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    Partners for a Dime: Unusual Pairings of Chinese Brands

    From spicy duck-flavored lipstick to boozy perfume, businesses are thinking outside their brands to attract more consumers.
    Sep 26, 2018#business

    Milk-flavored lip balm, anyone? For Chinese consumers, the answer was a resounding “Yes.”

    Peculiar products are increasingly capturing consumers’ imaginations as food products and cosmetic brands continue to join in unlikely matrimony. The latest collaboration to sweep the shelves was between an iconic candy brand, White Rabbit, and its equally well-known cosmetics counterpart, Maxam.

    Last week, the lip balm — flavored like White Rabbit’s famous milk candy and decked out in its signature red, white, and blue wrapper ­— captured the attentions of consumers looking to combine childhood nostalgia with their cosmetic preferences. The first available batch contained 920 lip balm tubes — priced at 78 yuan ($11) a pair — and sold out in half a second on the e-commerce platform Tmall. The next batch is expected to be available around the end of October.

    Businesses are getting onboard with creative, and sometimes downright wacky, products in a bid to win over young consumers exposed to limitless commercial options. Some companies have also used the strategy to promote “Made in China” merchandise. The Lao Gan Ma hoodie is a case in point: The face of a signature Chinese sauce, when coupled with a clothing brand, became a style icon during the New York Fashion Week earlier this month.

    As some of these bizarre products become a litmus test for businesses to examine new consumer tastes, we look at some of the dynamic duos that have spiced up the market — and raised a few eyebrows.

    Spicy Duck Neck and Lipstick

    Braised duck is a quintessential Chinese delicacy — but now, it’s also a lipstick flavor. In May, the Hong Kong-listed Zhou Hei Ya braised duck brand partnered with mask manufacturer UNIFON. The result was something that consumers may or may not have even asked for — spicy lipstick.

    Baijiu and Perfume

    Many around the world know baijiu as the potent Chinese alcohol with quite the aftertaste. But one of the most famous liquor producers, Luzhou Laojiao, gave baijiu a new bottle — this time, for perfume. In August last year, the company turned the intoxicating spirit into a limited-edition perfume, though the product only received mass attention in February. Priced at 139 yuan, the 30-milliliter bottles quickly ran out of stock. And as many online wondered if the scent of alcohol could get them into trouble, it’s worth noting that the perfume smells of flowers, not the drink itself.

    Cocktails and Mosquito Repellent 

    A ready-to-drink cocktail mix company concocted a new summer drink in July, but you wouldn’t be wrong to wonder if it was made with mosquitos in mind, given its bug-repellent packaging. Liushen Florida Water — known for its formidable strength against insects — and cocktail manufacturer Rio joined forces and proved so popular that it’s limited release of 5,000 bottles sold out in 17 minutes on Tmall. The company was so committed to the concept that it even promoted its cocktails as “Florida Water-flavored.” The drinks, of course, were minty and not equipped to repel mosquitos.

    Cooking Oil and Makeup Remover

    Cooking oil is often associated with grease and fat, but one leading Chinese brand turned it into a beauty product. In July, the Fu Lin Men cooking oil brand introduced its makeup removal line, which has contains cleaning qualities found in other makeup removal brands. One limited-edition 100 milliliter bottle is priced at 119 yuan, and if you’re lucky, you might still be able to find it on the market.

    Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

    (Header image: A photo-collage shows hybrid products born from cooperations between cosmetic and food brands. From