The world’s largest wig capital – wigs (picture)
Original Liu Qinghua Zhixiang.com
This article has a total of 4296 words and is expected to read 8 minutes /
Because the epidemic cannot go abroad, Hunan native Wang Junyi can only remotely control his wig business in Nigeria, Africa. There are more and more wig wholesalers like him targeting the African market in China.
Wigs, a relatively unfamiliar commodity to Chinese people, export up to more than 3 billion US dollars a year, and have already formed a mature industrial chain. As the world’s largest wig producer, China owns more than 70% of the world’s wig factories, supplying about 80% of the world’s wig demand. Among them, the most famous production places are Qingdao, Shandong and Xuchang, Henan. Xuchang, Henan is also known as the “Wig Capital” in the world, with 5,000 large and small wig companies, and Rebecca, the world’s largest listed wig company.
Combing the process of going overseas and maturing the wig industry chain, we can see the clear context of the self-evolution and self-innovation of the domestic supply chain. From the 1980s to the beginning of this century, most of these factories in Xuchang were foundries of well-known foreign brands. Take the meager foundry fee. After 2008, riding the east wind of cross-border e-commerce, they directly contacted consumers in developed regions such as North America. Through cross-border e-commerce, they transformed themselves into brand owners, and squeezed out Korean-Americans and entered the mainstream market in North America. .
Today, Chinese wigs are saturated in the North American market. When merchants like Wang Junyi enter, they can only explore emerging markets such as Africa. This is a new market with many possibilities.
At the same time, as the domestic GDP per capita exceeds 10,000, consumption has ushered in an upgrade. As a wig, which is as popular with young people as fashion products such as beauty contact lenses, it also ushered in a wave of branding opportunities. After the listed company Rebecca, Many brands have successively obtained financing, and wigs seem to be ushering in the best period of their development.
“The Capital of Wigs”
“Hold your hair~ Grow your hair~” In the vast countryside in the early years, a man could often be heard shouting like this. Where does all this collected hair go? very few people know.
They are likely to flow to Xuchang, Henan, a city with the reputation of the world’s “wig capital”. Data show that my country’s hair products manufacturing and export trade enterprises are mainly concentrated in Henan, Shandong, Hunan, Anhui, and Guangdong provinces, accounting for nearly 90% of the total export volume, of which Henan accounts for about 50% of the country’s total hair product exports.
Looking back on history, Xuchang wig industry has been around for hundreds of years. Starting from the acquisition of raw materials more than a hundred years ago, Xuchang people took scissors to collect their hair, and some black Americans went to the mountains of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan to buy wigs , and collected hair raw materials from all over the country to Xuchang and then sold them to foreign trade. Later, foreign capital set up factories in Xuchang, and the processing links were gradually transferred.
In the “Xuchang County Chronicle”, there is a passage that records the grand occasion of the wig trade: “Before 1982, there were people buying and selling hair on both sides of Quandian Street. There were two or three hundred households engaged in hair trading on the street, and there were also Bristles, horsetails, etc.”
Now, more than 300,000 people in Xuchang are engaged in the wig industry. It is said that every five black people wear a wig on the top of their heads from Xuchang. At its peak, more than 5,000 wig companies of all sizes were opened here. Walking on the streets of Xuchang, casually ask an old man or child, “What is Xuchang most famous for?” Almost no one will tell you that it is a “wig”. Even in the yards of many families, there are piles of wigs like hills waiting to be processed.
In Xuchang, many world-renowned wig companies have been born, and Rebecca is one of them. It occupies 9% of the market share of China’s wig industry, and its products are exported to North America, Africa, Europe and Asia. According to public information, Rebecca has set up 12 wholly-owned subsidiaries overseas and 8 domestic subsidiaries.
However, most companies, including Rebecca, mainly focused on OEM/ODM in the early years, and did not have their own brands. Founder Wu Li introduced that in the past, black Americans had to buy wigs from a special place, and the beauty industry in the United States was basically monopolized by Korean immigrants. These Korean-born bosses usually find Korean traders to place orders, and finally Korean traders find Chinese foundries to produce them.
Therefore, at the beginning of the 21st century, the most profitable sales and trade links in the American wig market were captured by Koreans, and Chinese wig companies were basically OEMs. Chairman Wu Xuezhang introduced that they have successively provided OEM services for 58 brands in the world hair products industry.
In the entire OEM order, the role of the factory is similar to that of a porter. After simple processing and bundling, the raw materials of human hair are processed into semi-finished “file hair”, and then moved to the United States according to the customer’s request. “In the middle, the profit point is not high. It’s just a little processing fee.”
Just when these companies suffered from the monopoly of the terminal sales market by foreign distributors, cross-border e-commerce was born. Wu Li introduced: “The greatest value of cross-border e-commerce is to help us break the Korean monopoly in the United States and cut into the high-profit US market.”
National customs data show that in recent years, the total export value of my country’s hair products has been maintained at a high level of more than 3 billion US dollars. North America and Africa are still the top two export destinations of my country’s wig products, accounting for about 75% of my country’s total hair product exports, of which North America accounts for about 38% and Africa accounts for about 37%.
E-commerce corner overtaking
“No matter which (overseas) e-commerce platform you are looking on, on Amazon, AliExpress, and Alibaba International Station, wigs are a particularly popular category, comparable to the three C digital.” Wang Junyi introduced . According to Taobao platform data, “wigs” have repeatedly become the first place in overseas transactions.
Now, most of the sellers with sales of hundreds of millions on e-commerce platforms are from China.
From traditional OEM foundry to cross-border e-commerce, it is not achieved overnight. Both the platform and the seller put a lot of effort into it.
As early as the end of 2008, Wang Zhanwei, as the head of Alibaba International Station Xuchang, was sent to Xuchang to help traditional foundries such as Rebecca and Ruimei to develop B2B business online, but the progress was very slow. “After a year of hard work, only 5 factories are willing to open stores in the international station.” Wang Zhanwei analyzed after the event. The important reason is that these traditional foundries have already formed a relatively complete customer system and do not need to expand customers through the network. .
Soon after AliExpress opened, he went to lobby these foundries, hoping that they could open stores on AliExpress and help them sell wigs directly to consumers in the United States. However, some foundries were worried that they would lose OEM orders because they would compete with dealers for customers, and they were not very enthusiastic at first.
However, some small family workshops did not have so many concerns and seized the opportunity to obtain the first batch of overseas consumers and dug the first pot of gold. After that, large wig companies have also invested in the blue ocean of cross-border e-commerce. According to statistics, in 2016, the wig turnover of AliExpress platform reached 320 million US dollars, and there were more than 1,500 online wig stores on the platform.
In recent years, more and more wig exports have shifted from offline to online. Xuchang Wig and AliExpress have adopted a new model of cross-border retail e-commerce “going overseas”, and the transaction volume has maintained a rapid growth of more than 400% for two consecutive years. In 2020, AliExpress and Xuchang City, Henan Province established the world’s first cross-border e-commerce live broadcast base.
“The threshold for exporting wigs is actually very high. Not only do you need to be good at English, but you also need to be good at marketing.” Wang Junyi said, “wigs are very display-oriented. You need to be able to take pictures and teach them how to care for them. I’m still learning now. middle.”
Now, European and American e-commerce platforms are crowded with large and small Chinese wig sellers. “It’s really too rolly! It’s difficult for small and medium-sized sellers to eat meat, so I also go to the African market, and the competition is not so great.” Wang Junyi told The Passage.
Africa, the Promised Land?
“When the ship carrying wigs just arrived at the Nigerian port, there was already a huge crowd of local people. When the unloading started, in order to prevent others from competing, some people sat on the container, and more people fought for the goods. The winner carried the goods with pride; the loser wiped the nosebleed from his face and left in a rage.” This is not a snatch of arms and treasure, which was reproduced in a report by “World Net Business”. It is the frenetic chase scene of African people for wigs.
Africans are born with poor hair quality, but it has also spawned their fanatical pursuit of wigs. Wigs are to African women what lipstick is to Chinese girls. No one’s hairstyles are more colorful than African women. A black lady can change three or four hairstyles a week. Today she has curly blond hair, tomorrow she has straight black hair, and the day after tomorrow she has granny gray… In black circles, wigs have even become a symbol of wealth. The price of wigs with good quality can be as high as tens of thousands of RMB. Of course, there are also hair sets for dozens of dollars.
The wig became a veritable “black gold”. And most of these “black gold” come from China. Some people say that African women are proud of having a Rebecca wig.
Africa is the second largest market for Chinese wig exports, after North America. African-Americans in the United States have high spending power and a slightly better quality of life. African-American women have 6-7 sets of wigs per capita, and the average unit price of each set is 100 US dollars. In some African countries, according to Wang Junyi, “per capita consumption may only be 60-70 US dollars per year, and more low-end chemical fiber hair is purchased. A set of chemical fiber wigs is used for about a month, and ten sets are bought a year, so the unit price is basically Six or seven dollars.”
At present, Wang Junyi’s products are mainly placed in countries with relatively convenient international logistics, such as Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Kenya and Uganda. Although it is also an independent station, Wang mainly distributes goods through offline channels and sells goods to local distributors.
“The wig industry is very interesting. You will find that the selection of products online and offline is very different.” Wang Junyi said, “(In Africa) online consumers are still relatively strong in purchasing power. They mainly buy real hair and headgear. Products. Offline consumers mainly buy cheap chemical fiber hair, hair pieces, etc.”
Although Africa’s consumption power is relatively low, the consumer population is huge. And African women are willing to spend money on hairstyles, and the market potential is huge. In recent years, domestic companies have entered, and Rebecca, as mentioned above, has built many factories in Africa.
E-commerce has also brought new opportunities to the African market. Some young Africans who understand the Internet and the local market have started a wig purchasing business. There are also hairdressers in some African hair salons who have also begun to buy Chinese wigs from AliExpress to sell to customers.
There are reports that black Americans buy wigs . Monse Lase from the Democratic Republic of Congo is an international student at Zhejiang University of Technology. She often travels between Guangzhou and Hangzhou to buy wigs. She founded her own wig brand on social media. After three months of selling it, she earned 2,000 A lot of dollars to solve the tuition and living expenses.
In 2018, when Liberian President Weah came to China to participate in the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, he also made a special trip to Xuchang to seek cooperation with a wig factory.
According to the Xuchang Commerce Bureau, Xuchang wig companies have more than 120 wholesale and retail stores in South Africa and more than 200 in Nigeria, directly and indirectly driving more than 300,000 Africans to employment.
Currently, Africa is the second largest consumer market for hair products in the world. Some experts said that with a population of more than 700 million Africans, with the improvement of the living standards of local residents, Africa is expected to replace North America as the world’s largest wig consumer market.
New domestic opportunities
“On the 1688 website, when you consult the sellers, they are often ignorant and the prices are high. But the sellers on the Alibaba International website are very enthusiastic and the prices are cheap,” Wang Junyi told The Passage. He further explained that there is not much competition in the domestic market, and some sellers may just set up a store on 1688 (Alibaba Wholesale Network).
In China, the wig market has been tepid. However, with the increasing number of people with hair loss in recent years, the wig industry has begun to receive new attention.
According to data from the Head Leopard Research Institute, in 2020, the total number of people with hair loss in China will reach 252 million, of which men account for 65.08%. Moreover, the hair loss population is showing a younger trend, and the post-90s hair loss population accounts for nearly 70%. Hair loss has also become one of the top ten health problems most troubled by the nation.
According to the “Interesting White Paper on Saving Hair Loss” jointly released by Alibaba Data and Alibaba Health, among consumers who purchase hair transplant and hair care products on Alibaba’s retail platform, the post-90s generation is about to overtake the post-80s generation.
Like the maintenance and hair transplant industries, the wig market has also ushered in new demands, and has even become a fashion item in the eyes of consumers.
In addition to the rigid demand brought about by the problem of hair loss, some young women have begun to pursue fashionable wigs, such as colored springs, bangs, etc.
The capital market is also smelling it. In the past two years, Lucy Lee, a wig brand that focuses on young women, and Angry Zebra have completed three financings in succession.
In November 2021, LUCY LEE officially announced that Ju Jingyi was the first brand spokesperson, and was highly sought after by young girls. At present, its product line includes wigs, fake bangs, hair pads, fake ponytails, fake ball heads, and care liquids.
Even traditional wig giants like Rebecca are moving closer to new demands. The relevant person in charge said in an interview before: “Rebecca will release popular hair colors every season, and the main application of the new hair color is hanging ear-dyed clip hair, which makes it more convenient for consumers to use, and can be used in popular hair colors. There are more choices.” In order to seize the wave of rejuvenation of wig users in China, Rebecca created a sub-brand Youth.
This wig company, which was listed in 2003, hopes to be at the forefront of this wave of domestic consumption opportunities.
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