Beauty & Cosmetics Marketing Guide for China

Cosmetics Marketing : Strategies for Cosmetics Brand in China

David Henriques

The rise of brand-savvy buyers has forever changed the way Chinese shoppers consume media, especially when it comes to beauty and cosmetics. To be successful within the Chinese beauty industry, you don’t have to be a big cosmetic brand like L’Oréal, Estee Lauder or SK-II; smaller brands still have the opportunity to excel as long as they understand the value of personalization.

Chinese beauty shoppers are steadily on the pursuit for the latest and greatest cosmetics to match their consumer centric lifestyles. This means that brands need to meet them before they are on the move, not just when they’re in the frame of mind to shop for a new beauty product. Top brands utilize innovative and personalized strategies to draw the attention of these on-the-go consumers. Here’s what you should know, you should pay attention to cosmetics marketing in order to stay relevant in the ever-changing world of chinese cosmetics.

 

1.Understanding the Chinese Beauty Shopper

The rise of the millennial generation has played a large role in the increased demand of the cosmetics market along with the awakening of health conscious consumers. This has also caused changing attitudes when it comes to brand loyalty in the cosmetics sector. Modern day Chinese beauty consumers are much less loyal to big international brands due to their growing curiosity with niche brands. In addition, Chinese females are paying more attention to the usefulness of skin care products and are looking for products that can solve specific needs.

These beauty shoppers really take the time to research and analyze product reviews before making a purchase decision. When finally deciding to make a purchase, it usually comes down to 3 categories; buying more expensive products from the same brand, buying more expensive products from a different brand, or adding additional steps to their beauty routine. The decision to upgrade typically comes down to wanting products with better ingredients and enhanced functionality. Prices doesn’t really play a factor in the decision making.

 

1.Understanding the Chinese Beauty Shopper

 

2.Attracting the Attention of Chinese Beauty Enthusiasts

In order for brands to stay on top of changing consumer habits, it’s important to build a strong brand community around a signature product. Building a community around a signature product will greatly increase the odds of your brand experiencing long-term success. Considering how personalization and health conscious products are of great value in China, your signature product should be customizable by skin type and function. Chinese beauty shoppers pay more attention to products with these traits over an all-in-one product.

Product characteristics such as organic ingredients, oil control, pore refining along with whitening and brightening, as lighter skin is preferred in Chinese culture, are all highly sought after by female consumers. Once you have a signature product, you can easily build a community around it through offering product sets and free samples with orders to showcase other products your brand has to offer. Along with this, it’s recommended to encourage your customers to engage with each other by rewarding them for referring other users. This adds to the community experience and will allow you to tailor the user experience even more through creating tags with CRMs that are based on preferences such as skin needs, type of hair, and ingredients.  You can proactively speed up the likelihood of repeat customers by sending out automated messages around the time consumers will be out of the product with special offers. Special offers can vary from offering sample size cosmetics kits to on-the-go packaging, which has gained a lot of traction in recent years.

 

3.Emerging Trends You Need to Know

  • Organic beauty is trending: Organic beauty and skin care products are not new concepts for Chinse consumers, but they are becoming a huge business in China due to the change in consumption habits. Listing natural ingredients alone is not enough to win over this audience though, brands need to really commit to converting these users. It’s important for your brand to clearly communicate your production process and even go a step further to incorporate creativity from traditional Chinese ingredients, which will increase the likelihood of Chinese consumers viewing your brand positively. Ingredients such as Chinese Angelica Root, Ginkgo Biloba, and Chinese Wolfberry are all good places to start.

    Organic beauty is trending

  • Growth in cosmetics for men: Inner-city Chinese men, particularly millennials, are increasingly focusing on their appearance. They are starting to equate personal success with sophisticated grooming and it would be very smart to include Chinese men into your beauty marketing strategy. Lotions, moisturizers, creams and light makeup are great products to sell male beauty shoppers.

  • Rise in domestic partnerships: The lack of brand loyalty regarding the cosmetics industry has allowed local Chinese brands to emerge and take up some of the cosmetic and skincare market share. Chinese brands such as Maogeping, Chioture, and Perfect Diary have all made a name for themselves. Despite the credibility of international brands, Chinese consumers are willing to give local brands a shot and they have an advantage with understanding Chinese needs. As a result of the increased competition, it’s wise to consider partnering up with a domestic brand to stay ahead of the ever-changing Chinese preferences.

    Rise in domestic partnerships

  • Kbeauty is losing relevancy: After a decade of being at the top of Chinese beauty standards, K-beauty is losing quite a bit of market share in China. Domestic and some Japanese cosmetic brands are filling the void in the meantime. K-beauty promotes beauty in the sense of perfection and Chinese consumers are starting to get more in tune with authenticity. This opens the door for small and medium-sized international brands to focus on self-care and to promote individual confidence amongst beauty and cosmetic shoppers.

 

4.How to Build Brand Exposure in the Beauty Industry

  • Engage with Millennials & Gen-Z: Chinese skincare lovers gain exposure to cosmetic and skincare products before they reach the age of 20. They also have a craving for new and niche products that are less known or even available on the market. These niche products could be anything from the products’ application to the specialization of a brand. It’s important to catch this group during the early stages of their skincare journey.

  • Hire the right KOLs: Whether you are interested in boosting awareness or generating leads, a KOL can do wonders for reaching your ideal audience. If you have a fixed budget, Chinese beauty bloggers have the reach to get Chinese consumers interested in all the skincare and cosmetic products that your brand has to offer. Consumers are usually on top of the latest content posted by professional bloggers and are likely to make a purchase after repeat exposure to quality products. Your KOL search should consist of choosing an influencer that has quality content and deep insights into their viewers. Don’t rely solely on production experience to make your decision.

  • Get familiar with omnichannel: Given the reputation of e-commerce in China, it’s essential to have a strategy in place that creates a seamless experience for self-care products. Cosmetic and beauty shoppers make purchases online and offline these days and cross-channel shopping is dominating the skincare industry. Your brand needs to include things like free samples, exclusive products, discounts and some form of loyalty program when shoppers visit your products online. Take advantage of the Chinese third-party platforms and consistently offer a quality customer service experience. Chinese consumers are willing to pay premium price for products online, but offline channels are still important because of the in-store experience and product authenticity.

  • Build trust with livestreaming: Livestreaming might be the perfect choice when it comes to showcasing the personalization and authenticity of your cosmetic or skincare product. China leads the world in this category, and KOLs also utilize this feature to expand and interact more with their fan base. It has become the go-to choice when shoppers seek out new beauty products as it allows the audience to ask questions and receive a response instantly. Beauty brands both domestic and internationally utilize livestreaming to host events and embrace social shopping on Tmall and other social media platforms.

  • Don’t forget about WeChat & Weibo: These two platforms will always be great picks when it comes to brand recognition. They are some of the first social media platforms that Chinese users will use to learn more about your products and brand. You can take advantage of the CRM capabilities that these platforms have to segment your target audience and offer more personalized services to meet individual needs. You can also launch campaigns for special days for women and utilize WeChat advertising to offer coupons and vouchers.

 

5.Top Cross-border Platforms to sell your Products

China’s cross-border e-commerce industry has become extremely popular among beauty consumers and a major gateway to buy international cosmetic products. Cross-border e-commerce can be an efficient and inexpensive way to showcase your beauty products without setting up an offline store. Here are some of the top platforms to consider selling your products on and engage with Chinese consumers:

  • Kaola: Cosmetics and fashion brands often consider Kaola as the gateway to the Chinese beauty and skincare market. It provides international companies the opportunity to sell their products securely to Chinese consumers and is known for cost-effective and trustworthy products among shoppers since the platforms buys products directly from foreign companies.

    Kaola

  • Meizhuangxinde: Meizhuangxinde has become a great reference platform for cosmetics in China where users share their experiences and advice on the best use of beauty products. Some of the platforms main functions include branding discounts, cosmetics’ ranking lists and testing, and a product library.

    Meizhuangxinde

  • Little Red Book (RED): RED’s user-generated content plays a big role in helping Chinese consumers shape brand perception and build brand loyalty. It encourages users to share their personal experiences with products, give tips and provide discounted information. This app is turning into the social commerce hub for beauty beginners and professionals alike.

    Little Red Book

For any skincare, beauty or cosmetic brand that wants to stay relevant in China long-term, a strong signature product with a commitment to personalization is key to reaching Chinese shoppers. It’s all about approaching your potential customers in an intimate way while offering a unique experience that caters to individuality. The potential for SMEs in China is definitely there, but there is little to no room for error. Brands that are transparent and willing to keep product offers relevant can attract and maintain the attention of Chinese consumers for long-term success.

David Henriques
David Henriques

Digital entrepreneur and co-founder of Sekkei Studio, a digital marketing agency in Shanghai, Paris and Hong Kong. More than 10 years of experience in helping the communication of foreign companies in China.

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