French cosmetics brands are doing very well on the Chinese cosmetics market
China has already been the world’s second-largest cosmetics consumer market only behind the United States, with retail sales rising by 4.2% year on year to RMB 261.9 billion in 2018. Spurred by urbanization, people’s higher income, and mature consumer education. Chinese cosmetics market witnesses the burgeoning online sales. The penetration rate of online cosmetics has been on a rapid rise in China since 2009, hitting 25.3% in 2018, far above the levels of the UK (12.1%), the United States (10.9%), and Japan (9.2%).
China’s online penetration rate of cosmetics will range at 31.4% in 2022. The top export destinations of France cosmetics are Germany, UK, Italy & Spain within the European region, whereas in Asia it has the largest export to China & Singapore among other countries. The France cosmetics export to Asia accounts for 20% of the total exports across the world and the popularity of French cosmetics brands is still increasing in China in 2021.
Five factors to explain French cosmetics brands’ popularity in China
1. The brand image of French cosmetics brands
France is said to be a romantic country where Chinese tourists like to travel. The country has attracted 1.2 million Chinese tourists in 2013 according to the French ministry of tourism. In China, it is seen as the country of chic and elegance thanks to its luxurious fashion and cosmetics brands. Buying French cosmetics gives a face to the Chinese customers thanks to the price and the good image that the French brands benefit in China.
2. The famous quality of French cosmetics
French brands in China have a key advantage on which they can play: quality. France is known worldwide for the quality of the goods it manufactures. In China, it is not rare to see the “Made in France” label put forward on products. Chinese customers want to be able to trust the quality of the products they buy. Especially since the counterfeit scandals have multiplied in China during the past few years. Even the leading Chinese online cosmetics seller Jumei had to face a fake goods issue that was being sold under a third-party store on the website in July this year. So that Chinese buyers of cosmetics are reassured by the fact that buying French cosmetics is buying safe products.
3. French international brands have adapted products for special markets
French brands also adapt their product to Chinese cosmetics buyers. Knowing that Chinese women prefer products that help to whiten the skin, they included ingredients to do so in their products. Most of the packaging and product sizes have also been revised to appeal the Chinese customer. Some French brands also choose to partner with a local firm to better adapt to the market. The leading French cosmetic brand L’Oreal recently acquired Magic Holdings International, a Chinese company that has 288 distributors. L’Oreal will benefit from this acquisition by having better distribution and a Chinese point of view to promote the brand.
4. French cosmetics brands’ marketing strategies
French brands also understood the need for a strong presence on the Chinese internet. There are indeed 618 million netizens in China and 90% of them use social networks. Chinese customers are used to searching information online before buying a product. The first source of information that they consider reliable is the social networks.
French brands, therefore, decided to be very active on Weibo and WeChat the two leaders of the sector. Most of the well-known French cosmetics brands such as Clarins, Yves Rocher, L’Occitane, and Vichy have their own official accounts on these networks. They like to post about the brand history, or videos, photos, care techniques. They also use social networks to make announcements of promotions and activities or to answer the questions of the customers.
5. The special distribution channels of French cosmetics brands
Choosing the right canal of distribution is essential for a cosmetic brand in China. French brands cosmetic brands like Clarins, Yves Rocher, L’Occitane or Vichy are present in physical shops. Most of the time, they chose to establish their own sores, and have corners in department stores. Vichy even used to be sold only in drugstores but decided to sell in department stores too. Practically all of the brands use their official website as their own e-commerce platform, they also opened their shop on Tmall, the giant B2C platform in China. Some of the brands also have a shop on Jumei, a platform specialized in upscale cosmetics.
French cosmetics brands are appealing to Chinese cosmetics buyers because they represent French elegance and chic. French cosmetics are also a choice of safety guaranteed by the “Made in France” tradition of quality. French brands succeed in the Chinese cosmetics market because of the image of their country but also because they understood the importance of adapting their products to the local market, of digital marketing, and of distribution that is essential to be successful in China.
You have a French cosmetics brand? Contact a reliable agency in China
If you want to know more about the Chinese cosmetics market, its actors, its trends, and its best digital marketing strategies, you can contact our agency. GMA has more than 7 years of experience in China and our team of passionate experts can help you set your strategy in China thanks to various services: SEO on Baidu, Chinese social media management, creation of an official account, and online shops on Chinese e-commerce platforms, PR, distribution, KOLs campaigns, translation & localization services… everything you need to understand how the market works and how to find your place in China.
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