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Global Views: Beauty without borders, Creative Masks Pave the Road for Annie’s Way
Date published 2020-10-14

Simple, convenient and effective, using face masks as a means of skincare is the secret to girls’ beauty. Amidst the ever-so-competitive red ocean face mask market, Annie’s Way has eyes fixed on foreign markets. Its fluttering butterfly logo signifies a beautifying transformation. It was by chance that CEO Annie Wu established a company started her own brand. Thanks to endorsement from internet influencers, her flagship products – Jelly masks, set a record-breaking one hundred thousand sales in a single month, taking Hong Kong, Australia, China, North America, Northern Europe and Southeast Asia by storm. Moreover, the exotic Taiwanese “bubble tea face mask” Made its way back to Taiwanese consumers after generating a craze in foreign countries, becoming one of the highlights of the 2019 Taiwan Excellence Award.

Annie’s Way CEO Annie Wu has stated that “We spared no expense. By combining patented silver ion from Japan with natural herbal extracts from Sun Moon Lake black tea, Nantou green tea, Dahu strawberry and Yujing mango to create a Taiwanese face mask that incorporates local tea culture. Its soothing bubble tea packaging and sweet fragrance appeals to the eyes and the nose.”

This type of face mask was not originally designed for Taiwanese customers, but was rather introduced back to Taiwan after gaining popularity in the U.S., subverting the stereotypical assumption of bubble tea as just a type of beverage.

With her family having been in the cosmetic OEM business for over 40 years, CEO Wu is no stranger to the manufacturing of cosmetics; despite this, creating a new brand proved to be difficult and her family did not agree to her decision in the beginning. Annie Wu invested all of her savings and started her business at a department store counter. The brand took up a soft, delicate princess-like image, and soon saw success among young customer age groups. Eventually, other department stores also contacted her, thereby allowing her to branch out. After experiencing of initial success, Annie Wu gained confidence in her products and started participating in cosmetic expos, expanding her brand to the market.

  • Coming up with a hundred types of face masks

“Back then, face mask products were much simpler. There wasn’t such a large variety of products on the market.” A Malaysian customer was so happy with the results after using her products, she came up with a business cooperation proposal and asked her to develop 100 types of face masks. Although Wu was not able to come up with that big a variety of products, it contributed stimulated her creativity when it came to product development.

The rise of internet marketing played an important in promotion, whether its department stores or exporting to foreign markets. Annie Wu recalled certain customers being happy to share their feedback online after trying Annie’s Way products at department stores, some even contacting her in hopes of becoming her distributors abroad. It is then that Annie’s Way started distributing its products overseas, starting with China, then Hong Kong, U.S., Canada, Norway, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, with the Middle East and India markets being the current markets under development. Thanks to the rise of social influencers and international bloggers, customers around the globe are now enjoying the Annie’s Way skincare products.

However, the foreign distributor business model was not all sunshine and rainbows. Annie’s Way distributors in China established their own production lines to replace Annie’s Way products. In addition, Annie’s Way also experienced a shock when a previously agreed-upon opening at a mall faced sudden termination due to department store changes. However, the cooperation with U.S. wholesale channels remains stable and have continued to thrive. “Repurchase rate is the key”, stated Annie Wu. The greater the competition in the face mask market, the more urgent it is to develop new products. As the international paper face mask market becomes saturated, Annie’s Way has leveraged its product variety advantage to launch gel masks of various colors that can clean, eliminate pimples and whiten the skin. As Annie’s Way marches into the Southeast Asian market, its diverse product lines have turned it into a black horse of the gel mask industry.

  • Taiwan Excellence Award – The Icing on the cake Returning to the Domestic Market

Active participation in cosmetic exhibitions at home and abroad is the window through which Annie’s Way develops its overseas markets. In recent years, export has become the company’s primary market of business, which is why it actively participates in panels and seminars held by TAIRA in hopes of enhances its expertise. It is these events that gave Annie’s Way a chance to compete in the Taiwan Excellence Award. In 2019, Annie’s Way won the brand image award, propelling Annie’s Way to new heights.

Having been recognized by the Taiwan Excellence Award, Annie’s Way has been able to stand alongside other Taiwanese high-quality products, inspiring creativity and stimulating joint product development to display the cultural value of Taiwanese products. To enhance domestic distribution, Annie’s Way was selected as part of the Kaohsiung top 10 cosmetic gifts, and was featured in the Kaohsiung Goods platform promoted by the Economic Development Bureau, Kaohsiung City Government, cultivating the domestic market in addition to tending to exports.

Annie Wu stated that the economic rise of Southeast Asia in recent years meant it is now a considerably sized market with great potential, but since Taiwan did not join the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), the resulting tariff and transportation issues made it more difficult and time-consuming for Taiwanese brands to enter the ASEAN market. High tariffs means lowered competitiveness, which means Taiwan has to avoid the low-priced market and not compete against Korean cosmetics and instead transition to the high-end market. Annie’s Way should invest more in design and packaging enhancement its current goal and challenge.

Speaking from her own personal experience, Annie Wu pointed out that Annie’s Way has been cultivating international influencers since 2013, with many firms contacting them through said influencers. Although many projects under negotiation have been suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many e-commerce distributors also reported a rise in sales, to some extent making up for drop of distribution performance.

Annie Wu also wants the brand to compete in both domestic and international competitions and to make proper use of resources provided by the government such as applying for the Bureau of Foreign Trade’s International Market Development Program or the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), thereby propelling Taiwanese brands onto the international stage.

This exclusive is provided by the “Taiwan Industry Image Enhancement Project”, delegated to Global Views. For the full article in Chinese, please see: https://www.taiwanexcellence.org/tw/press/newsroom/1162

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