On February 9, 2024, L’Oréal Group, the French beauty giant, announced a minority equity investment in the Chinese fragrance brand To Summer.
The transaction was conducted through L’Oréal China’s Shanghai Meicifang Investment Co., Ltd. (hereafter referred to as “Meicifang”), with support from L’Oréal Group’s strategic innovation venture capital firm, BOLD (Business Opportunities for L’Oréal Development). “This investment further demonstrates L’Oréal’s steadfast commitment and willingness to cooperate with Chinese beauty brands,” the group pointed out in a press release.
L’Oréal Group also noted that this investment is not only the latest example of the group’s headquarters and the Chinese market working together to shape the beauty of the future but also reaffirms the important position of the Chinese market and Chinese beauty brands in L’Oréal’s global layout. This investment in To Summer has become another exemplar of Sino-French economic and trade exchanges.
To Summer was established in Beijing in 2018 and launched its first product in 2019: Crystal Mood Fragrance Diffuser, successfully entering the market with this home decor product that combines fragrance oils and natural crystals. Drawing inspiration from Chinese Eastern aesthetics, art, and culture, including nomadic landscapes and scrolls of poetry and paintings, and blending contemporary culture and artistic philosophy, To Summer embarked on its journey of fragrance creation and sensory experience. The brand, starting with precious Eastern fragrant materials, brings a lasting fragrance that integrates the five senses, rooted in a global context, creating a series of artistic perfumes, home fragrances, and wilderness care series full of freedom and imagination.
Since 2020, To Summer has begun exploring offline channels and opened its first pop-up store at Lane Crawford in Beijing’s Financial Street Shopping Mall. Notably, To Summera’s stores focus more on experience and the sensory connection with consumers, for example, collaborating with several domestic museums/art galleries to regularly change the store’s themed exhibitions.
The deep binding with the cities where they are located and traditional Chinese culture is one of the highlights of To Summer’s brand products, activities, and store designs. For instance, the inspiration for the Nanjing store “Guan Xia Yun Fang” comes from Nanjing’s ancient silk handicraft, Yunjin. Since 2021, the brand has also been seeking ancient buildings in cities for renovation and transformation, such as Shanghai’s “Xian Ting”, which refurbished a century-old Spanish building; the newly opened Wuxi “Guan Xia Xi Xiang” is located in the west side hall of the Chenghuang Temple, a building with a history of 655 years. Similar types of stores include Beijing’s “Guozijian Courtyard” and Chengdu’s “Shu Guan”.
Fabrice MEGARBANE, L’Oréal Group’s Chief Global Growth Officer, stated: “Chinese consumers are among the most demanding and discerning in the world. They crave more personalized experiences in beauty, which has driven the rapid development of the perfume market, now one of the fastest-growing categories. This investment in To Summer is one of L’Oréal Group’s most important investments in the North Asia market in 2023. Perfume is a carrier that connects beauty with emotions, the most expressive manifestation of culture. We hope to bring Chinese culture and art to consumers worldwide through this investment and push Eastern scents and fragrant ingredients onto the international stage. We are extremely excited about this cooperation with To Summer. At this special moment of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France, this investment symbolizes the cultural exchange and development under the cooperation between the two countries.”
Shen Li, the founder of To Summer brand, commented: “Eastern fragrances represent one of the most personalized expressions chosen by contemporary Chinese consumers based on cultural confidence and independence. We hope that through cooperation with L’Oréal, we can draw on its century-long expertise in global beauty research and innovation to jointly promote deep research and development of Eastern fragrant materials and outline a blueprint for exclusive Eastern perfumes. With a contemporary perspective, we aim to bring more poetic and imaginative Eastern art fragrances and the culture of Eastern elegance to the global market. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, we are fortunate to become one of the links in the communication and integration of Eastern and Western cultures. To Summer will continue to expand its boundaries to the revival of traditional Chinese vessel crafts and the renovation of old street buildings, opening them up for public experience. We aim to present a contemporary Eastern beauty that is inclusive, universal, observable, and smellable to the global audience.”
About L’Oréal Group
For over 110 years, L’Oréal, as a pioneer in the global beauty business, has been dedicated to meeting the beauty needs and aspirations of consumers around the world. With the mission of “creating beauty that moves the world”, L’Oréal defines beauty with inclusiveness, ethics, and generosity, and is committed to sustainable development for society and the environment. Boasting a strong portfolio of 36 international brands and the forward-looking “L’Oréal for the Future – Sustainability Commitments for 2030”, L’Oréal offers high-quality, efficient, safe, sincere, and responsible beauty products to consumers worldwide, unleashing the infinite diversity of beauty.
The Group employs 87,400 people globally and has a well-balanced global business footprint and comprehensive distribution network (including e-commerce, mass market, department stores, pharmacies, hair salons, travel retail, and brand boutiques), enabling L’Oréal to achieve a global sales turnover of 38.26 billion euros in 2022. With 20 research and development centers in 11 countries and a professional R&D and innovation team consisting of 4,000 scientists and more than 5,500 technology and digital talents, L’Oréal is committed to creating the beauty of the future, becoming a leader in beauty technology.
About L’Oréal China
The world’s largest cosmetics group, L’Oréal, entered the Chinese mainland market in 1997. Headquartered in Shanghai, L’Oréal China currently has 31 brands, a research and development and innovation center, two factories located in Suzhou and Yichang, and over 14,000 employees. After 25 years of high-quality, robust, and sustainable growth, China has become L’Oréal Group’s second-largest market, the headquarters of the Group’s North Asia beauty golden triangle delta, and one of the three hubs of the Group’s beauty technology. 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of L’Oréal’s entry into the Chinese mainland market, during which L’Oréal China established its first investment company, Shanghai Meicifang Investment Co., Ltd.; and laid the foundation for L’Oréal Group’s first self-built smart operation center in Suzhou. Standing at the new starting point of the next 25 years of “beauty journey”, L’Oréal China plans to build a high-end cosmetics smart operation center in Nantong. As a responsible corporate citizen, L’Oréal China consistently implements the Group’s “L’Oréal for the Future – Sustainability Commitments for 2030”, becoming the Group’s first location to achieve carbon neutrality in its own operations, and actively contributes to the beautiful development of Chinese society through social responsibility projects.
BOLD (Business Opportunities for L’Oréal Development) is L’Oréal Group’s strategic innovation venture capital firm. Established in 2018, BOLD expands the boundaries of beauty through strategic minority equity investments in startups with high growth potential in the beauty value chain. Its investment portfolio includes emerging brands and innovative companies in the technology and biotechnology sectors.
Shanghai Meicifang Investment Co., Ltd. is a professional investment company, established in May 2022 by L’Oréal, the world’s largest beauty group and leader in the Chinese market, marking the Group’s first investment in the Chinese market. Meicifang’s core mission is to invest in the beauty of the future, by collaborating with more partners and talents in the Chinese beauty industry to nurture forward-looking innovative businesses and beauty technology solutions and help them take root, contributing to the construction of an open innovation ecosystem in China and leading the high-quality development of the Chinese beauty industry. Meicifang’s five major investment areas: new generation beauty brands, new digital consumer experiences, advanced supply chain technology, future science, and sustainable development.
| Source: Press Release, Official Social Media of the Brand
| Image Credit: To Summer
| Editor: LeZhi