Fueled by pop culture and celebrity influences, lip colour remains the fastest-growing colour cosmetics subcategory in China. It has also contributed a substantial share to the total retail value of the colour cosmetics category. Mintel research shows that as many as three in four women in China say they use lip colour as part of their everyday makeup routine, making this the colour cosmetic product that women are most likely to use.

Tapping into pop culture and celebrity influences

The Korean Wave has taken the world by storm with influences across different categories, including cosmetics. An increasing number of popular South Korean celebrities are now making their stamp on lip colour products. For instance, online sales of IOPE’s lip colour product – through leading e-tailer Taobao – surged after it was seen in the popular Korean soap, ‘My Love from Another Star’.

The influence of pop culture is a global phenomenon and by leveraging this trend the Chinese lip colour market could have boundless room for growth. Similar to the success seen by global brands such as Givenchy, YSL and Tom Ford, there are definitely opportunities for premium niche local brands to gain momentum. Such tactics include celebrity endorsements and clever product placements, either through popular televised dramas or mentions by YouTubers, as well as other social media advocates.

Innovation needed to sustain growth in mid-to-low-end market

68% of lip colour products locally manufactured and launched in China between January 2015 and October 2016, retailed for less than RMB 100

Between 2015 and 2016, more than half of new lip colour launches in China were manufactured locally. Although some of these were launched under South Korean or Western brands with operations in China, most were from Chinese brands that include skincare-centric players such as Chando and Herborist who are both expanding into the colour cosmetics category.

Such Chinese brands tend to target mid-to-low-end consumers. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), 68% of lip colour products locally manufactured and launched in China between January 2015 and October 2016, retailed for less than RMB 100 (~USD $14-15).

In the short term, local brands should continue to focus on this mid-to-low-end market. However, to grow sales, it is vital for small brands to adhere to trends, as well as keep an eye on the premium market, so as to build a stronger, more robust brand image. Innovation such as packaging, texture, miniaturisation and colour, will be important to maximise growth in the country’s colour cosmetics mid-to-low-end market in the future.

Laurie Du is a Senior Beauty Analyst, Asia Pacific, based in Mintel’s Shanghai office. With a long career in BPC market research, Laurie has worked with brands including Shanghai Jawha, L’Oréal, Kao and Amore Pacific, giving her a unique perspective of the Chinese market, its key players, consumer behavioural trends and new product development.

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