Lime Crime Expands Makeup Offerings Into China For the First Time

limecrime unicorn queen
Lime Crime’s Unicorn Line


Lime Crime has made quite the name for itself as a vegan beauty brand in the United States, but they have recently decided to take their cruelty-free beauty to the far East. While this may sound like a simple expansion, some makeup lovers may recall that China’s regulations on cosmetics don’t jive very well with vegan brands.

Going Cruelty-Free in China?

China has strict laws that any makeup sold in their country must be tested on animals before it’s allowed to be used on humans, which is a policy that clearly contradicts Lime Crime’s vegan and cruelty-free ethics. Under normal conditions, this would have meant that Lime Crime had no way to sell their products in China without breaking their commitment to animal welfare. Thanks to some creative thinking, though, there is a way for Lime Crime to stay cruelty-free and still sell in China.

The Problems

Lime Crime quickly realized that the only way to remain vegan in China would be to ship their products directly from the United States to the doorsteps of Chinese customers. While this solution was a creative solution to the large obstacle of China’s animal testing laws, it came with its own set of issues that would need to be addressed.

The logistics of transporting products directly to Chinese buyers turned out to be exceptionally difficult; the duties and taxes on international shipping were almost cost-prohibitive, and Lime Crime soon became responsible for customer returns and questions in various Chinese dialects.

These obstacles would have been difficult for any company, but there was another issue that was specific to Lime Crime. The vegan beauty brand recently discovered that roughly one million of its lip toppers had been counterfeited and sold throughout China last year. After all, how could a brand sell its products when the market had already been exposed to low-quality counterfeits?

An Innovative Partnership

When Lime Crime decided the time was right to launch in China, they knew they would need some extra help to overcome the reputation that counterfeiters had built for them. That’s why they decided to partner with Revolve, a Los-Angeles-based e-commerce vendor looking to expand into beauty markets.

Lime Crime global general manager
Global General Manager Kim Walls

Kim Walls, Lime Crime’s Global General Manager, noted that Revolve had a viewpoint that meshed well with Lime Crime’s, and both organizations were marketing toward a similar client, so the match felt natural for each brand.

As Lime Crime was preparing to begin selling in China, they decided to start building up what is called a “seed audience,” a small group of a brand’s target demographic who will attract other like-minded consumers. To draw in these first customers, Lime Crime began pushing Revolve’s platform on its social media accounts and website.

This served as a way to let all potential buyers know that the only way to get Lime Crime in China would be to purchase through Revolve, and anything else would be a counterfeit that was unaffiliated with the vegan brand.

For those who already knew of LimeCrime, they’d be able to use the new e-commerce platform two hours before it would officially roll out. This not only to get consumers more involved with Lime Crime.  But people were encouraged to spread word of this  option to their friends, expanding Lime Crime’s consumer base.

Spreading Influence

For the final part of their expansion plan, Lime Crime made sure to work with beauty influencers to spread word of their products in China. What was noteworthy, though, was that Lime Crime didn’t go with the biggest voices in Chinese beauty or the traditional PR mavens, but instead chose to use lesser-known influencers who were more passionate about the company.

Walls explained that Lime Crime’s first priority was to find people who would sell their products, and noted that well-known mavens are often their own brand, and may accidentally overpower what they’re trying to sell.

Lime Crime’s official website for more information.

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