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As the second-largest beauty market in the world, China’s skincare and cosmetics industry is massive and there is no slowdown in sight either. China’s beauty market is expected to grow to 60 trillion RMB ($53 billion USD) by 2025, and with the increase in disposable income amongst Chinese consumers, the biggest opportunities in 2020 lie in natural skincare, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and male beauty.

Trend #1: Natural is in

“Natural”, “green”, “clean” – these words are spreading profusely amongst Chinese influencers and KOLs nowadays to promote “green beauty” on Chinese platforms. With Chinese consumers’ upsurge in household income, there is a stronger demand for skincare products with natural ingredients as these consumers are able to pay for a premium to derive the benefits of organic beauty products. According to market research firm Kantar, 54% of Gen-Z consumers say they value plant-based skincare when asked about skincare concepts.

The two main reasons behind the trend towards naturalism and organic beauty products are the increasingly health-conscious mentality of Chinese consumers and the alluring concept of new, niche beauty that natural, green products carry. In a landscape where counterfeit cosmetics plague the market, “the list of horrendous ingredients and harmful bacteria tested positively on counterfeit cosmetics will make [consumers] shudder: cyanide, mercury, lead, animal feces, rat droppings, horse urine and loads more ingredients that [consumers] don’t want to put anywhere near [their] skin.” The cheap cost of cosmetics with counterfeit contaminated ingredients comes with a much higher price – damage to people’s faces, resulting in a growing demand for pure, natural products. Even well established and highly trusted pharmaceutical company, Bioderma, was a victim of counterfeit products when 1,100 bottles of the French beauty brand’s top selling cleansing water were confiscated for being fake back in 2015.

Furthermore, according to the brand manager of the highly successful luxury beauty retailer, SpaceNK, “one strongly growing trend in beauty in China is niche – customers look to explore new brands and products, especially those that are less known and even less available.” Given the exclusivity and lavishness organic products exude, Chinese consumers especially succumb to these trendy purchases to satisfy their cravings for freshness and newness.

The future of beauty and skincare is green in China. Brands that can align their products and values with these target consumers will be able to gain traction in this blooming segment.

Trend #2: Increasing popularity of traditional Chinese ingredients

Native Chinese beauty brands are gradually gaining more market share, as Chinese consumers are looking towards more preventive health properties and benefits, which has translated to the resurgence of traditional Chinese medicine. Dating back to ancient times, Chinese culture and philosophy is deeply rooted in the tradition of Chinese medicine and ingredients as it demonstrates the powerful effect that nature has on one’s health. Infusing Chinese values with French savoir-faire, home-grown brands such as Cha Ling are gaining traction amongst Chinese consumers by utilising the cherished Pu’er teas in their products for powerful anti-aging, moisturising, and skin-healing attributes.

There is also a favorable shift in Chinese consumer behaviour and perception towards domestic products as “consumers are no longer obsessed with anything that is tagged with foreign labels and are more confident in their own culture.” Another prominent skincare player taking inspiration from TCM is Shanghai-based Inoherb, which has rebranded itself to be a brand that makes TCM-themed skincare products, that are proven to be scientifically effective. Inoherb’s strategy on promoting Chinese herbal cosmetics successfully carved itself a place in the Chinese organic skincare market, further demonstrating consecutive double-digit growth rates from 2013 to 2018.

Beauty brands can learn from these domestic market players by incorporating Chinese herbs or TCM-inspired therapies to products in order to gain the winning edge in both the Chinese and global beauty market.

Trend #3: Men’s skincare is on the rise

Beyond promoting natural ingredients as a strategy to appeal to organic consumers, beauty brands can also ride the wave of men’s skincare and explore China’s male-dominated demographics. In an environment where there is a traditionally skewed gender ratio and preference towards the males, cosmetics that target men have seen remarkable growth in the Chinese beauty market in the recent years. According to Tmall’s data, the growth rate of men’s-only brands jumped 56% from 2017 to 2018.

Men’s willingness to use skincare and make-up products and consequently spend on such products has surged due to their growing consciousness about their appearances and looks. In a recent HKTDC survey of Chinese beauty consumers, 63 per cent of male respondents reported using cleansing milk, lotion or face cream. Although their skincare routine is getting more sophisticated, males’ education and awareness of beauty products are still lacking. Hence, their purchasing behavior highly revolves around the perception that the most expensive products are typically the best. This puts luxury and expensive brands in a prime position to target male beauty, especially organic and natural brands that carry premium-priced collections.

Initially skeptical of buying beauty products, Chinese men now embrace them and are investing in skin maintenance, self-hygiene, and improving style. Although the share of cosmetics products for men in the overall market is still relatively small compared to that of women’s, there is undoubtedly an opportunity for natural beauty brands to brand themselves as unisex products or take it one step further by specifically targeting men.

Connect and Engage with Chinese Beauty Consumers

As one of the most notable beauty markets in the world, China is not only attractive for global cosmetics companies but also to small niche brands looking to enter. We’ve given you the top trends in the beauty market in China, but how can you connect and engage with your ideal customers while riding these hot, upcoming trends in China? No matter how big or small your brand is, it is all about brand positioning and scalability of reach – which is exactly the solution OrgHive gives to brands.

OrgHive is a unique content & social platform that connects your brand directly with China’s largest online community of organic consumers! You can reach consumers with your branded microsite, be featured on our banners, showcase your products, provide direct links to your e-commerce stores, and post branded content to your ideal customers, all thanks to advanced technologies using AI algorithms and machine learning that matches your products with ready consumers – and vice versa!

Learn more about how OrgHive can empower your brand to dominate these trending consumer behaviours in China at!

Jessie Lee

Author Jessie Lee

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