Chinese Lifestyle Brand Platform Onion Global Debuts on NYSE

Onion Global is the tenth-largest lifestyle brand platform in China. (Source: Onion Global)

Known as the first Chinese e-commerce platform for lifestyle brands, Onion Global on May 7 formally went public at the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “OG”, offering 12.5 million American depository shares (ADS) and achieving the maximum increase of more than 57%.

Onion Global is a next-generation lifestyle brand platform that incubates, markets and distributes the world’s fresh, fashionable and future brands to young people, with a unique and innovative business model that leverages key opinion consumers (KOC) representing a total of nearly 700,000 social media accounts.

The firm, founded in 2015, currently works with over 4,000 brands across 43 countries and regions through various partners and KOCs. “Our company is positioned as a global brand asset management group,” He Shan, CFO of Onion Global said at the listing ceremony.

The prospectus demonstrates that for 2020, the group recorded annual revenue of over 3.8 billion yuan ($591 million), with net profits in excess of 200 million yuan ($31 million), more than double that of 2019. The international e-commerce platform had completed five separate rounds of financing by the time of going public.

A report from China Investment Corp shows that according to its total revenue in 2019, Onion Global is the tenth-largest lifestyle brand platform in the country. According to the firm’s gross merchandise value generated by online cross-border retail in 2019, it places fifth among about 30 similar platforms providing import and export business for quality life brands in China.

Over recent years, the rise of new consumption patterns has become one of the hot spots across capital markets. China’s city dwellers aged between 18 and 35 have become the most influential consumers within China’s lifestyle brands market. Onion Global’s brand management mode for this specific consumer group is expected to reshape customer behavior and lead the consumption trend of quality life products.

“The reason why we chose to recruit KOCs to sell goods at the beginning was that I noticed the existence of freelance retail consultants. When the cross-border e-commerce industry had not yet taken shape, they had strong selling skills and solid customer group, so we wanted to explore how to help them operate more effectively without hoarding goods,” He Shan said in an interview with National Business Daily.

The ability of the KOCs to talk directly to consumers has allowed Onion Global’s brand management team to always be one step ahead of market trends in order to meet the expectations of the young generation of consumers.

Onion Global is focusing its future development on the urban markets of third and fourth-tier cities, with the help of its social e-commerce model.

Pan Jianyue, CMO of Onion Global, said in 2019 that the company enjoys the advantage of integrating cross-border e-commerce and social e-commerce, which could empower its brands with high growth potential in less developed cities through social media. More than 4,000 brands that Onion Global currently cooperates with are mainly second-tier brands and niche trendy brands.

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However, it is uncertain for the firm to rely merely on their unique model to stand out in cross-border e-commerce, which is likely to become crowded with other e-commerce giants in the future. According to a report released by Analysys, in the fourth quarter of 2020, the international market share of Tmall, Kaola and JD.com was 37.2%, 27.5% and 14.3%, respectively.