Wanghong comes in many guises. It isn't limited to artsy cafes with unfathomable modern art and overpriced flat whites. Its insidious feelers have spread into every industry. Here's another one: three-year-old cosmetics brand Perfect Diary, with 10.3 million followers on Tmall and sales of 100 million rmb last Single's Day. The brand opened its first store in Shanghai at the end of October, crawling off the internet like wild weeds. How is it?
Jammed in between clothes shops, Perfect Diary looks, if anything, too ordinary. In spite of its wild popularity as a youthful brand, it looks formulaic. Cold and pale futuristic décor, a reflective mirror ceiling, and a loud trap soundtrack. On a Thursday afternoon, there were about ten young customers, hardly the crowd of a typical wanghong. (A second location opened a week ago.)
If you're into cosmetics and make-up art, you'll peg their business model in a second. Their product designs resemble well-known but more expensive brands. For example, their eyeshadow resembles American brand Anastasia, but sells for a fraction of the price. A box of single-colored eyeshadow is 29rmb, lipsticks start at 49rmb and for 129rmb you get an entire kit with twelve colors. Makes you wonder: how much lipstick did they have to sell to get to 100 million rmb? Gets better! They're in grand opening for the near future, with associated discounts: for every 199rmb, you get 30rmb off, and if you scan their QR code, you get a free make-up sponge. In-store purchases go through a WeChat app, which generates a pick-up code, and the cashier brings out your products. Giving them money feels like nothing – it's as easy as shopping online, and just as cheap.
The box of outrageously glamorous glitter (29rmb) was a nice surprise. The shiny glitter molecules are heart-shaped and adheres firmly. The matte lip color (49rmb) lasted through a meal and soup, with the pigment only fading by about half.
The Explorer Eyeshadow (129rmb), nearly sold-out at the store, was our only disaster. The shimmering dust wouldn't stick and one breath blew it away. One wipe of a tissue took it all right off without a trace of color. Not good.
Perfect Diary has been the number one selling cosmetics brand on Tmall since last year, counting both imported and domestic brands, luxury and inexpensive. That's not nothing. They have legions of faithful customers, and their comment sections are inundated with praise. So here's our verdict: only buy it if you're on a tight budget, but need something presentable and handy. Absolutely avoid the eyeshadow. Perfect Diary, B/1, 3300 Zhongshan Bei Lu, near Ningxia Lu. See its listing here.