Chinese beauty market

Nowadays Chinese beauty market is experiencing a great competition between Korean(K-beauty) and Japanese(J-beauty) products.  According to L2 New York research group, it was found that I comparison with K-beauty brands, J-beauty brands experienced rapid increase of sales and digital visibility in 2017. Moreover, in term of Korean brands, Amorepacific Corporation, which is the owner of Etude House, in the fourth quarter of 2017 had experienced loss down to 76 percent. The company refers such decline to the decreased interest of Chinese consumers.

Key points of J-beauty

J-beauty makeup

Most likely that Japanese makeup brands nowadays are focusing less on heavy eye makeup and dense fake eyelashes and more on the natural beauty. One of the basic key points are big, round eyes, rosy flushed cheeks, matte skin and shimmery highlighters. Such key points are totally different from Korean makeup styles. Japanese makeup is most likely focused on sweet looking, innocent and gentle or let’s say ‘princess’ looking appearance, behind it there is an idea about the khan in shining armor who will come to save and protect those maidens.

Japanese girls usually wear such sweet looking makeup with flowy outfits which all in all create a cute looking image.  Even though there usually appears a good looking and at the same time edgy and savage outfit.

Key points of K-beauty 

K-beauty makeup

As it was mentioned before, Korean makeup is more about straight and bright lip colors and full eyebrows, it is more refered to the desire of Korean girls to look more outstanding and having the opportunity to get a brighter impression. The most interesting fact is that full and straight eyebrows is the main key point for Korean beauty, which is reflected in the willingness of Korean girls to look more natural, and in addition almond-shaped eyes over rounded eyes. In terms of their lip colors, they have shades of just bitten lips or just like flower petals.

J-beauty brands which are “made in Japan” starting from such brands as SK-II, Shiseido and Shu Uemura to the more niche labels such as Shiro, RMK, DHC, for decades they were combining the archetypal ethos, understated aesthetic, age-old beauty ceremonies and groundbreaking formulations by perfecting the poreless complexion Japanese women are well known for.

In comparison with K-beauty brands, which were experiencing poor performance recently, J-beauty brands due to a better reception of its products

in China, a rapid growth was achieved by such Japanese brands as Shiseido and SK-II. According to the mid-2017 Nikkei Aisan review, it was revealed that the annual profit of Shiseido in 2017 had increased rapidly because of high demand in China. In one of the Interviews, Shiseido CEO Masahiko Uotani, mentioned that in terms of market share the company is making a big progress and in this sense they are very optimistic about Chinese market.

Moreover , according to General Secretary of the China Beauty Expo Sang Ying, it was noticed that “Japanese cosmetics are particularly advantageous in the development of small category and featured products”. He also added that what makes Japanese beauty products more desirable is that these brands spend usually decades to create one certain product, which makes it an ultimate  “quality’ sign for Japanese products. According to McKinsey & Company, nowadays Chinese consumers are highly concerned about the quality than ever before, which makes them more pragmatic and they are willing to pay more for better high quality products, in this case Japenese products are used to be perceived as high quality products.

Matthieu Rochette Schneider, centdegrés China’s general manager, mentioned that “Japan has always been a solid value and — despite some up and downs — an endless inspirer and creator of beauty products innovations for China”.

To sum up

It seems that K-beauty brands are more tend to be reflecting forever young looking appearance like innocent young girls. While in contrast, J-beaut brands (SK-II ) are pursuing the look based on the empowerment and independence. As it was mentioned by centdegrés China’s Matthieu Rochette Schneider, in 2018 the beauty market in China will be impacted by by Japanese beauty brands. On the other hand, K-beauty brands are still remain trending in China, as it was in case of Hera and Sulwhasoo are pursuing to be more high-end beauty brand in order to say competitive.


Please contact our expert team at GMA for more information on Chinese marketing strategy and how it can help your business. We look forward to discussing your project. 

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