Catching Up to the Chinese Beauty Consumer

by Karen Doskow, Director at Kline’s Beauty & Personal Care Products Practice


It’s no secret that China is the number-one priority for many beauty marketers. At the recent CEW event where Kline participated, the panel of speakers in the How to Win in China’s Beauty Market session all agreed on the fast pace of the environment and that it changes in a “blink of an eye.” To effectively market in China, rules must be broken.

Our recently published Beauty Retailing China: Analysis and Opportunities in the Direct Sales and Specialty Stores Channels report shows just how important non-traditional channels are in China. Technology is driving market sales, narrowing the gap between physical services at the beauty counter and virtual experiences. Advanced technology, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, is creating a new shopping environment. Today’s Chinese consumer is light years away from the “made in China” generation.

The spending on beauty products in the direct sales and specialty stores channels combined accounts for nearly 50% of the $59 billion market, up 23% compared to the prior year. Both offline and online channels register rapid growth as marketers often use a mix of these outlets to educate, entertain, and capture transactions. The Internet is the largest and fastest-growing sub-channel with considerable growth of 33%. Specialty store sales advance more than 13% between 2017 and 2018, reaching retail sales of almost CNY 94 billion (USD 14 billion) in 2018.

Skin care is the leading category of sales in the Chinese beauty equation. One of the speakers at the aforementioned event, quipped, “In China, skin is like tofu,” reflecting the overall importance of the category and consumers’ willingness to spend at high levels for products they deem worth the money. The combined door count for beauty multi-brand and single-brand focused specialty stores exceeds 60,000 doors in China in 2018—more than seven times the number found in the United States—and many of these stores offer consumers a personalized approach to skin care solutions.

Kline’s session, Beauty Retailing in China – Opportunities in the Direct Sales and Specialty Stores Channel, at the Cosmoprof Asia 2019 will reveal who are the up-and-coming direct and specialty retailers; how is technology infusing new interest in the shopping experience at physical beauty stores; and what are the key forces and trends affecting the beauty retail market. Register now to secure your entry to the fair.


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