It seems Chinese consumers love for the sensational facial mask shows no signs of slowing. Indeed, new research from global market intelligence agency Mintel reveals that the facial mask market in China is growing at an impressive rate, with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 29% in value between 2011 and 2016.

In 2016, the market saw a steady increase of 26% in growth, hitting a sales value of RMB 15,218 million, up from RMB 12,040 million in 2015. In comparison, the overall growth rate of China’s beauty and personal care market stood at 8% in 2016, making the facial mask category one of the most dynamic in the country’s beauty and personal care market.

Mintel estimates China’s facial mask segment to grow at a CAGR of 15.8% in value over the next five years, reaching RMB 31,746 million by 2021.

Sharon Kwek, Senior Innovation and Insights Analyst of Beauty and Personal Care at Mintel, said:

“In recent years, facial masks have successfully penetrated women’s facial skin care regimes in most parts of Asia, like China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, to name a few. The growing usage of facial masks in wider Asia is largely because of the beauty item’s ability to offer consumers different skin care benefits in a convenient manner and short turnaround time. Today, the usage of facial masks in China is commonplace, and the so-loved item will continue to be coveted among Chinese women.”

In this day and age, more and more consumers are turning to their mobile devices to do more things like stay connected with their friends and family, or shop in their spare time. And it seems Chinese consumers love of facial masks is also causing them to turn to social media. Mintel research reveals as many as one in three (33%) surveyed urban Chinese female consumers who use facial masks* purchase the skin care product via the social application, WeChat. This purchase channel seems to have grown in popularity as only 10% of these female facial mask users reported purchasing facial masks via WeChat in 2016.

Jessica Jin, Beauty and Personal Care Associate Director at Mintel, said:

“The success of online channels has contributed to the growth of China’s beauty and personal care market, and these portals will continue to bring momentum to the wider industry, and especially, the facial masks category in the years ahead. However, there is no strong brand loyalty in the facial masks category as our research shows that there is similar interest among female facial mask consumers to try out premium masks and new brands. Consumers’ growing demand for innovative products will require dynamic and vivid response from facial mask brands.

Indeed, females in China, today, are increasingly accepting of the idea of premium facial masks, as Mintel research reveals just over half (54%) of female facial mask users surveyed* in urban China have purchased a facial mask priced RMB 30 or above (per sheet) in the six months to January 2017. Additionally, a similar proportion (52%) of these facial mask consumers have tried out new brands during the same time period.

Research from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) reveals an increase in the number of new facial mask launches with masstige and prestige pricing in China from 2015 to 2016. The proportion of masstige and prestige launches in China’s facial mask market has risen from 14% and 3% in 2015, to 25% and 8% in 2016 (respectively).

When it comes to usage occasions, Mintel data shows that seven in 10 (69%) surveyed urban Chinese females have used sheet masks in the evenings in the last six months**, and only 17% have used the mask variant in the mornings. While evenings remain the major usage occasion of facial masks, it seems mornings still hold potential for brands. Mintel research shows that morning usage is gradually being accepted by facial mask consumers as 47% of surveyed urban Chinese females** have used at least one type of facial mask in the morning in the six months to January 2017.

Bringing attention to morning usage, among all the different types of facial masks, rinse-off masks have the highest usage penetration among China’s urban female consumers, followed by sheet masks. One third (33%) of those surveyed who have an MPI (monthly personal income) of RMB 8,000 or above have used rinse-off masks in the morning, compared to 20% of all urban Chinese female respondents**. Compared to high earners, urban Chinese females with an MPI of RMB 4,999 or below are clearly using fewer variations of facial masks: peel-off masks (55% vs 75% high earners) and multi-steps masks (45% vs 69% high earners).

“Income has not stopped urban Chinese women from using facial masks as our research shows there is no significant difference in the usage of sheet masks across income levels. However, our findings show that income has limited consumers’ pursuit of niche types of facial masks as high earners are more likely to use a larger variety of the product,” Jessica adds.

When considering the types of facial masks brought to market across the Asia Pacific region in 2016, Mintel GNPD reveals that 40% and 50% of new facial mask launches in South Korea and Japan bear the anti-aging claim (respectively), while only 25% claim the same in China. Finally, as many as 47% of female facial mask users surveyed* have used facial masks with pore-refining purposes, while 39% have used facial masks that claim to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, according to findings from Mintel.

“New product innovation is important to companies and brands looking to stand out in China’s facial masks market. Anti-aging is an expected avenue for facial mask brands to tap into as Chinese consumers’ skincare routines are highly influenced by neighbouring countries, such as South Korea and Japan, where early uptake of anti-aging products is now a trend,” Jessica concludes.

*2,935 female internet users in tier 1-3 cities aged 20-49, who have used facial masks in the six months to January 2017
**3,000 female internet users in tier 1-3 cities aged 20-49; survey conducted January 2017

Press review copies of the report and interviews with Jessica Jin, Beauty and Personal Care Associate Director at Mintel, are available on request from the press office.

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