Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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The view over Haikou from my 30th floor room at The Langham offers a marvellous snapshot of the Hainan capital’s multiple characters, nature and urbanization combined.
To my left is the South China Sea, dotted with cargo ships moored in the bay. An inlet feeds into the lovely greenery of Evergreen Park while in the distance the magnificent Haikou Century Bridge offers a statuesque, 2683 metre-long testimony to the city’s rapid development during the 95th Five-Year Plan. At night, lit up, it is sublimely beautiful.
I’m on a whistlestop visit to Hainan, not this time to visit the duty free stores but to attend a landmark event hosted by powerful government-owned Hainan Daily Newspaper Group and receive an important honour. I also took the oppoortunity to catch up with my new Hainan team in our recently set-up office and to conduct a brilliantly stimulating interview. More of that in a moment.
On Thursday I was appointed to a new multi-industry think tank in Haikou designed to drive the development of the island province’s Free Trade Port programme and its economic and social growth in coming years.
South Land Think Tank (SLTT), dubbed the ‘Wisdom Tank’ has been created by government-owned Hainan Daily Newspaper Group, the province’s leading media and communications group. The programme focuses on an ‘8+1’ concept – eight different research centres (one dedicated to tourism and offshore duty free, hence my involvement) plus a studio.
The group yesterday hosted a conference and launch ceremony, where I and other members of the think tank were formally appointed on stage. I am not sure I have much wisdom left in my aging tank but it was a proud moment and a nice recognition of all the work we have put in over recent years in bringing Hainan to the world and the world to Hainan.
It wasn’t our only proud moment. Additionally, Zhang Yimei, The Moodie Davitt Report’s Hainan-based Chief China Representative, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hainan Daily Newspaper Group for continued strategic cooperation between the two organisations.
We’ve had a terrific relationship with the group for several years, them helping us with local content and film, us providing international perspective, content and exposure.
The emcee of the event was Friday’s event was none other than my good friend and colleague, Lu Tianqin (pictured at the podium), Chief TV Host of the group’s Hinews.cn Media and Head of ‘Duty-Free Livestream’ – the company’s highly influential programme dedicated solely to the offshore duty free sector. Tianqin is a superstar here, fronting numerous events and feted for her professionalism and flair, but she as warm, gracious and down to earth an individual as you could care to meet.
I had dinner with Tianqin, Yimei and FIYTA International Business General Manager Jobs Wang, the man driving the impressive duty free channel growth of the brand known affectionately as ‘The Chine Space Watch’. Fiyta has been providing auxiliary timepieces to Chinese manned spaceflights since 2003 and equipped the astronauts who completed China’s first manned space flight mission in the Shenzhou VII Spacecraft.
At Tianqin’s insistence we dined at a local restaurant specialising in coconut chicken and the freshness and flavour of the food in a pleasantly casual setting was just what was required after a long day. The conversation was excellent too, leaving me in no doubt about the almost majestic ambition that underpins Hainan’s development.
Yesterday I headed back to the office that Bluebell has kindly allowed us to co-locate with them in the Windows to Global Trade building. There I had the great pleasure of meeting and interviewing Helena Sampson, Senior Vice President of International at Malin+Goetz, surely one of the beauty sector’s most fascinating brand stories.
Bluebell and its partner in the China local market Star Brands Asia are helping drive an encouraging growth for the brand, including an emerging presence in Hainan.
The company was founded in New York City in 2004 by Matthew Malin + Andrew Goetz (pictured below) who set out on what would become a hugely successful journey to uncomplicate skincare, thanks partly to the limited shelf space in their small New York apartment.
Their philosophy – one I think is perfectly attuned to post-pandemic times – is anchored by a ‘less but better way of life’ with its formulas and products designed to deliver more benefits with fewer steps. “Less steps in your routine, less packaging + less waste. It’s uncomplicated,” runs the company mantra.
“I would say ‘uncomplicated’ but also ‘uncompromising’,” Helena told me as we chatted about the brand and its ambitions for travel retail over coffee.
“I think the premise of that brand is that it is uncomplicated. It’s about stripping back this whole plethora of bathroom cabinet products, because there’s only so much your skin and your life needs. And what attracted me to the brand is that our customer is someone who is not a beauty junkie, per se, they actually want to really experience life.”
It’s a pared-down regimen that continues to win new advocates all around the world. Including in Macau, where I noted a week earlier that Malin+Goetz held pride of place in the Clean Beauty Pop Up Store at T Galleria by DFS, Galaxy Macau – the first green store within the travel retailer’s network and a key component of the Explore New Dimensions beauty campaign.
Helena, a (youthful) veteran of the beauty business is a wonderfully engaging, intelligent and thoughtful woman, as you will see in the interview I shall publish in coming weeks. “I’ve always said the headline should be ‘Malin+Goetz – difficult to pronounce, easy to use’, Helen said with a chuckle. Hmm, I might just have my interview title written already.