Cosmetics in China: Top Brand Marketing Strategies to Unlock the Beauty Market
In this Article, we will analyze China’s Cosmetics Market, Trends and, Marketing Strategies that Brands have to use to Sell in China.
The Cosmetics Market in China: a Gold Mine
- Firstly, it is the largest market in the world
- Further, it is an Extremely Dynamic market
- Finally, consumers are ready to spend more for higher quality
Chinese Female consumers spend more and more on cosmetics and Personal Care products and this trend does not seem to be slowing down. China’s beauty market is on the way to become the world’s largest in terms of sales and market shares by the end of 2020
How to explain the boom of the cosmetics market in China?
- The rise of the Chinese middle class and its appetite for all consumer goods- especially Beauty brands.
- Total Cosmetics &Beauty Products revenues retail sales of skin care products in China reached RMB255 billion in 2018.
- China Market is one of the fastest-growing countries among major beauty markets for growth.
Beauty Trends in China
In cosmetic: Higher Prices = better Quality
A survey (of OG&C Consultant) explained that 58% of Chinese People claimed that they want a more expensive product, while 36% of Chinese Consumers upgraded to more premium brands.
39% of Chinese Beauty Consumers explained that better ingredients and better functionality were the key reasons for their switch to premium brands
Luxury Cosmetics in China on the Rise
For consumers in China, social status is very important.
The average Chinese consumer, use luxury Brands or expensive products as a way to show off their wealth. Chinese are “new Consumer”, as a result, they tend to prefer higher-priced items because Higher is better.
Top Beauty Brands are benefiting from this strong appetite for “Cosmetics” and popular Products are anti-aging treatments (even to young ladies),
International Brand First
For many Chinese girls, foreign brands are “more attractive”. There is a kind of “premium selection ” that comes with French brands that makes them a favorite among shoppers. International branding is key to catch this segment of the market.
- French & European Brands are seen as Innovative and High End.
- Japanese Brands have also a good image in this Premium market.
- Korean brands, Asian brands, and US brands have more mass Market positioning.
The problem of brand-loyalty in China
It is well known that consumers in China tend to have No-loyalty to brands, often trying a different brand however once they find one they like, they will stick to it.
What it means for you, is that you’ll have to spend money to acquire your customers, but once they are converts and are happy about your product, they will come back to it.
At the same time, Chinese Female Consumers are “very brand-conscious” – buying from “famous brands” as they believe higher prices equate to higher quality. Chinese consumers are now very focused on getting the best Product for Value and always comparing brands, so consumers’ feedback has a huge impact on their decision.
Magic Keywords for Cosmetics in China: Natural, Green & Organic
In Asia and especially in China, the population is concerned about Scandals and pollution. Consumers have started to think about the outcome of the pollution on their health and skin. This growing awareness has been particularly beneficial to air purifiers companies and skin care brands. Meanwhile, the increasing awareness of environmental issues is pushing consumers to turn to more eco-friendly products labeled organic and natural.
Cosmeceuticals on the rise
Cosmeceuticals products are Popular because of double function: beauty and pharmaceutical function such as Skin Spot treatments, Skin brightening, acne treatment, anti-pollution etc
Chinese consumers are sensitive to products that provide internal benefits. The increasing popularity of multi-functional products like BB Creams and CC Creams is a good example of it.
In 2019, China has voted a law, forbidding to sell cosmetics product as a medical one. Platform have to enforce this law and brands have to adapt quickly has well. Undercover marketing would be the solution here: Kols, Pr, review.
Beauty for Men
We can see in China, an increase in Personal care of Young wealthy Men, especially in big cities. They go to the Gym, take care of their appearance and wear luxury clothes.
- Brands are creating special line of products targetted at men
- The Man cosmetic segment is estimated to reach 1.9 billion RMB by the end of 2019.
Influenced by Korean pop Culture, Chinese Male consumers are concerned about their their skin.
Most Male Consumers are still quite “conservative” and it is a Niche population that starts to use cosmetics.
Example of WeChat Campaign for La Mer China
Beauty Daily Routine is changing
Chinese females are using Skincare products earlier than the previous generation. Japan and Korea are the kings of it. They are using an average of 21 different products during their skin care routine. Look at some youtube tutorial, that is pretty impressive. The good news for cosmetics brands is that China is taking the same path strongly influenced by their neighbors but also by brands themselves.
Brands have been educating Millennials about the importance of good skin from an early age and an early stage of their cosmetics discovery journey
Chinese women are also adding more steps to their “daily beauty routine“. To the basic function of a facial cleanser and a moisturizing cream, they have added the application of a toner, an eye cream, and a serum.
Around 70-80% of the beauty consumers also use makeup remover, mask and sun protection cream on a daily basis, which leads to an average of 6-7 steps in their daily skincare routines.
Some parts of the Population (beauty “mature” women above 35 years old) were following “up” to 9 steps in their daily skincare routine.
The Web: a”huge influence on purchase habits
More than 90% of Chinese girls are influenced by Online Trends.
They are Checking Beauty news, and actively research new Products / Reviews :
- Magazine of Beauty: inform and Give Brands News.
- Influencers help to Guide consumers
- E-commerce websites like Taobao l & JD
- social media such as Weibo and Xiaohongshu
Chinese girls are spending on skincare products earlier…
- A quarter of Generation Z (born after 1995) starting to use skincare products as early as 18 years old.
- 80% of Millennials (born in the 90s) started to buy their own skincare products before they were 20 years old
- 70-75% for those born in the 80s.
Cosmetics Brands Entering the Chinese Market
You have a Cosmetics Brand, Beauty brand and you want to enter the Chinese Market.
I’m certain you have heard a lot of Bad stories, and you already know that The Chinese Market is full of opportunities and danger.
To sum up the Cosmetics Market in China :
- China is the most promising Market for cosmetic in the word.
- Above all, it will be the biggest market in the world for almost every beauty Products
- Almost every product category, demand is increasing
- The best market for Foreign Brand. 80% of the market is dominated by international Brand
- Chinese girls Consuming power increase year after year
- Make-up is becoming more and more popular among women
The Beauty market is just in its early stage in China
90% Chinese Girls do research before buying Cosmetics Products
Generally speaking, consumers will spend hours doing researches before purchasing a beauty/ skin care product.
Chinese consumers spend a lot of Time comparing different type of cosmetics and products before taking any decision.
For instance, more than 90% of Girls admitted that they conduct extensive research before they buy skincare products. Online certainly plays a critical role in this research.
source OG&C Consultant
There is huge amount of information on skincare brands across multiple channels in China.
E-commerce websites such as T-Mall and JD are the main channels for browsing across brands and offerings, while social media also plays an essential role in building brand awareness and helping consumers develop product and brand knowledge.
Chinese Consumers use a different way to research information than in the west. Mainly because the tool available in China are different that in the west.
What are the Top 4 Marketing Keys for Cosmetics in China?
Chinese E-commerce Channels
- Tmall / Taobao
These Platforms provides usually a lot of useful information for Buyers such as long and detailed product pages.
What consumers really care about is the comments section. However, most of these comments are not genuine, because of this well-known fact, consumers always check 3rd party information, we will tell more about it a bit later.
Example Avene Tmall
To have a presence on these platforms is an absolute necessity for large Brands and far too expensive for small Medium Brand. However, tmall has just released a new service that targets small and mi size brand; It is called TOF or tmall oversea fulfillment;
Weibo is the number one platform for Beauty KOL, cosmetics bloggers. It is the place where all Cosmetics Superstar starts to build their community. Most of them keep publishing on Weibo because it allows them to reach their fans and to get the virality of their posts. (Not the case of Wechat)
In addition, Female consumers usually follow several beauty bloggers because they like tutorials, Brand review and think it is a trustworthy source of information.
Tips For Weibo Marketing
The brand has to have a Weibo
- Certified Weibo
- Communication can be focused on the community but should also be commercial (discount, release, coupon etc…)
- Brands should Use Sponsored Ads on Weibo There are efficient and relatively cheap..
- An effective way to get exposure, and you can target the right users Ex: Female, 25-30, interest Cosmetics.
- Create Games, Contest is a good way to engage.
Get all kinds of influencers to reach each segment of your target audience. Show that you are not only a brand with resources that can buy big Kols. By having your products reviewed and used by more “common” peoples, you are building credibility. Once you are credible, peoples will start recommending your brand.
The Chinese Search Engine is still very efficient. Why? Because, as we mentioned earlier, consumers are looking for third party information. It is ultra-easy to make research on Baidu. Type your question and see the results.
Female users will use Baidu to :
- Find a Solution to their Problem. It is a good way for them to find a product that can solve skin problems, find the tutorial for makeup or get feedback from users. They will actively search for Question&Answer or Conversation on Forums.
- They will use Baidu to get feedback from users about Brands, especially before decided to buy a product. They will compare different Brands and will be influenced by comments or reviews of Users for each brand.
They will still consult the Brand Website. That is a good way to learn more about a brand but they know, no brands can be 100% objectives about their products. You would not say “hey my BB cream is great at protecting your skin from UV, however, it feels really sticky”. That is exactly the kind of information consumers are looking for. The positive points as well as the negatives ones.
Tips for Baidu Marketing
Solely working on your own Website and traffic make no Sens in China because the user does not trust in corporate communication. They also don’t purchase on a brand website but rather on e-commerce platform.
Having a Good looking Website is still necessary but most of the energy should focus on the Baidu ecosystem.
- Q&A: Baidu Zhidao & Zhihu are a good source of information. Get positive feedback from your community is vital for Brand reputation. Further, you can help this page rank higher. Use Baidu, SEO to get maximum exposure
- Forums: You have a lot of conversations on Forums about Beauty, and they can rank well if you optimize the Search Engine Visibility….
- Media: Get your Brand information published on Media is a good way to get the trust of potential clients, optimize this publication on Baidu, to let them reach the first page on strategic keywords is a good move to influence Chinese Consumers.
Focus your SEO effort on the third-party website rather than on your own website. The goal is to maximize the Word of Mouth about your brand.
Remarketing or Retargeting visitors to your website is a good strategy to get awareness. It is a Cost-Effective budget to increase the number of apparitions of the brand in front of users.
Smart business redirect clicks on Tmall or E-commerce platforms.
After 7-10 visuals contact with a brand, Chinese consumers will be more willing to buy their products. They will also found it reasonable to click on ads with discounts and make the purchase on Tmall – a platform they trust.
Further information on this Article or send us an email
WeChat: the perfect tool for a Newsletter
Consumers will be influenced by their friends, by the conversation that they can have on WeChat, or discussion that they can follow on groups.
The moment system is the best way for them to get personal feedback about Brands, but usually, they do not publish Brand Reviews.
Groups are a better source of discussion. Peoples discuss Brands, Solutions to solve their problems or product recommendation.
Some Wechat Accounts are also followed by a large number of people.
WeChat Brand Content
Brands should focus on External discussion, Brand mention, or the number of shares.
Get Mentioned by WeChat big accounts is great but, usually, the cost of exposure is extremely high. In other words, we strongly suggest you use this budget in a smarter way.
Community management is the key to Wechat, get in contact with users, engage conversation, create Groups per interest…. It is time-consuming but also rewarding.
At the moment we speak Advertising on WeChat is expensive and the targeting not great. In the future, wechat will probably develop towards a better ads system but keep in mind that the core of wechat is the users. Users want useful and interesting content.
Example of WeChat localize content La Neige
Little Red Book
Purchase sharing App like little Red Book is getting extremely popular in China, especially among Chinese women. Xiaohongshu has a focus on cosmetics and beauty and 80% of the users are women. They have good purchasing power and love international cosmetics brands. The platform content is mainly created by its users (UGC) via “buying notes”. It is a great platform for Kols to develop themselves and create a community. Working with these KOL is beneficial for any brand. You basically buy their follower base as well as their credibility. In RED, you also have the possibility to create an online store within the App and ads hyperlink to your other online store.
Tips for Little Red Book
Little Red book allows Brand to have a Brand Space and Ecommerce Store.
Competition is not too high yet and little Red book is based on a community already used to share Cosmetics reviews.
The tag system is well executed. Each tag will send users to all the reviews associated with them, making it easy for users to discover new brands.
Brands have to maximize their Communication via influencers to optimize visibility, credibility and get engagement => drive sales.
Aks us for our little Red book Report for free (just send us an email )
Girl’s Social Platforms that have lost their appeal.
These social Media were inspired by Pinterest before moving to an eCommerce model. Today, they are commercial and lost their interest for users.
Most of the Female users stopped using these platforms for Cosmetics.
Meilishuo (http://www.meilishuo.com/) takes the Fashion Move. And became “Ecommerce”, one more Taobao Copycat. (website & the App)
The Chinese Pinterest (share photo platform for Trendsetters) changes to e-Commerce and became “one more” Taobao/tmall website.
It was a Popular platform to reach trendsetters, micro-influencers (http://www.kimiss.com/). The concept was unique: you send your products to Kimiss community, and they write comments, critics about your Brand / Products. Then, the platform changed to a commercial Business model. Brands have to pay to get these testimonials, and the platforms rapidly got full of positive Comments and lack of ” real “ information.
Once consumers understood that, the popularity of Kimiss decreased. We said it, consumers are looking for genuine feedback.
The concept of Jumei was Good… 4years ago. It was a website dedicated to Cosmetics & beauty makes Full sens in China. This platform was especially popular. Back then, you could find a lot of information about Brands, Tips and the Design was inspired letting behind all possible competitors.
You know what is coming… Jumei moved to an “Ecommerce” Business model and then became a Copycat of Taobao /Tmall.
They sell Famous Beauty Brands with Discount, Luxury Bags, or Baby Milk… End of the Community, End of the Story.
In the Cosmetics industry Branding is everything
Cosmetics Brands in China have to focus on Branding. From finding a distributor to selling to consumers, this step is necessary
Every company has to invest in Branding to succeed in China.
Branding = Awareness * Reputation
Get Exposure then maximize exposure is the first step for increasing your brand awareness
Distribution in China
Because the model is very opac (on purpose) Distribution is often a headache for Cosmetics Companies.
1/ Exclusive Distributor
Most of the time, it is complicated to deal with an exclusive distributor in China. Once they get the certification and the authorization to represent a brand in China, they start to change their way of dealing with their Supplier.
Do not forget that you will be their supplier, not their partner. A distributor’s interests always come before yours.
Distributors distribute. They do not have the knowledge on how to Build a Brand, or how to develop an International cosmetics Brand in China but are usually good businessmen and know how to sell products fast, and identify resellers.
2/ Multi Distributors
The Brand is controlling the Distribution process. Deal directly with distributors, agents, and resellers. It allows a presence in China, its own registration and strong branding.
Registration: the brand needs to have a legal presence and have the certification of the products.
Strong Branding: because having a strong Brand open every gate in China. Negotiations are easier, shorter and better.
Your Conversion rate will be higher as well.
That is how most of the Chinese local Companies use to develop their business in China. In other words, no branding, no distributors.
How to develop multi distributors?
Alibaba B2D (business to distributors) is in 2018 the best way to reach thousands of distributors and develop a network faster.
Tradefair: Shanghai Beauty Expo, Guangzhou Cosmetics Expo or Cosmoprof are trade fairs where you can be found by distributors.
It requires to have: Sales Support team, legal presence, and Brand attraction.
3/ Develop your Own distribution
Control and develop your own distribution is a must in China.
You will need a lot of investment because of the initial cost of setting each store but you’ll start to see positive results after 1 or 2 years.
A lot of Consumers get information in physical Stores and then buy Online. Therefore, having your own Store in a Shopping mall is also a great way to increase awareness. Shopping is a widespread hobby in China.
Usually, the E-Commerce part is the most profitable and easiest way of selling beauty products in China.
Reflex : It is now a Reflex to search for products and buy online.
Convenient : easy to buy, the product is delivered at home.
Discount : most of the time, on e-Commerce platforms you can get discounts, it is usually cheaper
Re-Buy : E-Commerce is perfect for a re-Buying product. Getting your first sales usually cost a lot, but once you get someone to buy your products they will buy again if this person is satisfied with the product he bought. Focus on retaining.
E-Commerce is in 2018 necessary to almost every brand in Cosmetics – Personal Care.
2 Choices for E-Commerce …
- Tmall Global
- JD global
- Crossborder platforms
- Your own website
- Little Red Book
You do not have a Chinese Business license and do not have the certification delivered by Chinese Authorities.
Open Stores on giant e-Commerce platforms is expensive.
- You have to pay a Deposit,
- Build a nice Store, a lot of long detailed products pages
- Advertise a lot at the beginning
- Pay commission on each sale
- Cost of managing daily operation is high
- The constant need to have an active marketing Campaign to support Sales
More information about ECommerce Crossboder in China here
E-Commerce in China Mainland
If you have a Company, licence for your products then you can use Chinese E-Commerce.
- Tmall / Taobao
- Other eCommerce website like jumei
Usually, the cost of delivery is lower and time to get the product is faster than with crossborder.
The performance for beauty products on these mainland eCommerce platforms is 20 times higher.
Process is the same :
- Deposit (to the platform)
- Build Store, design product pages
- Advertise and work on traffic acquisition
- Participate to Special online Events
- Manage daily operation, customer services
- Every Store are supported by Investment on Branding.
About the US : Chinese Digital Agency Specilized in Cosmetics
We are a China based Digital Marketing Agency , and we are specialized in Cosmetics and have worked with Major Beauty Brands in China, while developping Special Competences for
- “New Brand” Entering the Chinese Market
- Brands in China need to level up their Engagement / Awarness/ Sales
- Leading Brands searching “new” innovative Solution
- Do not hesitate to contact us and discuss with our Expert or Consultant.
- We can send you latest Tips & Trands about the Market, our Case studies and can give you a Strategy and a Quote.