Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo's show on Netflix became a worldwide hit. It also helped spark a boom in demand for storage that helped Lin Limin, a soldier-turned-entrepreneur who believes tidying up can bring people joy.
Lin used to sell various plastic products in Taizhou in Zhejiang province. This city produces 70 percent of China's plastic products. He ventured into the home organization business in 2016, when Japanese home management concepts began to attract followers in China. Lin founded his brand, Younai Home, to focus on storage cabinets after noticing that those that can fit various nooks and crannies sold better than other plastic products.
Younai has targeted online sales since its inception and made its debut on Pinduoduo in 2017. Today, the brand has grown into one of the largest home organization brands on the platform, with monthly sales of nearly 10 million yuan ($1.5 million).
"Neatness and convenience are universal needs," said Lin. "Clutter storage is an emerging thing in China. Although foreign brands are good, they do not necessarily understand local needs."
China's home organization market may reach more than 100 billion yuan in sales this year, quadrupling from 2017, IBG Management Consulting has forecast.
In September this year, it started to work with Pinduoduo's New Brand initiative, a program designed to help China's homegrown brands expand faster by using the e-commerce company's market insights. After joining the initiative, Lin said he could pinpoint customer needs precisely and quickly customize products to solve customers' pain points.
In one instance, Younai learned from feedback from Pinduoduo that many consumers had complained about the drawers falling off a cabinet by a certain home storage brand. Younai quickly designed a model with a front-end latch and back-end slot, which prevented the drawers from falling off.
In another example, Younai developed a batch of large-size drawer cabinets specifically for customers from lower-tier cities and rural areas. While this may seem like a small adjustment in size, it allowed the decluttering culture to take off in the rural market. It didn't take long for the sales of these nonstandard drawer cabinets to catch up with the standard models. They helped Younai Home become the most popular brand in Pinduoduo's home organization category.
Younai took these so-called "crevice cabinets" to the extreme, developing models that differed in measurement by the centimeter. The designers have also applied their creativity to the products, designing one cabinet with a built-in rice container.
"No matter how cramped the user's home is, Younai has a cabinet to fit your need," Lin said.
Besides innovating its products, Lin has been preaching home organization culture to let more people know that decluttering could improve the quality of life and happiness. He sends employees to Japan every year to learn the latest advanced concepts in home organization, and asked the livestreaming hosts promoting his products to explain storage culture to the audience.
"Taizhou's strong plastic mold industry is my backing, and Pinduoduo's New Brand initiative allows me to see user needs more clearly and gives me the confidence to invest in molds," said Lin. "I am sure Younai can make the finest products and establish a reputable brand."