If you are interested in the Chinese market, you might have already noticed that Chinese consumers are fond of cosmetics and skincare products. Attracting hundreds of international companies every year, China became the second-largest market in this sector, and its growth is not likely to stop for the years to come. Since 2010, it has registered a steady growth and the rising use of e-commerce platforms and Chinese consumers’ increasing purchasing power are key factors of this success. According to Mintel, the skincare industry is expected to exceed 60 billion dollars by 2050. Thus, this is why this industry represents a very good opportunity for those who want to do business in China.
Why is China a good market for foreign cosmetic brands?
As a result of urbanization and modernization, growing disposable income, and social media, the beauty and skincare market is facing a burgeoning demand for higher quality and premium products. Chinese consumers are more than ever paying attention to their appearance and skin. Even though cosmetics and skincare products were at first mainly used by female consumers, male consumers are now more inclined to use cosmetics as part of their daily routine. Thus, thanks to its huge population, China is a good and promising market for cosmetic brands.
The cosmetic industry in China
With Chinese cosmetics being the second largest industry in the world, it is one of the most attractive and popular destinations for foreign brands that want to expand their activities overseas. Indeed, cosmetic products are now part of Chinese consumers’ daily life. Consumers’ demand for eco-friendliness products has also increased these past few years.
In China, more women are joining the workforce, thus driving the instinct of looking good at the workplace. Moreover, the cosmetics industry has also witnessed a surge in demand among men.
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The skin care industry in China
In China, the skincare segment is the biggest and fastest-growing one within the Beauty & Personal Care market. With other segments such as haircare, fragrances, and color cosmetics, the skincare segment has experienced double-digit growth. Even though foreign brands tend to be more popular than domestic ones, this success benefits both Chinese and foreign companies.
Due to the popularity of skincare products from Japan and South Korea as well as natural ingredients that are particularly appreciated, the skin care revenues will continue to increase steadily.
In 2019, the revenue generated by the skincare industry in China reached 139.8 billion yuan. The largest share of the total beauty product distribution revenue came from the skincare segment that year. At that time, it was estimated that it will reach 199 billion yuan in 2024. However, following the Covid-19 pandemic as well as China’s rapid growth, the skincare industry is expected to reach higher results. Furthermore, by the end of 2021, 43% of skincare products’ total revenues will be generated through online sales.
According to Statista, it is now estimated that China’s skincare industry will reach 393 billion yuan in 2025 ($61,249 billion).
What do Chinese consumers like in terms of Cosmetics?
Chinese consumers tend to prefer foreign international brands over domestic brands. This can be explained by the fact that China had a lot of product scandals in the past, and foreign products are submitted to stricter regulations to enter the Chinese market.
According to this graphic, we can see that the two leading countries in terms of skin care products in China are Japan and Korea. It is estimated that 48% of Chinese consumers have Japanese skincare products, 44% have Korean products and 32% have European products.
Korean cosmetics are gaining in popularity over the last few years thanks to the hype around Kpop and Kdramas, with the younger generation (Millenials and Gen Z) following these celebrities on social media for example.
Particularities of the Chinese Beauty & Skin Care market
For their skincare routine, Chinese consumers are using several products to exfoliate, wash and take care of their skin. In fact, Chinese consumers have some particularities that are beneficial and lucrative for cosmetic brands:
- Their skin type
While in Western countries you will be able to find numerous products according to different types of skin, you will find products for the same type of skin in China, as the majority of the population kind of have the same one. Thus, they tend to buy products that fit their “greasy” skin with large pores and a shiny appearance (especially in the “T” zone). Their skin is also very sensible to external aggression (pollution, wind, dust …)
- Whitening cosmetics
The Chinese society describes the ideal woman as Bái fù mei 白富美 (white, rich and beautiful): this is why all the celebrities and KOLs you will on TV and ad have extremely white skin. Synonym of social success, having white skin is deeply linked with the personal investment in cosmetics, in extension with wealth but also modernity and cleanliness. So, Chinese consumers prefer whitening products to tanning cream.
- Rising purchasing power
Many people living in China’s big cities have benefited from an increasing purchasing power over the years which has resulted in a rise in consumption of foreign products (particularly luxury products). In addition, younger people tend to focus more on their appearance in terms of fashion and brands than the older generation. They are also more open to Western influences and prefer to invest in quality products than several local products.
As you probably already know, Chinese people living in big cities are submitted to pollution and dust. Thus, they need to take care of their skin and hydrate them as much as possible.
- Foreign brands’ popularity
Following numerous scandals about Chinese brands, Chinese consumers tend to trust foreign brands more than local brands. Thus, you can take this to your advantage if you want to sell your products in China. However, it does not mean that every foreign brand will succeed in China! The competition is tough, and Chinese brands have plenty of ideas to create high-quality, creative, and innovative products, at a lower price than foreign brands.
- The importance of appearance
A decade ago, Chinese consumers were not that much into cosmetics as the majority of them didn’t apply makeup every day. However, because of society’s evolution, Chinese people are more than ever conscious of their appearance.
What type of products you should sell in China?
According to the specificities and particularities mentioned earlier, you can focus on the following products: cleanser, lotion, toner, mask, etc. Thus, you can adapt your products to the Chinese market in the following areas:
- Products against excess sebum
In order to regulate the oil production of their skin (which is one of their priority), you can put ingredients that will reduce the production of oil as well as hydrate the skin. It should be soft and soap-free in order not to irritate and attack their sensitive skin. Mattifying moisturizers are also perfect for them, as well as masks and scrubs.
- Whitening agents
As mentioned before, white skin is still synonymous with beauty in China, as well as in most Asian countries In China, most facial products have whitening agents included. In order to please Chinese consumers, you can adapt your products according to these criteria.
- Organic products
Chinese consumers are increasingly sensitive to environmental issues. Due to their culture and the several scandals related to hygiene in China, these kinds of natural products are gaining more and more attention. If you are selling organic products, China can be a tremendous opportunity for you to increase your sales.
The mix of “cosmetics” and “pharmaceutical” is becoming more popular in China because it meets dermatological needs in addition to purely aesthetic needs. It accounted for 90 million yuan as of 2020.
How to seduce Chinese consumers?
- Adapt your marketing campaigns
Advertisements are everywhere in China: on the bus, metro, train station, buildings, stores, commercial centers, bakeries, and so on. However, following China’s digitalization and its tech-savvy population, the best way to promote your business is to create social media accounts. You will then be able to advertize effectively your products in the Chinese market. To stand out, you need to know Chinese consumers’ tastes and adapt your product to their needs.
- Flashy and original packaging
Several cosmetics products are launched every day in China. The competition is tough and your competitors are going to be creative and innovative. Thus, you have to be quicker than them, creating more creative packaging. To stand out you must choose a packaging that will attract their attention: focus on the colors, the way to open the package, the size, the material used, etc.
You should also prepare special packages for events such as the Chinese New Year, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and of course, Single’s Day (also known as 11.11).
- Win their trust through KOLs
You have to know that in order to promote your products, one of the best ways to attract consumers and increase your sales is to partner with a KOL (Key Opinion Leader). As a matter of fact, Chinese consumers will be more likely to trust a KOL than an advertisement. That’s why doing partnerships with KOLs is a good strategy to gain visibility on the market and win Chinese’s trust.
- Create your community on social networks
Having an official account on social networks is mandatory when implementing your brand in China! Be careful, foreign app such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc are not available in China. You will have to use Chinese social media to promote your products and your company.
How to sell and advertise your skincare products?
The most popular platforms to sell your skincare products
Tmall is the most popular e-commerce website in China. Launched in 2008 by the giant Alibaba, Tmall is mainly focused on big companies. The process is long and fastidious, and the fees can be considered too expensive for smaller companies. Tmall requires its merchant to have high-quality products, as well as an online reputation in China before applying.
JD.com is Tmall’s main competitor, being another popular e-commerce website in China. JD.com has a wonderful catalog of products, from fresh grocery foods to high-tech and new technologies-related products. However, the process is kind of the same as Tmall, and it will be difficult for smaller companies to be allowed to sell on JD.com
Launched in 2003 by the giant Alibaba, Taobao shares some similarities with its brother Tmall. However, while Tmall is specifically for the biggest international companies, Taobao is more focused on smaller domestic companies. The fees are indeed much less expensive than on Tmall, and the price is also very cheap.
Shiseido on Xiaohongshu
Founded in 2013 by Charlwin Mao and Miranda Qu, Xiaohongshu (小红书) also known as ‘The Little Red Book’ and ‘RED’, is a social media and one of the world’s largest community e-commerce platforms. Over the years, it has grown to become China’s foremost shopping platform in terms of beauty, fashion and luxury products. In 2018, was listed on Forbes’ “Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in China 2018” list. As of 2021, Xiaohongshu is boasting over 300 million registered users and 85 million monthly active users.
The most popular platforms to promote your cosmetics company in China
Introduced in 2011 by Tencent, WeChat is one of China’s top tech companies. With one billion monthly active users, it is the most popular messaging app in China but it also has a large ecosystem of services. Thanks to WeChat, you will be able to create H5 Brochures, promote your products through Wechat moments, etc.
Launched in 2009 by the Chinese technology company Sina Corporation (新浪), Weibo (微博) is one of the biggest social media platforms in China. As its name indicates (“micro-blog”), Weibo provides micro-blogging services and is often compared to Twitter. However, it has evolved into a microblogging hybrid with Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, and YouTube over the years.
Launched in 2016 and developed by the Chinese tech firm Beijing Bytedance, Douyin quickly became one of the fastest-growing short video apps in China. This sharing video platform allows users to watch and create short videos with music in the background, stickers, and animations thanks to easy-to-use video creation tools.
Douyin has greatly contributed to the development of the Chinese market in terms of innovations, new technologies, and means of communication. It has changed the way of advertising, with the rising popularity of sales agents on Douyin, but mostly to the emergence of KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Douyin was able to break ground in terms of marketing strategies and communication between brands and consumers.
Considered as the “Chinese Google”, Baidu is the most popular Chinese Search Engine in China and stands as the 5th most consulted website in the world. You can also advertise on Baidu with pay-per-click ads for example.
It is essential to be on the first pages of Baidu. To do so, you will have to create your Chinese website. You can contact us for more information.
As a Digital Marketing Agency established in China for almost 10 years, we were able to break through the Chinese market, helping hundreds of foreign brands entering the Chinese market. Proud of the success of our collaboration over the years, we are constantly trying to help brands expand their activities in China. So, if you are interested or if you have questions about the skincare market in China, do not hesitate to contact us and we will reply within 24 hours.