Ada Liu, distributor for DMK China, recently paid Australia a visit with 21 of her salon owners. They were here to meet DMK Founder, Danne Montague King, and learn more about the brand from Debbie Dickson, Director of Education at DMK Australia. There was even a decadent themed dinner in the mix.
Professional Beauty sat down with Ada between training sessions and sightseeing trips to talk about her personal journey to DMK and the challenges of the Chinese beauty market.
Why did you decide to start distributing DMK in China last year?
I think it’s the same story for lots of people – I had really bad, severe acne. When I moved back to China from Canada in 2011 I was looking for a brand that could really help my skin and I heard from a friend about DMK.
DMK had a conference at Beijing University Medical School, which I went to, and that was the first time I met Danne [Montague-King, DMK founder] and where I started the journey with DMK.
Were you already in the beauty industry?
No, I never thought I would get involved in the beauty industry because I had really bad skin problems, I wasn’t confident.
I did a Bachelor of Business Administration in Vancouver, Canada, so I was in the business field doing international trade and then moved back to China to get married. As a lady with really severe acne problems, I decided to do something in the beauty industry to help myself and others with the same problem.
How many clinics do you have?
We have less than 200. That’s not so many compared with population size but we are growing.
Why do you like working with DMK?
I love DMK because the more you know, the more you learn, the more loyal you will be. I never worry that a client will go somewhere else. DMK sells by itself. Not by me, not by the clinics. Once you know about it, you’re convinced.
What are the challenges of working in the Chinese market?
The Chinese market is very different. The economy in China is controlled by the political party. For example, the product registration took us an average of six to eight months for each product to be registered and the average cost is US$25,000 for each product. The registration expires every four years so we will need to do it all over again.
It’s the economy structure and the environment that is the biggest challenge, not the people or the clients.
What about the benefits?
We have a saying: whoever has been working in the beauty industry in China can jump to any other industry. You’re a well-rounded person because you need to know the technical aspects, the client relationship aspect and you also need to know how to manage your team.
Is the Chinese salon market competitive?
Yes, very. We have data that shows the average life of a clinic is one and a half years, after that you will decide if you keep going or close down. If you can survive for two years it’s more likely you will have a stable business.
There’s also a large turnover of therapists. Maybe every month you have new faces coming in to start training and others leaving.
What are successful Chinese salons doing?
There are two things: really good client relationship management and service, and the treatments they do. If you’re only offering something the client can do at home then there’s no competitiveness at all…This is why we have clients that have been with DMK for 13 to 15 years – it’s something special they can’t find anywhere else.
When clients go to your clinic they not only look for results, they also look for service. This is really important in china.
What are the most popular treatments?
This is something to do with the beauty trend in China. Feels good and looks good treatments are not that popular any more – clients can do that at home. Whenever they go to a clinic or spa they are really looking for solutions…They want to do something really special in clinic. That’s why more and more people are asking for enzyme treatments.
How does the Chinese ideal of beauty affect the treatments clients want?
Chinese ladies just want to be white… Decades ago they used a lot of whitening creams that contain corticosteroids, which really ruins the skin and causes lots of corticosteroid-dependent dermatitis.
If the skin gets addicted to corticosteroids, once you stop it it’s a disaster…So nowadays, lots of clients come to DMK to revise the dermatitis and the impaired barrier function. We have revised lots of dermatitis in China caused by the whitening trend.
What do you see as the future of beauty in China?
I think we still have a long way to go. Now the beauty industry in China is just starting to move from the conventional skincare to paramedical. I really want to create a big paramedical skin revision trend in China with DMK.
Next month, DMK China will sponsor a medical conference that is organised by the Ministry of Health and attracts thousands of doctors to do advanced training…We will have Danne Montague-King giving three lectures on laser, injectables and skin revision.
Like Danne always wished, we want to use DMK to elevate the beauty industry in China. To help them switch to something advanced and higher level, more sustainable.