By Karen Zhang Nov 22, 2021
The rapid adoption of digital technologies has forever changed what it’s like to shop as more consumers – particularly millennials and Gen Z – go online to learn about and buy new products. This transformational shift is on full display in China, where a young, affluent, and increasingly tech-savvy population is turning towards high-quality products and fueling domestic consumption upgrades.
In tandem with high mobile internet penetration rates and the burgeoning influence of digital content platforms, these trends, which we believe will stay for the long term, have led to a new wave of homegrown champions optimized for the digital economy. This was one of the reasons why we launched our Asia Next Generation Technology (Asia NGT) strategy, to capitalize on these attractive tech-focused investment opportunities in China and across the region.
Our dedicated Asia NGT team is focused on the innovative, disruptive companies that are successfully using tech across our key themes, including consumer goods, digital media, enterprise software, and FinTech. We want to help these companies achieve their full potential to become regional and global industry leaders by leveraging KKR’s track record and deep market relationships in Asia, our operational expertise and global experience and networks.
Our most recent Asia NGT investment was behind moody, one of China’s fastest growing colored contact lens companies. KKR research found that the colored contact lens market accounts for the majority of China’s total contact lens sales, and that this multi-billion market is expected to continue growing rapidly, driven by millennial and Gen-Z consumers. According to Tmall, one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China, sales of colored contact lens grew by 84% in the first half of 2021 alone.
Founded in late 2019, moody is a direct-to-consumer brand that offers 34 different color patterns of contact lenses that are sold on all major e-commerce platforms in China. Despite its young history, the company has stood out in a highly competitive market by using real-time analytics to deliver trendy and high-quality products that appeal to Chinese consumers. In less than 18 months, moody has already become the top-selling colored contact lens brand on Tmall and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok and which are among the largest and the fastest-growing e-commerce platforms in China.
moody has been able to quickly gain market share1 and gain loyal followers by leveraging its customized marketing tech platform to analyze data, customer purchasing patterns and other sales information and facilitate product development and branding activities. This has enabled moody to better anticipate customer trends and needs, and tailor its product and marketing strategies to meet them. This includes being able to use its e-commerce marketing and key opinion leaders more aggressively and efficiently by tapping into TikTok, Kuaishou, WeChat and other engaging social media platforms.
By offering stylish products and a high-quality online shopping experience, moody has successfully captured the imagination and unmet-and-fast-emerging demand of Chinese consumers, building a strong brand in the process.
We look forward to supporting moody’s incredibly energetic and talented team on a number of strategic initiatives. As we work together, we will leverage our global experience supporting leading eyewear retailers and our deep experience investing in China and tech-focused businesses globally. Optical companies that KKR has invested in include Lenskart, National Vision and 1-800 Contacts.
We established our Asia NGT strategy to help moody and other industry-leading tech-enabled companies achieve greater success whilst meeting consumer needs and contributing to the region’s economic growth. Since 2019, KKR has made ten investments through its Asia NGT strategy, including several in China – Adopt A Cow, a fast-growing, direct-to-consumer dairy company that integrates digital solutions into its core operations; Walnut Programming, a junior programming education company; Huohua Logic, a leading online education platform specializing in logical thinking and science for children; and Xingsheng Youxuan, a leading community-based group ecommerce company.