Crossover collaborations bring about unlikely partners for Chinese cosmetics - such as newspapers, museums, and dictionaries
Jan 7 · 6 min read

In China, it’s recently become all the rage to collaborate with companies from totally unrelated industries. By crossing over their products with brands and mascots from other industries, companies are aiming to bring about a sense of novelty and uniqueness. We take a look at what’s the buzz behind this strategy in the cosmetics domain.

In China, “IP marketing” is a term that means pairing up products with intellectual properties such as characters from manga and anime. Examples of this have been around since 2015, and the main reason for it has been the extent that intellectual property rights have become more important in China and more in line with Western countries. In 2014, the China State Council announced the “Plan of Action for Strengthening the Implementation of National Intellectual Property Rights Strategies ”. This laid out policies for improving IP-related laws to strengthen the creation, operation, and protection of intellectual property by the year 2020.

When it comes to IP marketing, there are many cases where internationally renowned characters are used, such as those by Disney. However, as licensing fees are high only a limited number of brands can afford the investment. Due to this, there’s been an increase in “cross-border marketing” where companies collaborate with famous brands from different industries.

According to the cosmetics industry cross-border research that was jointly announced by CBNDATA and TMALL, the industries that saw the most consumer expenditure of cross-border marketed products in 2018 were (in order) apparel, shoes, bags, cosmetics, sports & outdoor, and kids’ clothes & toys.

What all these industries have in common is the fact that their consumers are mostly from the younger generations. In fact, over half of the consumers who buy cross-border marketed products are either Post-90s (born in the 1990s) or Post-95s (born after 1995). Social media postings by these generations have driven a lot of buzz around these novel and original product tie-ups, and they seem to be spreading the word about them across a wide spectrum of users.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government hasn’t stopped at simply drafting up the policies for IP reform, but has also been actively participating in these cross-industry tie-ups in order to drive the movement forward. This has taken the form of many state-owned institutions and media outlets collaborating with product makers.

■ BIOHYALUX x The Forbidden City Museum
In December 2018, BIOHYALUX, a beauty brand developed by a major biochemical company, announced their collaboration with the Palace Museum — the national museum housed in Beijing’s Forbidden City — and launched their jointly-produced products, a face mask and lipstick. The face mask’s packaging features the image of classic Chinese paintings from the museum. The lipstick comes in six different colors, each based on a national treasure from the museum. On BIOHYALUX’s flagship TMALL site, these lipstick sales have exceeded 33,000 units. What’s more, users have leftover 7,000 comments, and the product’s star rating is an impressive 4.9 out of 5.

Courtesy of Weibo

■ Dabao x The People’s Daily newspaper
The long-established skincare brand Dabao has helped sponsor a public installation event held by the state media outlet the People’s Daily in line with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In August last year, they released a limited-edition milky lotion in collaboration with the People’s Daily. Also, a notebook emblazoned with the People’s Daily logo was added on as a freebie.

Courtesy of Dabao

■ YUESAI x Xinhua Dictionary
Chinese brand YUESAI, an affiliate of L’Oréal, collaborated with Xinhua Dictionary to produce a mini bag in the shape of the dictionary and sold it as a set in August 2019. This was part of an ad campaign for a moisturizer that uses lingzhi mushrooms. The campaign was headed by the catchphrase “a new feminism, revolt against time”, and hashtags of the phrase have reached up to 50 million views on Weibo.

■ L’Oréal x National Museum of China
In 2018, L’Oréal teamed up with the National Museum of China to release lipsticks in five colors representing the Five Beauties that appear in a Qing dynasty painting kept at the museum. The packaging was also adorned with traditional Chinese paintings.

Beauty companies haven’t just been partnering with institutions owned by the government. Let’s also take a look at some examples where collaborations with other industries have been drawing attention.

■ M·A·C x Honor of Kings
In January 2019, M·A·C partnered up with Tencent Games’ online game “Honor of Kings” to release a limited-edition lipstick of five varieties — each based on a character from the game — and that mainly targets cosplay fans. When it was released through a WeChat mini-program and TMALL, the whole lineup was sold out within an hour.

Courtesy of

■ Perfect Diary x Discovery Channel
In March last year, Perfect Diary teamed up with the American TV network Discovery Channel to release the “Explorer’s 12-Color Eye Shadow ”. Four varieties have been released, each with a photo printed on the lid featuring either a pig, tiger, crocodile, or wolf. During Tmall’s June 18th major sales event ‘618’, over 70,000 units were sold within 30 minutes.

■ CHANDO x Want Want
In 2018, CHANDO partnered up with major Taiwanese sweets maker Want Want Holdings to release a face mask printed with the company’s mascot and a BB cream with a lid featuring a design inspired by the company’s famous rice crackers. In the 2018 Singles’ Day sale, the 20,000 units made available were swiftly sold out within 28 minutes.

These cross-industry partnerships have brought greater attention to both parties, as well as opportunities to attract new customers. When the average Chinese person from the countryside visits Beijing, the first places they go to are usually Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City Museum opposite, so the impact of cosmetics brands collaborating with such iconic institutions is huge. For news media such as the People’s Daily, the collaborations will have likely helped them appeal more to young people. As a way to break through China’s economic slowdown by stimulating consumption, IP marketing and cross-border marketing are likely to gather momentum in 2020.

Text: Ching Li Tor
Original text (Japanese): Team Roboteer is a digital magazine in Japan that overviews and analyzes current movements of beauty industry focusing on technology and digital marketing.

Written by is a digital magazine in Japan that overviews and analyzes current movements of beauty industry focusing on technology and digital marketing. is a digital magazine in Japan that overviews and analyzes current movements of beauty industry focusing on technology and digital marketing.

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