While there is little doubt that Asia is the birthplace of the sheet mask, it seems that the region is also the world’s largest sheet mask innovator. At this year’s annual in-cosmetics Asia (31st Oct – 2nd Nov), now in its 10th year, new research from global market intelligence agency Mintel reveals that Asia Pacific accounted for 76% of all global sheet mask launches in 2016, followed by Europe (16%) and the US (8%).

When considering which Asian market is the most innovative, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) most of these launches came from the North Asian region, with China accounting for 28% of all global sheet mask introductions, followed by Taiwan (12%), South Korea (10%), Hong Kong (7%) and Japan (6%).

Meanwhile, data from Mintel Market Sizes (MMS) found that China and Japan are currently among the world’s largest facial care markets, estimated to reach a retail market value of US$15.8 billion and US$13.5 billion respectively in 2017. Rounding out the top three facial care markets is South Korea, with a retail market value that is expected to hit US$6.6 billion in 2017.

Speaking at in-cosmetics Asia, Sharon Kwek, Senior Innovation and Insights Analyst, Beauty and Personal Care at Mintel, said:

“The sheet mask has successfully penetrated the Asian market, with North Asia taking the lead—a region that is home to the top three largest facial care markets globally, namely China, Japan and South Korea.”

And while sheet mask innovation is ripe in the Asian market, the product is now a frequent feature in many consumers’ skincare routine. Three in four (75%) consumers in China use sleep masks in the evening; while 69% use sheet masks at the same time of day. Additionally, over half (53%) agree that facial masks are the best first-aid skincare products and three in five (59%) Chinese women aged 30-39 say they feel happy after using a sheet mask. Furthermore, two in five (40%) Thai women have used a face mask in the last 12 months.

Despite growing popularity in Asia, it appears that European and American consumers are lagging behind in usage. Mintel research shows that just 12% of women in the UK have used a sheet or leave-on mask in the last 12 months*. Meanwhile, in the US, just 8% of consumers use facial masks as part of their evening routine and 29% use facial masks on an ‘as-needed’ basis. Furthermore, Mintel data shows that around one in 10 women in France (10%), Germany (10%) and Spain (8%) have used sheet masks in the last 12 months.

However, it does seem that there is appetite for sheet mask innovation in the UK moving forward. Over a third (35%) of UK consumers aged 16-24 say they are using more skincare treatments, such as masks.

“Asian consumers are the biggest users of facial masks and include masks as part of their regular skincare routine. While they are the key target markets, they are also the most challenging markets to sustain consumer interest with new product developments. The facial mask trend will continue to gain strength in the West, as it becomes part of a regular beauty routine for consumers.” Sharon adds.

As to which benefits consumers are looking for in facial masks, hydration is key for consumers in China. Three in four (76%) Chinese women aged 20-49 who use facial masks say they look for the products to provide hydration, followed by 59% who look for whitening and 47% for pore refining.

Meanwhile, among US consumers who have used facial masks and peels, the top four skin concerns users are looking to treat are acne or blemishes (29%), followed by signs of aging (27%), fine lines and wrinkles (27%), and pore size (27%).

“Consumers curate their own facial mask routines according to skin type, lifestyle and product offering. In the future, this will drive new product development with different positioning claims and ingredients will be chosen to match different facial mask formats which deliver maximum efficacy. Brands can look to include local ingredients to appeal to consumers who don’t currently use facial masks, and can slowly introduce Asian ingredients that are increasingly of interest to consumers in the global market.” Sharon concludes.

*12 months to March 2017

Sharon Kwek, Senior Beauty and Personal Care Innovation and Insights Analyst at Mintel, will hold the presentation ‘Spotlight on Facial Masks’ on Wednesday, 1st November at 1pm in the Marketing Trends Theatre.

Interviews with Sharon Kwek are available at the show at Stand J50 and on request from the press office.

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