The Chinese sunscreen market in 2020

The Chinese sunscreen market is growing fast

With growing awareness of the impact of overexposure to the sun on skin health and aging, China’s sunscreen market is growing fast. Chinese consumers are expanding their use of sunscreen products not only during the summer, but for daily use in skincare regimens.

You should know that sales of sunscreen products on Tmall amounted to nearly one billion Yuan in June 2020, the highest sales in a month.

The global sunscreen market is expected to expand to 81.7 billion yuan in 2020, where the Chinese market will reach 9.9 billion yuan, accounting for 12.2% of the global market.

Covid-19 impact on Chinese sunscreen market

Covid-19’s impact on sunscreen will most likely be short-lived with sales growth expected to return to previous levels once consumers are able to resume their usual outdoor activities.

With a growing population and consumers leading increasingly active lives, sunscreen is expected to continue to strengthen, especially if brands will continue to invest in localized new product development, innovations and marketing.

The growing awareness of the importance of sunscreen products in China

The main drivers of the growth of the sunscreen market in China are:

  1. the growing power consumption,
  2. a greater awareness of healthy lifestyles and skin cancer prevention.

Numerous researches on the sunscreen market in China show that:

  • 24% of Chinese consumers start using sunscreen products before the age of 18, 45% of consumers use 2 or 3 units of sunscreen products on average per year,
  • All consumers are satisfied with the sunscreen products they have purchased,
  • 81% of consumers think they would like to buy the same sunscreen product multiple times.

Did you know that white skin is considered a good thing in China?

Sunscreen products in China are perceived more as a skincare product that Chinese consumers use to prevent photoaging, tanning and save noble white skin tone.

For example, in China, many sunscreen products contain whiteners and chemicals to lighten the skin. Pale skin has become such a great feature of beauty that the phrase “白 富 美 (bái fù měi) or” white, rich and beautiful “is used jokingly to describe the ideal Chinese woman.

Therefore, in China UV protection is very important nowadays and has become a top priority for Chinese women in their daily routine.

What are the sunscreen trends in China in 2020?

Today, most cosmetic and skincare companies are developing products with UV filters to meet the demand of Chinese consumers. Not surprisingly, most skin care products use UV filters.

What types of sunscreen do Chinese consumers want?

Consumers’ needs and demands are hyper-segmented and sophisticated. As a result, it drives brands to develop more products with innovative textures and features such as high SPFs and a ‘light’ feel on the skin.

While long-lasting protection is important, awareness of the need to reapply sunscreen regularly is also developing among Chinese consumers. In fact, more than half of women who consume sunscreen often reapply it when they go out. This put more pressure on brands to develop products that are easy to reapply.

In addition, Chinese consumers perceive sunscreens as the most relevant category for anti-pollution. In fact, they expressed their willingness to pay more for sunscreen with anti-pollution benefits.

Chinese consumers have their own expectations which could be reflected in 5 aspects:

  • Easy to use formats such as sprays, sun gels, essences and transparent sun sticks,
    • Multifunctional sun creams that in addition to sun protection have benefits such as anti-pollution, anti-aging and moisturizing,
    • Innovative lighter textures,
    • Long-lasting sun protection waterproof,
    • Sophisticated cleansing when removing the product at the end of the day.

The last function creates a new market opportunity for brands to launch the facial care category that features sunscreen-removal functions.

The market for sunscreen-removal products

The growing demand for long-lasting sunscreens also creates new opportunities for associated products. Long-lasting sun protection, especially with the waterproof and sweat benefits, requires more powerful cleaning when removing the product at the end of the day.

However, there are no major sunscreen cleaners in China, which offers numerous opportunities for brands to fill this gap in the market and educate consumers on how to properly cleanse sunscreen residues.

Foreign brands are leading the Chinese sunscreen market

Foreign Brands are dominating the Chinese Sunscreen market. These brands hold a strong position thanks to significant investment in marketing and established word-of-mouth recommendations.

There are several successful brands on the market such as Anessa, Clarins, Lancome, SK-II, Pola, Bioré, Mantholatum, Eau Thermale Avene, Innisfree and Vichy brand.

Although the sun protection products market is still dominated by international brands, however, by relying on new marketing strategies such as Douyin, the Chinese short-video platform, some niche brands have gained a lot of success recently, such as ISDIN from Spain. , Mistine from Thailand, RE: CIPE from South Korea. Some domestic brands like Gozi also performed well in the competition.

How to enter the Chinese sunscreen market?

What are sunscreens regulations in China?

In China, sunscreen products are regulated as special use cosmetics. Manufacturers/importers of sunscreens shall apply for registration with the National Medical Products Administration prior to manufacture or import.

  • Permitted UV Filters in Cosmetics

China adopts a positive list to regulate UV filters. Cosmetic companies can only use the 27 UV filters included in the list, otherwise, applications will be rejected.

  • Label Standard

According to the requirements for the labeling of sunscreens, companies must follow the rules for marking the SPF, water-resistant, and PFA on the labels.

Branding is the key to be successful in the Chinese sunscreen market

The ‘face’ culture is really important in China, Chinese beauties always want to look the best at any time. Reputation is crucial, therefore, customers attach great importance to the brand and its image. Furthermore, Chinese consumers tend not to trust brands they don’t know and will never buy your products if they don’t know and trust your brand.

The advantage of foreign companies is that they are perceived as quality, but without the right marketing strategies on Chinese social networks, it is impossible to reach Chinese consumers.

Branding in China mainly passes through social networks. So they are absolutely essential in China because a brand that is not present on social networks is practically non-existent for the Chinese. The main obstacle for Western brands wanting to enter the Chinese market is that Chinese people have their own social media, while Western social media like Facebook and Instagram are blocked. These Chinese platforms have a particular and specific functioning, but if understood and used well, they can increase the visibility of your brand very quickly.

As you can see in the following picture, the Anessa brand has a Chinese website and is present on Baidu, the largest Chinese search engine. This offers the brand a showcase for Chinese consumers looking for information about the brand and its products. An excellent way to increase brand awareness in China.

How to promote sunscreen products in China?

E-reputation is essential to selling sunscreen products in China

Having a great and innovative product in China is wonderful. However, as long as there is no E-reputation for your product that’s the time when you start wondering yourself what is wrong with your product or what can you do to market it wisely.

It is recommended to remember that the Chinese web is a unique ecosystem that requires a fresh and creative approach, right Chinese platforms should be chosen to build your Sunscreen product’s visibility & reputation in order to target your consumers.

Chinese social media are very useful to market sunscreen products

Chinese social media like Wechat, Xiaohongshu, Weibo, and Douyin are very useful to market brands and products in China. Let’s see some of them.

Wechat: the Chinese app where you can market your sunscreen products

Wechat is the app on which Chinese people spend most of their time. It is therefore the best way to offer visibility to your brand and create a community that will follow you.

Wechat was created by the Chinese giant Tencent. Basically, it’s a messaging app, but it has a lot more to offer. No other app in the West compares to Wechat. Wechat is a mix of Facebook, Skype, Slack, Amazon, and Paypal, all grouped in a single and single app. Knowing this, it is easier to understand the huge role of Wechat in the life of the Chinese. In fact, it’s the most popular mobile app in the country, where they spend all hours every day.

As you can see in the following picture, Anessa is using Wechat to:

  • Promote its sunscreen products,
  • Teach how to use its sunscreen products.

How to manage your Wechat account to acquire more reliability?

The app allows companies to create an “official account” to promote their company. This is the best way for a brand to build a community, acquire followers, and be actively involved. Since you can also sell your products on Wechat, it is very convenient for the user to buy something directly on your Wechat account.

Wechat is also a great tool for newsletters. Remember, email marketing doesn’t work in China, people don’t read emails. Thanks to a well-set CRM on Wechat, you can automatically answer all the questions of your followers, you can welcome new ones, you can offer special discounts, etc. In this way, you don’t waste time but increase your level of trust with followers.

Little Red Book / Xiaohongshu: one of the most popular apps for sunscreen products in China

Little Red Book / Xiaohongshu is more than just an e-commerce platform where you can sell your products. It’s a review app that makes it the perfect space for KOL to grow their communities. Consumers use Little Red Book when looking for authentic information about a brand or product. Cosmetic brands in particular should consider integrating Xiaohongshu into their marketing campaign in China.

More than 80% of Little Red Book users are women. They live in the first and second-tier cities and are interested in purchasing medium-high-end foreign products, especially cosmetics. The platform has around 100 million monthly active users between the ages of 18 and 35.

Having a presence on Little Red Book gives you an opportunity not only to increase your brand awareness but also to use a feature of E-Commerce cross-border.

Word of mouth tools to spread sunscreen brand’s name in China

Zhihu: Generating sunscreen brand Awareness in China

If Baidu Zhihu doesn’t seem like the most obvious platform for your social media marketing strategy in China, it’s only because you don’t yet know the power of community and word of mouth in the middle realm. Not only will be featured on Baidu Zhihu allow you to answer questions about your field, but also educate your target audience about your brands/products in a covert way. It’s a great tool for increasing your conversion rate and for increasing your brand awareness.

Zhihu is a Chinese question and answer platform launched in 2011, similar to the western platforms Quora and Yahoo. It has never stopped growing and evolving to satisfy its users. The platforms have developed many tools such as Zhihu Class, which are a kind of ted talk. Zhihu is just one of many question and answer platforms (Zhidao, Soso wenwen) but it seems to be one of the most trusted around.

KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) are the best people to market sunscreen products in China

KOLs are a perfect way to connect your brand quickly to a large audience. This technique is particularly efficient in China because they will be more likely to trust someone they admire rather than advertising.

The favorite platforms for KOLs to show and share are Social media. The two most loved social networks by KOLs in China are the two most used social networks, namely Weibo and Wechat. However, the most recent Douyin, Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu), Kuaishou, Bilibili should not be forgotten either. On these platforms, then, the KOLs increasingly use live streams to promote products and brands. The reason is that live streams make it easier to show and describe products and increase the sense of proximity between brand and consumer. Therefore, brands should absolutely exploit this tool.

KOL marketing has been a powerful marketing tool in China for quite a few years already, but recently a shift from KOL to KOC marketing has been noticed and it is supposed to be one of the marketing trends in 2020. The position of consumer opinion in marketing has become higher, making KOC more and more important and the epidemic situation at the beginning of the year accelerated to this trend. Why? They are more reliable. They are simple consumers who express their opinions and in a market like China where recommendations and reliability are everything, how could they not have become increasingly important for brands?

Online shopping: Chinese consumers’ favorite channels to purchase sunscreen

In China, online shopping platforms have become one of the consumers’ favorite channels to purchase sunscreen products.

One thing to notice is that the online and offline performances of sunscreen products at different prices vary. In fact, Chinese consumers tend to purchase lower-priced sunscreen products online and purchase high-end sunscreen products in the shopping mall.

GMA is your best partner to sell sunscreen in China

Gentlemen Marketing Agency is a Digital Marketing Agency that is expert in helping foreign companies to establish or strengthen their position in China.

Contact us to know more about market sunscreen product in China.

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