HARMAY – The New Gen Retailer

Cosmetics retailer Harmay, considered as the Chinese Sephora, has frequently appeared on social platforms such as Red and Douyin these years and become one of the most trendy venues for photoshoots and shopping

Launching as a cosmetics e-merchant on Taobao, the 11-year-old company has now opened 5 stores in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Chengdu.  Although the scale is not large, as early as 2019, Harmay’s sales exceeded 280 million yuan, and its monthly sales ranked first among beauty collection stores in China. 


The Xintiandi store opened in Oct 2020, the 2nd Harmay in Shanghai after the Anfu Store.


Starting as an online store, shelves, stairs and packing tables are essential elements in the “Warehouse Culture” and remain core elements throughout each store. Based on the inspiration of industrial warehouses, minimal and well-crafted interiors echo the sentiment of spaciousness and solitude where customers are given full control to inspire and explore. 


Inspired by the local wet markets, Harmay Xintiandi is intentionally designed to stretch beyond the expectations of a high-end shopping district. Spanning 600sqm and two stories, the store features an eclectic array of goods ranging from beauty products to bananas. The second-floor houses storage – as with all Harmay locations, it functions both as a brick-and-mortar shop and an e-commerce fulfillment site. 


Samples or mini-size beauty products are crucial touchpoints to improve brand relevance, attract new customers, and facilitate full-size sales. To meet the needs of both skincare and fragrance consumers, samples are the perfect solution. Harmay has claimed that their prices are as competitive as the ones in duty-free stores. The prices can be about 15% off the counter price. However, cosmetic samples are also available for sale. The income from the samples makes up for those discounts of the original price so that the store can realize profit.  


Today’s Chinese millennials and Gen Z consumers are different from the previous generations. The traditional consultative mode— where beauty advisers explain ingredients and offer advice — tends to be less appealing to today’s consumers who are more influenced by KOLs and KOCs

85% of beauty consumers have made purchasing decisions before entering sales channels. Harmay’s supermarket-like product display encourages self-serving shopping which accurately captures the mindset of Gen Z. 


Conventional product-focused marketing content is shifting to a knowledge, idea, and perspective-oriented one. This trend is notable in the beauty industry as Chinese beauty consumers are inclined to self-educate on beauty skills and products. To captivate this group, the retailer leverages content-driven marketing, engaging followers seamlessly from content to products. The official WeChat account posts exemplify this strategy: “Gift list for Lunar New Year,” “What Men Wear Lipstick Look Like,” and “Makeup Transformation for Random Person” are either instructions or popular social experiments. Alongside publishing posts on WeChat official account and Weibo for users, Harmay encourages consumers to create their own content spontaneously on social media. 


  • https://jingdaily.com/can-harmay-take-out-sephora-in-china/
  • https://www.prnasia.com/story/294365-1.shtml 
  • https://insideretail.asia/2021/01/22/harmay-launches-wet-market-inspired-store-in-china/
  • https://www.bbtnews.com.cn/2019/0926/320605.shtml  


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