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China’s BPC markets – from facial skincare to bodycare and haircare – are becoming more function driven. Latest research from Mintel, the experts in what consumers what and why, reveals that 74% of urban Chinese female consumers pay attention to specific functional ingredients and 65% say they would dig deeper into the mechanism of these functional ingredients. Meanwhile, the majority (97%) agree that knowing which ingredient suits their needs is important.

60% of surveyed females who pay attention to BPC ingredient information would trust products endorsed by professional organisations. When it comes to influencers, those with professional images are much more appreciated compared to non-professionals (40% vs 17%). Moreover, although females are more likely to turn to friends or family to learn about beauty products, when it comes to ingredient knowledge, in-store channels (43%) are more influential than friends and family (34%).  

Anne Yin, Mintel Beauty and Personal Care Analyst, said: “In China, the competition over BPC product efficacy is now intensified to the ingredient level. Consumers are demanding that brands improve their ingredient transparency and offer more evidence for claims and benefits. As such, scientific evidence is becoming more important when communicating ingredient information to consumers. Branded channels, third-party platforms, and professional KOLs are shaping consumers’ ingredient knowledge. BPC brands are leading ingredient education efforts, but more influential platforms with professional KOLs and personalised analysis are empowering consumers to become savvier.”

Intensifying competition for whitening, anti-aging and acne treatment

According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), in 2020, beauty enhancing (85%) and natural (68%) were the most often seen claim in BPC innovations across facial skincare, bodycare and haircare. 

As for ingredient claims, the percentage of products with ‘extract’ as an ingredient remains relatively stable globally, while fermented ingredients are growing, especially in China (0.4% in 2018 to 0.7% in 2020) and South Korea (0.4% in 2018 to 0.6% in 2020).

Anne Yin continued, “Consumers have a great variety of offerings and ingredient-related information available to them. As Mintel Trend Guided Choice notes, brands and organisations that help consumers find suitable choices are highly valued. Just as ingredient information platforms are offering matching scores of BPC products with one’s skin type, brands could also start to position their ingredients and formulations as specifically targeting a certain skin type, to better communicate the perceived suitability and efficacy for individual consumers.” 

Nearly half of consumers believe in the efficacy of plant-derived ingredients

For Chinese urban consumers who have paid attention to ingredient information in BPC products, ingredients from plants (78%), plant extracts (72%), traditional Chinese medicine ingredients (65%) and ingredients from animals (52%) are all considered to be more natural ingredients. Comparing various types of ingredients, consumers believe that plant-derived ingredients have relatively low skin irritation risks. In addition, although ingredients from microorganisms (42%) and peptides (40%) are considered the latest trend, consumers believe that their efficacy is not as recognized as plant-derived ingredients.

Anne Yin concluded, “It is getting more and more difficult for one ingredient to suit all consumers. Instead, brands could start segmenting their products via ingredients and formulations to fit into different consumer segments’ preferences. If manufacturers want to communicate a natural image but not sacrifice efficacy, ingredients from plants are the first choice. However, showing the link between these ingredients and their functions could be necessary to facilitate future popularity, such as through communicating their functional mechanisms and presenting their tested skin benefit results.”

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