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cover person | chen zebin: digitalization rebuilt liby
2020-06-18 10:36:47

originated from business circles

it is only 15km from guangzhou development building at lujing road to liby center at luju road and it takes about 20min by car, but liby spent 26 years on this journey.

26 years ago, chen kaixuan from chaoshan without money and workshop established guangzhou liby washing products co., ltd. in guangzhou, where p&g china was headquartered, by virtue of the original oem mode. from a bag of washing powder to a leading daily chemical enterprise with annual sales above 20 billion yuan and taxes above 1.5 billion yuan, liby led native brands to lift up half of the chinese cleaning industry. reviewing the past 26 years, native brands that enjoyed popularity for a time such as maxam, panda, mininurse and tjoy have vanished and liby, a “mom” old brand, not only survived but also grew younger. the 26-year-old liby grew increasingly younger and fashionable. 

liby was overturning and restructuring itself in the past decade. the entire business ecosystem from redesigning image, repositioning products to rebuilding marketing pattern and organizational structure was revolving and liby that grew out of a traditional enterprise has taken into a new shape preliminarily.

it is today's president of liby group chen zebin who is the impeller and the brain of the “revolutionary” reform of liby group.

2020 is the tenth year after chen zebin entered liby. a sword is sharpened in 10 years. he grew and changed together with liby group.


final test


“everyone, disinfection products valued 200 million yuan have been delivered up to now. thank you for your effort and pain against time.”


at 14:00pm on march 15, chen zebin received a message from the logistics end with a whirlpool of emotion. an unexpected epidemic swept china at the beginning of 2020.

as china’s largest manufacturer of disinfection products, liby group “naturally” should do something to fight the epidemic: donating disinfection products valued 200 million yuan and delivering them to all designated hospitals across the country.

though making a commitment, chen zebin felt upset about how to ensure the donation need and timely deliver materials to the designated hospitals under nationwide road closure and production halt?

facts proved that it was much harder to fulfill the commitment.

the epidemic broke out during the spring festival, a chinese traditional festival, when workers were taking a holiday, raw materials were undersupply and production line had inadequate capacity, it was difficult to produce 33 types of 10000t disinfection products within a short time. what’s more, almost all transport lines were closed, so the biggest handicap was to deliver the disinfection materials to more than 2000 designated hospitals in 363 cities.

finally, liby group made it.

with 24h production and distribution, more than 10000t disinfection products valued 200 million yuan were delivered to more than 2000 designated hospitals in 363 cities using more than 1000 transport vehicles and more than 1000 drivers with a load distance of 400,000km, 5 days prior to the time agreed with red cross society of china.

chen zebin attributed it to unremitting endeavor of 10000 employees and 680 brand service providers of liby group.

as a matter of fact, the digital operation management system built under the leadership of chen zebin played a critical role in fighting the epidemic.

on february 3, liby group realized telecommuting among all employees of r&d, purchasing, production, logistics, marketing, finance and hr and even brand service providers all over the country using remote mobile office platform “dudu”.

up to february 10, liby group have called more than 3000 voice conferences, more than 1000 video conferences average per day through “cloud office” mode combining telecommuting and site office. a total of nearly 50 projects collaborated remotely, nearly 2000 salesmen contacted each other online and more than 3000 employees submitted daily work reports……it was only an internal production management process of the donation.

affected by the epidemic, the spring purchasing meetings between liby group and all dealers were called online. most enterprises were challenged production and sale, but liby not only kept sales but also achieved the expected sales target by “dudu” office system.

“the epidemic was a surprise test on our digitalization transformation. in general, liby group did a good and even great job.”

the meritorious digitalization system was only a part of the overall strategic layout initiated by chen zebin. after the access to liby group in 2010, chen zebin did not have a high-key start but worked as a group leader in the market department.

chen zebin worked in almost all front-end departments such as market, brand and marketing within ten years and gradually grew out of a newbie into an old hand with overall development strategy of liby group clearly imprinted in his mind: responding to rapidly changing user needs and fierce market competition and triggering three battles-digitalization transformation, accurate marketing and product upgrading. 


digital transformation: kept up with the times


the whole commercial community is driven forward by the tide of digitalization presently.

in 2018, 67% of global top 1000 enterprises and 50% of chinese top 1000 enterprises regarded digitalization transformation as the core strategy.

chen zebin was clearly aware of it: informatization, digitalization and intelligence are the trend that manufacturing enterprises must embrace and liby, a traditional domestic brand, had to reflect on faster and more efficient transformation.

in chen zebin’s viewpoint, upgrading all business models is to upgrade consumer on-link mode in fact. liby group would be better connected to consumers, carry out delicacy management and run through the consumer need-oriented whole value chain through digitalization transformation.

in fact, chen zebin carried out digitalization transformation consciously early in 2015, but “marketing digitalization 3.0 project” was proposed until 2018.

chen zebin upgraded the it department to “digital intelligent center” and started to build a modern new enterprise featured by industry interconnection, organization ecologicalization and business digitalization based on core businesses of liby group.

nevertheless, liby group that grew out of a traditional manufacturer of cleaning products can neither accomplish digitalization transformation in an action nor get effect instantly due to increasing external doubts and internal contradictions.

difficulties occurred as expected. chen zebin knew that enterprise reform needed resoluteness and continuous innovation. he sought cooperation with alibaba and called it a “group-to-group” battle. 

in the coming years, they cooperated in a series of modules such as cainiao, tmall, dingtalk and alimama entertainment platform. the “dudu” office system that contributed a lot to fighting the epidemic was a phased outcome of the cooperation between liby and dingtalk.

on january 3, 2019, chen zebin rushed to the conference room of alibaba for biological hemopoiesis immediately after landing in hangzhou. 

in 2019, three years after the emergence of new retail, alibaba business operating system emerged and “a100 plan” was launched, which offered one-stop solution to enterprises reaching a strategic partnership with alibaba and accelerated their digitalization transformation. chen zebin intended to realize transformation and rebuild the relationship with consumers by virtue of alibaba business operating system and digitization capacity.


“a100 plan” facilitated with digitalization transformation of liby group, focused on product, marketing, consumer and organization, got through all key nodes and fulfill data engergization to break through the whole value chain and achieve digitalization.

liby group can master consumer need and rhythm of new product launch more accurately through alibaba big data analysis and small sample survey. the incubation period of new product decreased from 1-2 years on average to about 9 months and the failure rate also decreased sharply.

in spite of a small online sales size among the omni-channel sales of 20 billion yuan, the compound annual growth rate of cleaning and care products in tmall exceeded 50% in the past three years and the growth rate of subcategories exceeded 100%. chen zebin expected a large growth space of the sales size of online channels.

the cooperation with alibaba was only a step of digital new retail of liby group and chen zebin has optimized the organizational chart for it. “traditional enterprises face more than external competition but internal challenge. enterprises are challenged in organizational chart as well as culture, way of doing things and thinking habit.”

an interesting thing happened. an employee of liby showed the dining hall on zhihu in april, 2018 and updated a post in june that the dining hall changed to the office of it engineers, which indicated the determination of digitalization transformation.

after the epidemic, digitalization of liby grew out of an air-castle concept into a real tool. the experienced digitalization infiltrates into all cells of the organization and becomes increasingly anticipating.


product upgrade: linked to consumers in an all-around way


presently, liby group has 9 production bases producing products for fabric cleaning, tableware cleaning, hair care, personal care and oral care.

as new categories emerged in recent years, liby had an increasingly stronger sense of crisis arising from the ever-changing consumer market and the increasingly younger consumer group.

nowadays, the generation after 90s and even 95s is the main force of consumption and their consumer demand tends to be individualized. young consumers accept new brands and new products easier. besides, they prefer to pay for resonant brands and facial attractiveness and brand story of products have a great influence on their purchasing behavior.

specific to the general trend of consumption grading, almost all brands racked their brains to cater consumers and goods shelves in the daily chemical area of supermarkets are full of products titled “decontamination”, “sterilization”, “disinfection”, “nanometer” and “skin-friendly”.

since 2003, liby group has altered large and all-inclusive product positioning and carried out brand optimization and new product development specific to market segment and target customer.

in 2014, liby group renamed “quziba”, a high-end cleaning and care brand of it, “kispa” and the sales volume of “kispa” doubled based on empathy with consumers.

in 2019, logo and package of liby turned more concise and fashionable and consistent with young people’s need for good-looking design.

liby group launched numerous brands specific to segmented market. for example, miss series for cleaning and care of women’s underwear, edible liby fruit vinegar cleanser essence, liby little white for cleaning and care of shoes, liby detergent essence for cleaning and care of high-end clothing and super concentrated detergent gel occupied a high position in the market, among which liby detergent gel generated a sale leading the industry in 2019.

detergent gel is a kind of concentrated laundry detergent which not only features high active matter content and strong cleansing power, but also reduces the cost of package, storage and display. besides, it is an environment-friendly product which is easy to carry during a short trip and can save water, reduce environmental pollution and realize energy conservation and emission reduction.

in europe and america, the sales volume of detergent gel increased by about 35% during 2011 to 2012 and soared to 110% during 2012 to 2013. in 2014, this product was used in more than 30 million european households and generated sales of 1.4 billion with a geometric growth trend.

“concentrated cleaning products are bound to the future trend, at least one of future trends.” chen zebin predicted a fast growth of detergent gel in the chinese market in the coming 3-5 years.

however, it was not liby but brands subordinate to foreign-owned enterprises that introduced detergent gel into china.

chen zebin found from market survey that a detergent gel introduced from abroad was often 30g and a gel can be used to clean many clothes, which was not consistent with chinese’s laundry habit, resulted in waste easily. besides, it can hardly attract young consumers who were curious about new things due to dull appearance.

in june, 2018, liby launched detergent gel “xinxinzhu” detergent gel, which was a concentrated detergent for machine wash with active matter content above 45%, far beyond that of ordinary detergents. moreover, 15g and 8g gels better complied with chinese’s laundry habit.

to attract young consumers, “xinxinzhu” was developed in product form to visual design and marketing mode to comply with the young and fashionable trend. a lot of tries was made only in appearance molding, including cute puppy gel, cathead gel, cat claw gel, heart-shaped gel and xinxinzhu. finally, the distinctive xinxinzhu was successfully developed.

to better touch young female consumers, liby also engaged nine percent, a domestic popular male idol group, as the product spokesperson. the girlish modeling plus the life concept and sweet and warm interaction with the idol group added value to loving design of xinxinzhu. in spite of a high price (2.1 yuan/gel), it was still strongly touted by young female consumers.

facing the constantly changing market, liby group constantly put forth new ideas by virtue of strong independent r&d ability and had patents for invention more than the total of top 2-5 domestic peers. liby built up a fortune with only one product-liby washing powder 26 years ago. now it has developed hundreds of products.

to accelerate r&d, launching products specific to consumers at different levels is still a topic that chen zebin should keep pondering.


accurate marketing: got close to target audience


when the fourth season of singer hit hunan satellite tv in 2016, audiences were surprised to find that the title sponsor was no longer liby liquid soap. audience’s concern about the title sponsor indicated that the title sponsor of the previous three seasons has successfully implanted the brand image to their mind.

in 2013, being the title sponsor of the first season of singer should be the first big event which chen zebin got involved in after the access to liby group. by “liby singer, i’m laundry detergent”, liby successfully opened up a new entertainment marketing pattern of chinese television. being the title sponsor of singer for consecutive three years, the “microcosm” of entertainment marketing broke out and cross-border innovation was conducted again and again. insiders even spoke boldly “entertainment is the mark of marketing”.

in 2014, “quziba”, a high-end cleaning and care brand subordinate to liby group, was renamed “kispa”.

in chinese’s traditional view, women have been defined as “housewife” or “the better half” and they were consumers of many family-oriented products.

chen zebin did exactly the opposite. over the years, chinese family ties changed quietly, men got more involved in homework and men had an increasingly closer relationship with household cleaning products. however, kispa can offer a higher sense of safety to families.

aware of it, liby group transformed marketing strategy boldly through renaming the original brand “kispa”, advocating high-quality parent-child companion, which closed the gap from consumers emotionally.

in terms of marketing method, chen zebin sponsored the second season of dad, where are we going and engaged huang lei as the image spokesperson of kispa. the hit of dad, where are we going aroused a heated discussion about loss of a good father and consequently huang lei set up a model for a versatile good father.

the sales of “kispa” doubled through such powerful emotion entertainment marketing.

in the summer of 2017, liby group sponsored chinese restaurant of hunan satellite tv, which derived a self-made new ip-mobile chinese restaurant, an extra chapter of chinese restaurant.

as a mystery guest of mobile chinese restaurant, chen zebin led audiences to visit the recreational vehicle and passed on the concept “safety” of liby products.

although each episode of mobile chinese restaurant lasted only three minutes, more than 50 million view counts were acquired from mainstream media and microblog by ten episodes and exposure exceeded 250 million, wining both flow and public praise.

now consumers acquire information from various channels, so traditional mainstream media can no longer catch up with the pace of modern consumers.

on september 29, 2017, liby and brand spokesman huang xiaoming carried out live marketing together with shanghai disney resort, which not only cooperated with stars and ip resources, but also took in fans of chinese restaurant and mobile chinese restaurant, gathered all audiences of the brand and maintained their liveness through distributing benefits during the live. with millions of view counts in 24h, liby tmall flagship store generated a sale three times that in ordinary days, breaking the obstacle of the period of slack sales before the national day holidays and bringing plenty of flow reserves to festival consumption.


braved the wind: attained development potential


age is the biggest storm, it is trend and power. live sale prevailed after the epidemic.

on may 19, ouyang nana landed li jiaqi’s live broadcast room and attracted more than 10 million views, topping the most searched hashtags of microblog that night.

it was the first time ouyang nana sold goods online as the spokesman of liby “liuxiangzhu”. the live titled “liby detergent gel, a gel creates a clean environment” generated the best seller among stores, the highest sales of a single product, the top search of microblog and the best live of stores.

actually, chen zebin endorsed liby detergent gel online personally.

on april 21, kol wolf dog couple with 30 million fans released an interesting video on tik tok, in which zheng jianpeng was driven out by him wife to raise “pigs” because they could not collect the rent. chen zebin appeared in their live broadcast room: “i’m advertising, since liby will raise ‘detergent gel’.”

immediately, liby harvested videos and fans flow of kol. the view count reached 2 million, including 1.46 million of sound wave. the president sold goods online calmly.

only after a week, liby launched a national task on tik tok, a finger dance titled “a gel creates a clean environment”. from kol to koc, the magic brainwashing music filled your brain with “you can did it with a gel……” and you could not help dancing with music. children, the aged, families and even people raising cats and dogs got involved. in the activity, top star ouyang nana pushed brand exposure of liby to a new high. 

in fact, whether the president’s raising “gel” plan, the finger dance or “li jiaqi ouyang nana” live, hundreds of millions of view counts helped sell out liuxiangzhu instantly and generated a sale above 5.6 million yuan per hour.

chen zebin perfectly combined voice capturing of tik tok and sales conversion through a gel. if tik tok was “product” and taomao is “sale”, chen zebin perfectly “combined product and sale”.

the role of digitalization marketing was further highlighted after the epidemic. people may say, isn’t online advertising? haven’t we done it?

it was absolutely not so simple for chen zebin: “digitalization marketing refers to whole-process digitalization of marketing and we must “combine product and sale”. it is more than online advertising but a complex and complete product.”

we called microblog and wechat new media in 2015, but many enterprises have never updated their official micro-blog by 2020. nowadays, tik tok is a better choice to make topics and stir up things and taobao is the most efficient sales harvester.

liby, a great domestic brand, has been printed with “mom” product. while launching a new product, it made a live on tik tok and taobao and focused on target consumers. by planting on tik tok and reaping on taobao, liby perfectly went through the whole process of digitalization marketing.

liby group has undergone four stages, small washing, big washing, big daily chemical and brand new strategic development.

consumer witnessed the constantly replaced new products of liby group. liby group has grown to a modern innovative daily chemical enterprise out of an ordinary cleaning product manufacturer.

however, we witnessed an enterprise created by the age and two generations of leaders in different styles. each age has its own characteristics.

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