Hong Kong Market Comes of Age

Beauty is showing its true colors here. Walking down a street in Hong Kong just a decade ago, it was rare to spot women wearing foundation or nail polish. Now though, it's hard to find a bevy of better-groomed denizens anywhere.

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Other beauty products selling here include Annick Goutal, L'Artisan Parfumeur and Chantecaille.

"We're kind of a platform for small brands," said Wong, who added that, over the past decade, Joyce Beauty has brought names such as Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown to Hong Kong.

Harvey Nichols' Beyond Beauty department carries numerous exclusives in the city, as well, including June Jacobs, 3Lab, Ren, Demeter Fragrance, Ayurmedic, Le Vin and Olavi, according to Anita Yuen, director of the department store's beauty division, who explained the retailer has about 30 niche brands in all.

Beauty seller Sasa, for its part, manages in Hong Kong more than 100 international labels, such as Elizabeth Arden, La Colline and Nuxe, said Guy Look, chief financial officer and executive director of the retailer, which operates more than 56 doors here and in Macau, plus five doors in Mainland China and 47 elsewhere in Asia. Such exclusives generate some 35 percent of Sasa's business, which hit 2.89 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $371.5 million at average exchange, for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007.

"We try to work very closely with different brands," he said, explaining that it is not Sasa's strategy to be purely a discounter. "While working with them, we leverage their marketing and they, in turn, get business."

Look added that, with its wide product range (Sasa carries about 400 brands and more than 15,000 stockkeeping units), the retailer aims to be a one-stop cosmetics destination for everyone. Sasa's focus on customer service extends from the selling floor into its treatment rooms found in almost all of the retailer's locations. Sasa also owns the Philip Wain Fitness and Beauty Club, which has nine locations in the Asia-Pacific region.

In September, Sasa inaugurated a 133-square-foot Spa & Wellbeing section with six natural brands in its Causeway Bay store. A further five, including more brands, are planned in the city.

"It goes with Chinese tradition," said Look, referring to the belief that beauty comes from the inside out.

Such an emphasis on natural beauty goes hand-in-hand with The Body Shop's philosophy. The L'Oréal-owned natural retailer and manufacturer has more than 25 locations around Hong Kong.
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