Kenyan skincare brand wins over Chinese market

8 February 2023
ITC News

Peridot, a natural beeswax moisturizer, has found success in exporting through a partnership with Chinese branding agency thanks to ITC support

When Irene Mumo, founder of Trueways Enterprises Ltd., created her Peridot line of beeswax moisturizers, she knew that her products had potential far beyond her home country, Kenya.

Made from organic beeswax, the moisturizers have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and anti-oxidative properties. But she didn’t know how to market those benefits in competitive overseas markets like China.

That changed in 2018, when she attended the China International Import Expo (CIIE) with the support of the International Trade Centre (ITC). There she met with a Chinese branding agency, which resulted in a multi-year collaboration which would introduce Peridot to the Chinese market.

To reach this goal, Peridot had to improve in creative packaging, consumer research and advertising methods.


Better packaging, research and advertising: Establishing a market


Peridot worked with her Chinese partner to combine elements of the beeswax moisturizer with aesthetics popular among Chinese consumers. The new packaging highlighted the natural sourcing of the ingredients while unifying the design. At the ITC booth of CIIE 2019, Kenya’s then-Ambassador to China H.E. Sarah Serem praised the new look, which attracted the attention of many visitors.

“Getting into the Chinese market through collaboration and partnership with ITC has opened crucial export opportunities for us,” Mumo said. “Now the product has become an internationally recognized brand.”

For customer research and to collect feedback, the company sent samples to different consumer groups across China. The findings led Peridot to target specific consumer groups, for instance those with special skin conditions, before gradually expanding toward the general population.

To diversify advertising methods, they moved their marketing campaigns to various social media platforms, ranging from Wechat and TikTok to Xiaohongshu. As a result, Peridot has gained subscribers and increased its conversion rates.

For traditional marketing, Peridot and her Chinese partner opened pop-up stores and joined art exhibitions in major shopping malls in Shanghai. They also established partnerships with several private hospitals, micro-businesses, and cosmetics stores.


A sustainable, inclusive brand with bees and women at its core


In addition to touting the product’s benefits for the skin, Peridot has established itself as an environmentally sustainable brand. Bees are the cornerstone of the brand, but populations of these pollinators are declining rapidly. To raise awareness around the issue, they developed beeswax crayons, animated videos, storybooks and toys. These products enhance the core values and strengthen the brand image.

As demand in China has grown, Peridot sources its supplies from now 10 women beekeepers in Kenya. That isn’t only boosting their incomes, it also makes beekeeping more popular. Moreover, Peridot has pledged to provide more jobs for women in the coming years to promote a more gender-equal work environment.

Five years after their first collaboration, Peridot and her Chinese counterpart have gradually expanded their cooperation. In 2022, they cooperated with Tmall International to target a wider consumer group, especially those in the cold northern regions of China, by leveraging its cross-border e-commerce platform.


About the project

Irene Mumo is a beneficiary of the International Trade Centre’s “Trade Promotion between China and other Developing Countries along the Belt and Road Initiative” project. ITC uses the China International Import Expo (CIIE) as a platform to promote trade, investment and business partnerships between other developing countries and China. ITC has been an “Official Sponsor” of CIIE since 2019. It organized the participation of around 260 small businesses from more than 30 developing countries, especially least developed countries in 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022. As a result, these companies established more than 1,790 new business contacts and prospective deals worth $55 million for new exports to China.