An interview with Mr. Yu Yichen, President of Oriental Beauty SPA
“To meet the comprehensive needs of urban women for health and beauty through modern beauty technology and complete and standard service and treatment systems” is the vision of Oriental Beauty SPA, an influential beauty business chain group in mainland China. In 1998, Ms. Shao Shanzhen founded the brand in order to “set an example of a qualified beauty salon in the beauty industry”. In 2006, Yu Yichen inherited his mother’s business and took over the company. He immediately called for unifying chain stores image, standardizing management system and treatment procedures, establishing brand structure and reemphasizing the core concept of corporate culture. Meanwhile, Yu yichen made a clear development route for the group involving the integration of supply chain, development of agency business, establishment of medical beauty platforms, introduction of online business… This development route is not only a reaction to market trends, but also a reflection of the unique insight of a young man who had rich studying and travelling experiences abroad. So far, the company has more than 200 directly-operated and franchise chain spas across mainland China.
Yu Yichen holds a MBA degree from the University of Gothenburg. He features advanced innovative ideas, excellent professional qualities and rich management experience. During the 20 years in beauty industry, he always adheres to the vision of bringing beauty and health to customers. Based on the four principles of legality, safety, high quality and high cost performance, he actively carries out international exchanges and has established good strategic cooperative relations with many well-known foreign brands. SpaChina invited him to share with us the story of Oriental Beauty SPA and his insight into the current situation and future development of the beauty industry.
Please introduce Oriental Beauty SPA to us, including your founding story, business scope, corporate value and concepts, signature products, and etc.
Ms. Shao Shanzhen founded Oriental Beauty SPA in 1998 at the age of 59 after she retired from Shaoxing People’s Hospital in Zhejiang Province as a chief physician. She visited Fujian, Xiamen and immediately fell in love with this beautiful coastal city. Then the brand was born there. That was the period when China’s beauty industry begun to develop, yet lack technical and service standards. Meanwhile, the industry people were quite conservative and outdated and the employees’ quality was unsatisfactory. So there was a huge contrast between the Founder’s expectations to the industry as a professional doctor and the real situation of it. Ms. Shao felt the urge to bring the industry to the right development path. Her story of boldly starting business in a different field at an old age has been an encouraging example in China’s beauty industry.
After more than 20 years of development, the current business of Oriental Beauty SPA covers high-end spa chains, international cosmetics agency, medical beauty, brand franchising, online beauty education and online beauty platforms. The diversified business sectors all develop around the vision of improving “women’s beauty and health”, and are bound together by the unified corporate culture and values. The corporate values of Oriental Beauty SPA can be summarized by nine words in three levels: Employees level – respect, growth and happiness; Customers level – responsibility, care and gratitude; Brand level – professionalism, quality and innovation. The principle of establishing these corporate values is to ensure the steady development of the company.
Oriental Beauty SPA believes in “professional services”. High quality service is the core competence of beauty enterprises to participate in the market competition and create value for customers. Core competitiveness is based on people, tools and standards. Since the early stage development, Oriental Beauty SPA has recruited staff from colleges and universities and established long-term cooperation with many medical colleges across the country for internship and recruitment programs. Every year, a large number of medical graduates join the company for internships, ensuring the overall personnel quality. “Gathering global technology and creating Oriental beauty” is our guidance when choosing beauty brand partners. We select our upstream suppliers worldwide with serious considerations of their professionalism and quality. So far, Oriental Beauty SPA has introduced the following brands to mainland China: Method Cholley, a representative of Swiss plant biochemical technology; Eve Taylor, an aromatherapy brand that has made great contributions to the global promotion of British aroma culture; and Brunovassari, a representative of Spanish luxury lifestyle. In terms of beauty service standards, Oriental Beauty SPA has introduced CIDESCO system and becomes one of the training and test centers of CIDESCO certification in mainland China.
Please tell us about your online platform. Why do you start an online business? What online services do you offer? How do you improve your relationship with customers and increase revenues through the online platform?
The rapid development of mobile Internet requires traditional enterprises to carry out digital transformation and upgrades. Oriental Beauty SPA began to explore the online business in 2015. Beauty industry is a typical service industry, with fixed business models and organizational structures. So the pace of digital transformation of the beauty enterprises is relatively slower than that of other consumption industries. We launched and independently run our online platform MEIYUE ZAIXIAN with the vision of “create beauty and enjoy life”. We continue to explore, adjust and upgrade our online services and now the platform covers multiple functions including online booking, product purchase, service purchase and social networking.
The highly efficient connecting ability of mobile Internet has exerted substantial impact on business models and enterprises’ operations. In order to better create customer values, enterprises must walk out from their old fixed operation models and be more open to new ideas. The previous linear competitive thinking modes and strategies of value chains will inevitably be replaced by the ecological and symbiotic network thinking modes and strategies. Beauty enterprises should position themselves as the constructors and service providers of the “urban aesthetic lifestyle”, and create high-quality lifestyle experience for customers together with other beauty-relevant organizations and individuals. MEIYUE ZAIXIAN hopes to become a social community and platform where people can share their “urban aesthetic life” experiences. We regularly launch online live broadcasting in cooperation with other businesses such as hairdressing, yoga, clothing and flower art brands, inviting end consumers to participate in the online sharing, and providing them with promotional product or service packages. Cross-border trials have driven service innovation, and created a competitive advantage of differentiation for enterprises.
Spa consumers become younger and younger. What are the unique consumption features and preferences of the young generation? How do you meet their needs?
We see increasingly younger beauty and spa consumers. Young customers have their distinct personalities, independent thinking and diversified interests. They have their own criteria for the values, quality, and appearance of the brands and products. Their consumption decisions are influenced by Internet, we-media and KOLs, and they are more willing to actively participate in the interaction with the brands. As a result, more and more niche brands are rising rapidly, and win the hearts of young consumers. That’s why we introduced Eve Taylor, an aromatherapy brand from UK. Aromatherapy is a highly specialized healing system based on the energy of plants which can help people restore the balance of body, heart and spirit. In this fast-paced modern life where technology prevails, people are seeking for something slow-paced, traditional and manual. Meanwhile, magnificent as the world seems, numerous hearts are swallowed up in loneliness and they are longing to be healed. In such context, aromatherapy becomes a rigid demand for many. We adopt an O2O approach for the operation of Eve Taylor. We promote aromatherapy knowledge and culture on the Online platform and invite customers to try our aromatherapy products and programs in the Offline stores. The outbreak of COVID-19 further drives the online consumption habits of customers. Therefore, the development strategies of Eve Taylor is following the big trend of the beauty industry.
Why do you choose Method Cholley? What unique products and treatments does it boast?
Premium quality and luxury experience is the common pursuit of Oriental Beauty SPA and Method Cholley. The high safety and remarkable effect of Method Cholley’s offerings really attract us. Meanwhile, to enter into China market is also a key step in the development plan of Method Cholley. So sharing the sincere vision to deliver to our customers the best experience they desire, Oriental Beauty SPA joins hands with Method Cholley, with the advantages of both, to provide customers with high-end professional beauty SPA experience.
Method Cholley integrates Swiss luxury plant anti-aging products with European innovative MEDIA SPA concept. We introduce it in the 17 directly-operated spa outlets. The Lymphatic Massage is a signature treatment of Method Cholley. In addition, there are a wide range of facials to target different needs of individuals, including Moisturizing & Stress Relief, Moisturizing Rejuvenation, Deep Cleansing & Energizing, Lift & Firm, Ocean Breeze and more. Together with Method Cholley, we personalize home skincare solutions for our guests to make the treatment effect remain.
Staff training and education is of great importance for business development. What have you done in this respect?
First of all, we have a standard new staff training system. Every newcomer must receive the “new employee orientation training” delivered by the company which lasts from one to three months. The training covers corporate culture, specialized knowledge, massage techniques, service procedures and product knowledge. Meanwhile, we set up a “technique supervisor” position assumed by a senior therapist in every spa branch to give guidance to the new staff face to face. In addition, we have introduced the CIDESCO system and encourage staff to actively join in the international certification exams. We launch different levels of specialized technique training to the staff and invite experts from different fields to come and give lectures and trainings now and then. Also, we establish an online education platform MEIYUE XUESHE, pooling together diverse teaching materials in video and audio forms for the staff to use.
What health and beauty trends do you see in the post-pandemic era?
In the post pandemic era, segmentation and integration will be the key words for the development of the beauty market. The two concepts seem to be contradictory yet are essentially unified. Market segmentation means that enterprises should pay more attention to fostering their differentiation competitive advantages and build new brands in the segmented markets. Meanwhile, integration means the combination of online and offline services and enterprises should learn to integrate external resources for collaborative development. Oriental Beauty SPA will follow the trends above and boldly move forward.