In Asia organic beauty is a luxury sector – and nowhere more so than in Hong Kong, one of Asia’s most popular retail destinations. And although retail sales in Hong Kong have slumped in recent months, a development, which can be traced back to the slowing economy in China and a resultant decrease of Mainland Chinese tourists, organic cosmetics are still a popular product category.
Brenda Lee is the founder of Beyorg, the largest organic perfumery chain in Hong Kong and the market leader in the organic perfumery retail market. Lee opened her first store in 2005. Today, Beyorg operates seven stores across the city as well as an organic spa in the luxury shopping mall Pacific Place. The outlets are located in the most exclusive shopping malls in Hong Kong, including Times Square and Hysan in Causeway Bay, Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui, Festival Walk in Kowloon, New Town Plaza in Sha Tin and IFC mall in Central.
Lee explains: “I wanted to introduce real organic brands to Hong Kong. And I was surprised that there weren’t any truly organic brands back then, despite the fact that Hong Kong is such a competitive and advanced city. Instead, there were mostly so-called natural or “green washed” brands. I wanted to offer customers another choice. I didn’t think organic was a trend, I thought it was the way to go for everyone, everywhere.”
A key pillar of Beyorg’s retail strategy is exclusivity. All beauty brands sold in Lee’s stores are exclusive to Beyorg in Hong Kong and the stores create a luxurious retail experience to match, with well-trained staff and an elegant, stylish interior design. Beyorg’s portfolio includes more than 20 high-end organic brands from around the world, including Primavera, TomTom, Ambuja, Florascent and Amala from Germany, Susanne Kaufmann and Love is More from Austria, Argentum from France, Nuori from Denmark, Sans from New Zealand, Kiwabi and Naturaglacé from Japan, May Lindstrom, Jinsoon and RMS from the US and Madara from Latvia.
Most of the beauty brands retailed by Beyorg are from Europe. Lee says: “We have been educating our customers. We select beauty labels primarily from Europe because there are so many good organic products there. I think it is ahead of the rest of the world in the organic sector. Our customers were initially skeptical of German skincare as in their minds, Germany is primarily known for cars and technical products. But Hong Kong customers are very smart; they appreciate and accept good products very quickly.”
There are several selection criteria for successful Beyorg brands, Lee explains. ” The products have to perform very well and quickly. In addition, the brand must have an unique selling point and, of course, it needs to be suitable for Asian and Chinese skin and the weather. ” Hong Kong has hot and humid weather throughout most of the year and many interior spaces are heavily air-conditioned, so beauty products must be hydrating, yet light.
And which are the most popular brands in Beyorg’s stores? ” There are so many! A lot of our customers like Amala because the product performance is obvious and consistent. Suzanne Kaufmann is popular because it’s a beautiful brand with highly effective products. Love is More [the Asian brand name for Austrian brand Less is More] is a very good hair care brand that is hard to find elsewhere. Konjac sponges are such a small and simple product but for many customers they are a daily essential and go with any beauty products.
And Lee is already planning a further expansion for her Beyorg chain. She says: ” We will launch our online shopping site very soon. And we are waiting to expand into Mainland China once the Chinese government abolishes the mandatory animal testing policy.”