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Survey shows the Chinese beauty product market a gold mine

Chinese women start to spend on beauty products earlier and earlier, spend more and more, and are increasingly sophisticated and demanding in their skincare routine, according to a new OC&C survey.

The report, “unmasking the secrets of Chinese beauty”, surveyed around 2,800 female skincare consumers in late 2017 in 20 tier 1-3 cities across the countries through online survey, consumer focus group discussions, and in-depth interviews.

The results: China is one of the fastest growing regions among major skincare markets, while its skincare spending per capita is still very low compared to other major markets, with ample room for growth.

Here are several trends mentioned in the report, that can help brands better understand market demands as well as effective ways of marketing.

Customers are spending on skincare products earlier…

A quarter of Generation Z (born after 1995) survey respondents started using skincare products as early as 18 years old, and 90% of them before they were 20 years old.

Meanwhile, roughly 80% of Millennials (born in the 1980s) started to purchase their own skincare products before they were 20 years old; while this percentage was only 70-75% for those born in the 1970s.

“This means that brands have to make sure they educate Generation Z and catch Millennials at an early stage of their skincare discovery journey,” said Pascal Martin, partner, OC&C Strategy Consultants.

….and spending more.

58% of survey respondents claimed that they traded up to more expensive product lines within the same brands last year, while 36% of respondents upgraded to more premium brands. 39% of total respondents claimed that better ingredients and improved functionality were the key reasons for their decision to switch to more premium lines or brands in the last year.

Chinese women are also adding more steps to their daily beauty routine. To the basic use of a facial cleanser and a moisturising cream, they have added the application of a toner, an eye cream and a serum. Around 70-80% of the respondents 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 of the respondents were following up to 9 steps in their daily skincare routine, especially the more “mature” women above 30 years old.

Online plays a critical role

More than 90% of surveyed respondents conduct extensive research before they buy skincare products and online plays a critical role in this research. Third party E-commerce websites like T-Mall and JD are the number one channel for browsing across brands and offerings (41%), while social media (36%) also plays a critical role in building brand awareness and helping consumers develop product and brand knowledge.

It is worth noticing that the majority of survey respondents said that they are positively influenced by KOLs, with Generation Z customers being the most receptive and responsive group. KOLs were mentioned as part of the top three preferred marketing approaches by survey respondents in every age group. Among KOLs, celebrities have been the most effective.

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