10 Tips to Sell Cosmetics in China in 2023

Chinese cosmetics market is growing rapidly and it’s one of the most profitable markets to invest to. In recent years, China’s beauty market has seen a big rise, predicted to reach 564.4 billion yuan by 2025. China is the world second-largest cosmetics industry and it’s no wonder that most of the cosmetics brands want to enter this lucrative market.

In addition, Chinese consumers love imported cosmetics and believe that foreign brands sell cosmetic products with better quality. But in order to be successful in selling beauty products to Chinese beauty consumers, foreign cosmetics brands need to understand their needs and shopping behaviors.

In this blog post, we will give you some tips on how to sell cosmetics and beauty products on China;s cosmetics market in 2023.

Overview of China’s beauty market

In 2012, the cosmetics market in China was worth 248.4 billion yuan, while in 2021 the numbers nearly doubled. It’s expected that the market will reach 564.4 billion yuan ($87.64 billion) by 2025, with an annual market growth of 13.76%.

Chinese cosmetics market

China’s middle class is growing and more and more Chinese consumers starts to take care of themselves, spending on personal care. With rising disposable incomes and better quality of life, younger Chinese netizens want to invest in themselves, and one of the markets that gaining the most our of this trend is China’s cosmetics market.

10 tips on how to promote foreign brands and sell cosmetic products on the Chinese market

Despite the health crisis, the cosmetics industry in China didn’t record a big loss in comparison to other markets. Brands like L’Oréal reported that their sales in China have seen progressive signs of recovery since the country was hit by the Covid-19 outbreak, potentially marking that the cosmetic market is headed for a quick recovery post-pandemic. 

Chinese consumers are changing and they are looking for beauty brands that will adapt to their needs. Therefore, it’s important to understand what Chinese consumers are looking for, what are their shopping behaviors, and what a cosmetics brand needs to do in order to build a presence on the market in China.

1. Understand who are your Chinese consumers

According to a survey, a total of 41% of Chinese consumers expect to increase spending on health and beauty products compared to the 29% global level. Chinese people are very health conscious and they are investing heavily in the skincare products in particular, making skincare market one of the fastest growing markets in China.

China skincare market size

The main contributors driving the growth of the market are young generations. According to Statista, people between 19 and 29 years old make up almost 40% of the market, while people between 30 and 39 make up another 27%. Millennials and Gen Z are reshaping the consumption trends in China, so in order to sell products to those consumers, it’s important to understand their needs.

Chinese female consumers are earning more and want to feel independent. Chinese women are actually the biggest consumer group in China. They have big purchasing power, they are easily influenced by social media influencers and market trends, and they want to invest in themselves.

Another interesting group to pay attention to are Chinese men. They don’t consider buying cosmetics as a female thing and most of them invest in skincare products and other beauty products, growing the market.

2. Adapt your products to Asian beauty standards

The ideal of beauty in China is different than in Western countries, that’s why brands have to adapt their products to the Chinese consumers. For instance, the majority of Chinese population desires a white skin, therefore many companies have developed products to whitening their skin.

China Beauty Standards website

In Chinese society, beauty and success are intertwined with the concept of having extremely pale skin. As a result, cosmetic advertising emphasizes fair complexions in order to promote social standing for consumer goods such as whitening products over tanning creams.

In addition, Chinese people have a naturally ‘greasy’ skin type with large pores and a shiny appearance. Therefore, they are looking for product that fit this type. Their skin is usually very sensitive, so cosmetics should be rather delicate.

China skincare market case study GMA

3. Follow the latest market trends

While entering the Chinese market, it’s best to know what are the products that have the biggest potential on the cosmetics market in China.

Natural cosmetics

One of the biggest trends in the last years are natural cosmetics. Chinese people, especially during COVID-19, started to be more health aware. They train more, eat better, invest in health supplements, luxury goods and also good cosmetics, that are beneficial for their health. Therefore, natural cosmetics are taking over the market.

Dermo-cosmetics and medical products

Another big group of cosmetics that are on the rise are dermo-cosmetics, popular among both women and men. Chinese consumers often have skin problems, so they are looking for medical cosmetics for acne and scars treatment. On top of that, they invest in anti-aging creams and serums.

Anti-aging creams and serums

What is interesting about the Chinese market is the fact that anti-aging cosmetics are the most popular among younger generations, that live by the rule, that ‘the sooner you start, the better’. Anti-aging creams are one of the most promising category in the Chinese cosmetics industry.

Baby skincare

And, another big group of cosmetics are all products for baby care. Chinese parents are super cautious when it comes to their babies and they want to give them the best care possible. When it comes to baby skincare, foreign companies and skincare brands selling baby products have a big chance here, as Chinese parents generally trust foreign brands more than local ones, due to many scandals.

Baby skin care products on Tmall
Baby skin care products on Tmall

4. Focus on your digital strategy

Younger generations are reshaping the Chinese market. They prefer to purchase products online and go to offline stores rather to see the products, test them and make a decision, to further purchase the product on Tmall, Xiaohongshu or WeChat.

On top of that, thanks to the pandemic and ongoing lockdowns, many older people also got used to shopping online. In the last two years, more than half of the beauty products in the Chinese beauty market were purchased online, and the trend is going to grow in the following years.

Therefore, it’s crucial for all the foreign companies to build their online presence in China. For starters, a cosmetics brand should set up a Chinese website hosted in Mainland China. You need to remember that websites on the market in China are not for sales, but they work for your credibility, branding and e-reputation.

Another step is to make good use of Baidu ecosystem. Website needs to be adapted to Baidu SEO, because Chinese people like to Check all the foreign brands online, on multiple different channels, to make sure they are making the right choice. Therefore, you need to make sure your website is well-positioned.

In addition, it’s advisable to participate in forums and beauty websites, so that you increase your Baidu SEO ranking.

Innisfree on Baidu

5. Integrate social media platforms

Social networks are part of the Chinese daily life and exert an enormous influence over Chinese consumers. That’s why brands have to develop an important presence on social media platforms to reach and attract them.

The importance of social networks resides in their power to allow shoppers to share information and reviews about products and brands. Brands can create relevant and interesting content and spread it via social networks in order to communicate with users.

clarins weibo

When it comes to Chinese social media platforms best suited for cosmetics brands, we advise setting official accounts on WeChat, Weibo, Xiaohongshu and Douyin.

WeChat is the must have when it comes to China, as it’s a super-app, offering many great features for business, like short-videos, official accounts with push up notifications, interactive brochures, gamification, influencer collaborations and on top of that – e-commerce stores within the app.

Chinese Mother and Baby products on social media

Another platform especially important when it comes to the cosmetics market in China is Xiaohongshu (eng. Little Red Book). The app gained population among Chinese women, that were sharing beauty, fashion and lifestyle tips and recommendations on their accounts. Thanks to its focus on user-generated content, Xiaohongshu is the best app to build e-reputation and work with Chinese influencers.

6. Collaborate with Chinese opinion leaders

Key Opinion leaders (KOLs, which are Chinese influencers) play an important role in the beauty industry. Through internet, they share information and opinion about products and give tips to their use. Consumers trust in these people and believe whether they are utilizing a product or a brand is due its quality and efficacy and therefore they decide to purchase the same product.

Bloggers, celebrities and brand ambassadors are some of those opinion leaders who have the ability to influence customers. Depending on your brands values, needs and budget, you can chose different influencers, from big celebrities that work as brand ambassadors, to smaller influencer and Key Opinion Consumers, that are average product users with very engaged but small communities.

Influencers can share your content or create a new one, promoting your brand. Influencer marketing is one of the best method of advertising and promotion. They are often specialists in their field, so their followers trust their judgement. You can also organize live-streaming sessions, where influencers will talk about your products live, generating sales during the event.

xhs-live-streaming-cosme
Live-streaming on Xiaohongshu

7. Offer phygital experiences

China entered the Metaverse, which became one of the biggest trends of last two years. All the big companies from various industries start offering phygital experiences, which was especially visible in this years 11/11 Singles Day shopping festival.

Above you can see an example from Maybelling, that offered a Metaverse shop, presenting top products that were on sale during the shopping festival. Companies offer flagship stores in the Metaverse, fashion shows, gamification and IPs collaborations and phygital experiences, that enrich customers shopping journey. Metaverse is one of those trends that will stay, so it’s advisable to get a grasp of it as soon as possible.

8. Sell your cosmetics products through Chinese e-commerce platforms

The importance of online sales in China is increasing every day. More and more shoppers are leaving aside the physical stores and are spending their money via e-commerce platforms, with Tmall, JD, Taobao and Xiaohongshu being the most important ones in terms of Chinese beauty market.

lefeng-china-cosmetics-shopping-online-02

Although the biggest marketplaces give you the biggest visibility and reach, they are also expensive. It’s important to build a brand presence and reputation on China’s cosmetics market, as Chinese beauty consumers never buy products that they haven’t heard of. In addition, those platforms only want to offer brands with an established presence in China.

For smaller and niche brands entering those platforms might be hard at the beginning, as it’s a big investment to make. But there are new options that are as popular as those market leaders: social e-commerce.

Social e-commerce is becoming popular, especially among Gen Z. Platforms like WeChat, Xiaohongshu and Douyin have built-in e-commerce platforms, where companies can have their own flagship stores and sell products directly there. It’s a good idea to test the market without a need of a big investment.

China skincare market

9. Sell through private traffic

Another interesting trend that we observed in recent years are private-traffic sales. Consumers in China have multiple options to chose from and millions of brands fighting for their attention. Therefore they can be picky. They like to be treated personally, and have unique experiences and personalised products.

Private traffic sales are sales in groups, becoming popular especially on WeChat. Cosmetics brands can contact their customers privately and add them to dedicated groups, where they can get exclusive discounts and offers. Some companies also offer selected products, that are reserved for those customers.

french shampoo brand in china case study

10. Pay attention to communication with consumers

Chinese are very demanding consumers. A quality product and good service are not enough for them, they also want to interact with the brand. Through social media platforms and opinion leaders, brands are interacting with their customers and have the opportunity to make them loyal to the brand.

It’s important to offer good customer service, personalised messaging and great user experience, in order to win the customers in China.

Korean cosmetics Douyin - sell cosmetics in china
Korean cosmetics Douyin

Do you want to sell your products on the cosmetics market in China? Contact us!

In order to market beauty products in China, companies have to keep in mind the previous tips. The beauty market in China is constantly changing due the technologic advances and emerging trends in beauty. Marketers have to pay attention to the market in order to adapt their products to those changes and trends.

marketing agency china contact us

If you are interested to understand Chinese shoppers and their behaviors, don’t hesitate to contact us. We understand Chinese consumers, their needs, and how to target them via the right channels. We therefore can help you increase your sales in the Chinese market.

Here are some of our services:

We offer tailor-made solutions depending on your brand values, needs, size and budget. We have more than 10 years of experiences on the cosmetics market in China. We worked with over 600 brands, offering them the best marketing strategies.

Some of our case studies include international beauty brands, such as:

For more information about what we do and how we can help your brand, you can leave us a comment or contact us. We offer a free discovery call, where our expert will learn about your brand and offer you the best solutions for China’s cosmetics market.

3 comments

  • As a loyal lecturer of the Cosmetics China blog, I already read a lot about digital practices for cosmetics in China, but I never know about main things such as distribution. Thank you!

  • Since 2015, we distribute Cosmetics Brands in China, and after acquiring 15 distribution channels, we distribute Famous international brands in all China, and has become the leading cosmetics distributor in Mainland China.
    Contact us to know our condition

    • Nice to Know you Eliot, We Put your company in our Distributor Contact information.

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