The Chinese market is a gold mine when it comes to cosmetics. It’s the second biggest market in the world with €23 billion in size. However only a few firm knows how to lead it. In the meantime, the e-business in China is growing really fast. It’s a 26% growth last year and €203 billion. It is particularly due to countryside towns that are developing faster than Beijing or Shanghai. In fact, in those cities, real stores are a bit more difficult to launch especially for small business. However, it’s there that half of the e-commerce sales are done with only one online store, you can already contact a huge amount of potential customers.
So what do company have to do to be successful on the Chinese cosmetics market ?
1. The price and the discount are vital
Chinese clients buy online for one main reason : the price. They need to have the impression to make a deal. If not, they will just buy at the regular store. Therefore, the shop prices and the on line prices should be different. Moreover, special offers are very important. If you make special offers, it should be highlighted, clear and be blindingly obvious.
For example, L’Oréal and Herborist (two main competitors in the cosmetics sector) have both a very good design and information but Herborist realized only 4% of L’Oréal sales because they don’t make any discount on their products.
2. Clear informations are needed
Chinese customers don’t like to waste their time when buying online. They want to get straight to the point. Browsing all the website to find what they need is a loss of time and it won’t get you orders. Unnecessary message are useful and it is important for e-commerce in China to have a clear design for your on line store so that they can directly see the product you have, their prices and their features.
3. A selection has to be made
Most of the Chinese customers know what they want when they buy cosmetics online. They have either already tried it or checked the online comments and advises posted on blogs and microblogging platforms. Therefore, they would rather be able to select what they want thanks to different categories like the effect or the type of the product, the skin they have, the price and so on
4. Fraud is everywhere
To give an exemple, if you type “L’Oréal, Taobao, official shop”, the first two results are not their real stores. Counterfeiting is really common in China and even more so on the Internet. Brands have to be careful of those fake store with fake goods most of the time.
5. The importance of the e-reputation
To attract Chinese cosmetics users and most importantly keep them, you need to have a good image. You can use different ways to insure that. Those users are really concerned about what they put on their skin so before buying a specific brand, they will look online to search for information before finally buying it. As a consequence, you need to get your products visible on trustworthy media which will give a very good impression. We call it e-PR. Moreover, girls visit, comment and discuss on SNS website about the new products they buy. The experience of certain can influence others’ decision. Thus, social networks are the most influential source of information for Chinese.
If you need to be known really quickly, resorting to buzz can be very useful. Information is spreading very very fast on the Chinese Internet and it is important to let your target knows that you exist and propose products that might be interesting for them and this before other brands do.
Thanks to the large coverage an its low cost, the e-commerce is a very good alternative to selling cosmetics in real stores in China. If you are a new business or you want to get some visibility and influence in China, it’s a good way to start.