written by: Shen Yeling, Lucitta

Christmas is a festive holiday graced by gifts for the loved ones, and lipsticks could be a common gift option for girls at Christmas. Here is the story of how thousands of girls in China go crazy because of the YSL Star Clash Edition lipstick.

Delicate Package of YSL Star Clash Source: Google Picture

It all started with a WeChat article on 16 October 2016 — How will your boyfriend reacts if you ask him for a YSL Star Clash lipsticks (叫男朋友送YSL星辰 他是什麼反應?). In this article, several screenshots are shown with conversational posts between boyfriends and girlfriends. All the girls are asking their boyfriends for a YSL Star Clash lipstick – the 2016 holiday special edition – as gifts. Almost all of the boyfriends agreed to do so as an expression of love.

This article attracted a lot of attention from readers and imitators who turn to their boyfriends for a YSL lipstick to test “whether he loves me or not”, which eventually spurs a rush to purchasing this special edition lipsticks. As a result, a soft-selling social media promotion has sparked off an effective sales campaign.

“Hunger Marketing” @work
There are at least two merits for this promotion campaign. First, the use of “hunger marketing” for a special edition product in scarcity is proven to be good formula in this case. Many web celebrities are joining the conversation to create an impression that this lipstick would be sold out soon. These “webrities” either own great amounts of stable fans, or hold frequent interactive raffles. This further triggers potential consumers to take prompt actions to purchase to enjoy the “first to own” status, for a sense of honor and satisfaction.


Top 10 Webrity in Promoting Activities  Source: http://www.isentia.com.cn

Top 10 Webrity in Promoting Activities Source: http://www.isentia.com.cn

Capitalize on the unique “group buy” shopping culture of mainland China
Secondly, the promotion is adept at making use of the “group-buy” consumer culture of mainland Chinese consumers to boost sales. “Overseas purchasing agents” is an established trend in China as a lot of the products in demand may not be readily available. In this case, consumers who cannot get the YSL lipstick after stock runs out could use the help of purchase agents without travelling aboard. It is also a fact that not all mainland consumers could afford to travel abroad frequently.

Fake YSL Star Clash on Taobao  Source: http://www.ifuun.com/a20161025495252/

Fake YSL Star Clash on Taobao Source: http://www.ifuun.com/a20161025495252/

Unplanned market sentiments
Due to the overwhelming sales response, it gives birth to a lot of “fake” copycat products on TaoBao and WeChat, which would eventually cause panic among consumers and scare them into quitting purchasing the product. The over-promotion within a short time also creates visual fatigue and antipathy towards the product, gradually lowering consumer purchase interest. This could attribute to the problem of the product itself. YSL put a lot of focus on product appearance but not color variety for this holiday special edition. There are only six regular colors that most ladies would have possessed already, thus lacking attractiveness to target consumers.

The YSL brand signature is often described as subversive, no compromise, independent, capable and brave to make its own rules. It would perhaps be more appropriate if YSL could put more effort in building a stronger association of between the product promotion and the brand attributes. The YSL Star Clash Edition lipstick promotion is instigating ladies to beg their boyfriends for a gift, which is quite deviant from what the brand stands for. Fortunately, the promotion is featured in a really “un-official and casual” tone and manner. Or else, the brand may run into the risks of upsetting the more discerning loyal fans.