11 Key Words to Review 2022 China Beauty Market

December 28, 2022
6 min read

As 2023 approaches, we took a look back at changes in the Chinese beauty and personal care market, and identified 11 keywords that could bring inspiration for your next move.

Slowing Growth

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the China beauty market showed strong resilience and achieved solid growth in 2021. However, reduced business activity and supply chain disruptions due to the new outbreak in early 2022 could lead to a simplification of beauty processes, slowing market growth.

Consumer: hard-to-persuade

Data from Mintel China Report The Green BPC Consumer shows that safety and efficacy are still top priorities for consumers, but with increased homogenization and competition, consumers have become more discerning and harder to convince when shopping. Half of consumers are looking for products that are absolutely safe, and 43% are looking for products with medical benefits. Consumers associate high safety and efficacy with brand, so brands in the future will need to demonstrate both a high level of safety and superior efficacy in order to win consumer satisfaction.

Clean Beauty

In the last two years, China’s clean beauty market has seen some development. After a long period of waiting, the pioneers have started to promote “clean” in their own way, based on the current market situation and consumer acceptance, with claims around no additives, eco-friendly packaging and no animal testing. While some of these practices are still entry level, as clean beauty becomes broader, simply promoting environmental and business ethics will no longer lead the trend. As a result, some higher-level brands have begun to promote certain lifestyles that support individual values or beliefs.

New Format & Texture

As one of the top buying factors for facial skincare, form/texture innovations that offer consumers a diverse sensory experience and pleasure present more opportunities for brands. According to the Mintel China Report Women’s Facial Skincare, among all form/texture innovations, sub-throw essences and facial oils will be highly sought after in 2021, in addition to the “oil for skin” concept that has gone into the consumer beauty process. Brands such as Quadha and Zhuben are typical representatives.

Functional-driven skincare

Compared to 1 year ago, Chinese beauty brands have received more positive consumer reviews in terms of efficacy, product quality and product innovation, and many domestic brands have emerged in the efficacy skincare trend by tapping into specific skincare needs (e.g. addressing sensitivity issues and aging). This indicates that domestic brands are primed to be competitive, although they still need to work on improving the user experience and building a premium brand image.

New Social Media Platform

Data from the Mintel China Report Attitudes Towards Prestige BPC Products shows that Tiktok has now become an important, non-brand-driven source of information about high-end skincare products. In addition, there is little overlap between female consumers who view Tiktok and those who view Xiaohongshu and Weibo, with only 11% overlap between these 3 groups. This suggests that brands can leverage the channel to increase exposure among a more diverse group of consumers, and expand their consumer base. Looking ahead, the transition of the beauty business from traditional integrated shopping sites (such as Tmall and Jingdong) to the Tiktok channel will continue and further drive beauty business growth during the bonus period.

Emotion & Wellness

According to data from the Mintel China Report Age Management Products (2022), while consumers still seek a visually youthful appearance, they are becoming more accepting of healthy aging due to an increased awareness of self-care and a focus on overall health, prompting more brands to move away from a focus on anti-aging and instead offer a holistic approach to age management that includes lifestyle adjustment solutions.

Skincare

The ongoing epidemic has repeatedly hardened the usage scenarios and rates for some categories such as color cosmetics, and the Chinese Consumer Monthly Tracker – August shows that consumers are more likely to purchase facial skin care products, especially facial serums and eye serums, compared to other categories after the epidemic closure measures are lifted. Mintel predicts that both consumers and the supply side will increase the priority of skincare in the beauty process as well as in the business.

In addition, the trend of skincare is another reason why facial skincare is leading category growth. This trend continues to influence the adjacent categories of facial skincare, with the color cosmetics category emphasizing nourishing and moisturizing concepts for both primer and lipstick, while body care products are also introducing skincare concepts such as natural ingredients and moisturizing benefits.

Bio-tech Ingredients

In the past year, the more deeply rooted case is the story of the combination of ingredients like “vitamin C in the morning and vitamin A in the evening,” as well as  the combination of hyaluronic acid, and the strong combination of well-known efficacy ingredients. The emergence of this innovative form has not only announced the end of the era of single star ingredients, but also led the new trend of competition through the combination of ingredients to emphasize the comprehensive effect. Looking into the future, there will be more stories around biotech ingredients. According to Women’s Facial Skincare, 53% of respondents believe that biotech ingredients are the primary factor in their choice of efficacious skincare products.

Mild

While the emphasis on efficacy is a mainstream, gentleness must not be overlooked. For brand development, the substitution of mild and natural ingredients is a potential segmentation trend. For example, replacing retinol with Bakuchiol, a natural ingredient, can provide excellent anti-aging effects while eliminating the need to build tolerance. There are potential mild active ingredients to watch out for in the future.

Sustainability

As the country continues to strengthen its focus on sustainability and ESG emerges in many areas such as finance, more Chinese companies are embracing the system to attract investment or benefit from higher ESG ratings. At the same time, as the concept of sustainability becomes broader and more diverse, the sustainable behavior of brands will not only be limited to the protection of the environment, but also the concern for people and social issues will become more evident. Respecting the values of others, promoting specific lifestyles, and respecting the identity of minority groups will all contribute to the sustainable development of people and society.

From the consumer’s perspective, they will focus more on the balance and sustainability between affordability and desired outcomes after the economic downturn and the blow to consumer confidence. They will become more sensible in their purchases, possibly downgrading to cheaper products, lowering the priority of non-essential items or seeking more cost-effective multifunctional products, tending to use up their hoarded products or reducing impulsive consumption. Products with necessity value and high cost performance are expected to stand out and be active in consumers’ shopping carts for a long time.

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