianfei, the Founder of Zhuben to share with us the story behind the brand’s success.
Why did you establish Zhuben? Please introduce more of the brand to us.
I have been fond of wellness and nutrition since I was in high school. After graduation, I went on to learn aromatherapy. I am longing to get a deeper understanding of the human body and the laws of nature. I want to give my short life a higher quality.
To found Zhuben was to obey the voice of my heart. Several years ago, I found that the body-mind healing market was dominated by several international brands. However, they not only sold at quite a high price, but also lacked sufficient communication with the young customers. So I had the wish to build my own brand and then I left the investment industry which I had been involved in for many years. I believe that every young man and woman today can achieve a true transformation through body-mind healing products and services. I want to build a brand with different approaches in terms of product modality, educational method, supply chain optimization and pricing so that the public can have access to these products.
I decided to start with the functional products and attract young customers with the strong functionality, as well as an aromatic nature, the Oriental aesthetics, and the healing property of the brand. In terms of pricing, we have built our own laboratory, developed revolutionary techniques, and controlled the international supply chains, all aiming to cut the costs of intermediate parts and return the value to the customers as much as possible. It took us 8 months to develop the first product, and 6 months to optimize the supply chain costs. Finally, our customers are able to enjoy global top technology for 100 RMB.
Why did you start with cleansing oil?
Many years’ study of aromatherapy has given me a deeper knowledge of skin health. I found that the present makeup remover market had some fatal weak points. Cleansing water takes up 90% of the market and the rest is divided between cleansing oil, lotion and cream. However, the principle of removing makeup should be: to dissolve oil with oil. Oil is the most effective substance and exerts the least influence to the skin’s sebum film. Moreover, because of oil’s properties, there is no need to add preservatives, thickeners or conditioning agent. Yet the mainstream brands didn’t have satisfactory emulsification technology. Customers felt their faces were quite oily after using the products.
Also, almost all the brands featured “strong cleansing”. But to people with dry and sensitive skin like me, our skin feels very tight and dry after using the products. I understand this is because the strong de-greasing process takes away my skin sebum membrane. This quickens skin aging. 60% of Chinese have sensitive skin. There is a variety of skin types, different water-oil situations, and different kind of make-up, so there should be more personalized solutions.
With such recognition, I began to develop Zhuben’s first generation Botanical Purifying Cleansing Oil. We launched “1-second emulsification technology” to transform cleansing oil experience and eliminate customers’ fear of oil. We also developed “critical emulsification technology” which can remove the harmful cosmetics’ grease but retain the natural skin sebum membrane. Protecting the sebum membrane with plant oil film helps the skin to restore a more balanced condition.
Zhuben is a great example in terms of online marketing. Why did you choose to do online marketing? How did you do it? Did you meet any difficulties?
Today, young people’s recognition of a new brand and their consumption decisions largely rely on social media. So it is a must to embrace online marketing. Zhuben has carried out marketing on 6 mainstream platforms including TikTok, Taobao Live, Little Red Book, bilibili, Weibo and Kuaishou. We have also established a mature and stable cooperative resource network.
As decisive a factor as it is, marketing is not the most essential thing. Only when a brand possesses strong competitiveness, differentiation and unique techniques can the marketing be effective. This is especially true for a brand when it hasn’t yet established a strong brand force.
At the early stage of marketing, I met many difficulties. It is not easy to educate the market on a new concept of skin sebum membrane protection. However, as long as the things you are doing are beneficial to the public, it will surely be recognized someday. Our first generation of cleansing oil products came to the market in 2017, but it was not until 2 years later that we saw some chances. During these two years, we experienced capital chain rupture, and many people asked to me register a Japanese brand or adopt the ODM mode to reduce cost. But I was not willing. Now my insistence has finally borne fruit.
Do you have any plans to cooperate with SPAs?
Zhuben is very willing to join hands with spas. It’s our vision to create an Oriental healing brand affordable for young people and set modern people free from anxiety and stress. Therefore, we are now working on our high-end aromatherapy skincare and body care lines. We have formed strategic cooperation with IFPA, Chinese prescription experts and Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Furthermore, we have global supply chain resources, a group of aroma specialists and rich R&D resources. So we can create more diverse and personalized healing products for spas. We will also launch co-branded programs with spas and give them more exposure in social media.