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Drunk Elephant to Launch in China

The skin-care brand will enter China via Tmall and Hong Kong via Sephora.

Drunk Elephant is expanding its international footprint this September.

The brand, which is said to be in talks with strategic buyers to do a deal, will launch in Hong Kong at Sephora and with a two-day pop-up shop, and in mainland China via cross-border commerce with Tmall.

Chief executive officer Tim Warner declined to comment on how close Drunk Elephant is to an acquisition announcement, but noted that launching in China, given that market’s strength overall and proclivity to skin care specifically, is a strategic priority. To that end, earlier this year, the brand hired a general manager for the region based in Shanghai.

“There’s no reason to wait,” Warner said. “We’ve been working on this initiative for the last year and solidified it with our hire in January.”

Warner said sales in Hong Kong and China are expected to comprise about 10 percent of Drunk Elephant’s global business, which currently includes the U.S., the U.K., Singapore and Australia. He declined to comment on specific numbers, but sources have said the brand pulled in close to $100 million in net sales for 2018.

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Drunk Elephant laid the seeds for the launch earlier this year, inviting five leading KOLs to New York to experience its House of Drunk pop-up. In September, the brand will broaden its efforts, and  seed products to about 400 KOLs in mainland China and Hong Kong, said Lucia Perdomo-Ruehlemann, chief marketing officer.

Drunk Elephant was a pioneer in the clean skin-care category, and Warner took pains to point out that cross-border commerce is consistent with its cruelty-free positioning.

In Hong Kong, the line will be at Sephora’s new stores in the IFC Mall and Causeway Bay. There will also be a two-day pop-up in central Hong Kong, where brand founder and chief creative officer Tiffany Masterson will meet with editors and influencers, in a selfie-tastic environment similar to the ones the brand created in New York and London.

Drunk Elephant is launching its entire range in both markets, including hero stockkeeping unit T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, whose high percentage of alpha hydroxyl acid — 25 percent — has been a barrier to entry in certain countries.

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In Asia, however, where skin care is an obsession, anticipation seems to be high for the brand.

“We’ve been hearing from the Chinese consumer and we’re so appreciative of their enthusiasm,” said Masterson. “You never know how your product will be received, but the goal for me remains the same no matter where we go: to help people and hopefully make them fall in love with their skin.”

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