25 January 2022

With China’s breakneck economic growth, local consumers are increasingly concerned with pleasure. This has facilitated the rapid development of the beauty and skincare industries from 2017-2021. The viral trends of Home Facial Pro, Perfect Diary, Florasis accelerated extension. With billions of dollars invested, beauty and skincare have become one of the hottest industry sectors.

Looking back on 2021, the growth rate of cosmetics retail slowed down, and many foreign cosmetics brands withdrew from the Chinese market. The number of fines issued by national and local food and drug administrations have repeatedly reached new highs. A number of new regulations were implemented, and the threshold for registration and filing of beauty and skincare brands was raised. Let’s take a look at some of the trends that shaped this historic year for the China beauty market as well as the impacts of KOL and KOC marketing on brand success.

Intensifying Competition

In 2021, e-commerce live-streaming became viral and transformed the China beauty market into a wildly competitive stage. ‘No one expected that beauty and skincare would become so competitive, but now it has entered the most intense year in the history of this industry,’ said Xiaokun Liu, chairman of Geoskincare at the 2021 China Beauty Expo. ‘In addition to the competition between old and new domestic brands, competition between domestic brands and foreign brands is also growing. This trend is not conducive to brand innovation’.

For example, heavy competition around last year’s 520 shopping festival led both international and domestic brands to push limited edition gift boxes and go overboard with celebrity endorsements. YSL released its 520 limited edition golden lipstick gift box. Then on 13 May, YSL announced Mika and Liu Zhang, members of Chinese band INTO1, as its new brand ambassadors. YSL held a live-stream with Mika and Zhang on its Tmall store on 16 May to raise awareness and increase consumption.

L’Oréal didn’t rest on its laurels either, releasing its own limited edition series including an eight-colour eyeshadow palette, 666 lipstick and handbag. L’Oréal also released its 520 “First Kiss” lipstick gift box in collaboration with Lun Deng, Yuxi Ding, Zheyuan Chen and other celebrities.

Increasing Male Consumption in Beauty and Skincare

For a long time, male consumption in the China beauty market has always been at the bottom of the ladder. Recently, a consumption power ranking has been circulating among China’s B2C marketing community: females > children > the elderly > dogs > males.

But times are changing. The male beauty and skincare market reached ¥540 billion in 2021.

This “male economy” is quietly burgeoning and slowly entering the public view. According to Di Xin, General Manager of Tmall Cosmetics, men’s make-up, body care and other beauty and skincare categories saw 3-digit growth, with male perfume consumption to increase 3-fold within four years. Xin also announced that Tmall will upgrade men’s beauty and fragrance into two independent categories.

As males increasingly begin using more beauty and skincare products, male spending in the China beauty market will continue its exponential growth.

On one hand, SK-II, POLA, L’Oréal, IOPE, Biotherm, Kiehl’s and other international brands have largely staked their turf in the high-end male China beauty market. On the other hand, rising domestic brands such as MakeSense, Lanseral, dearBOYfriend and JACB are increasing their capital and marketing budgets, and are poised to conquer their respective market segments in no time.

Domestic Beauty and Skincare Brands Enter the Spotlight

The rapid annual growth of the China beauty market is no surprise. This indicates growing attention towards skincare by Chinese consumers, particularly towards products with quality ingredients and high-efficacy skincare products designed to address problematic skin concerns. This trend has become a significant contributor to the expansion of the China beauty market.

Previously, the China beauty market centred mainly around French beauty and skincare brands. Recently however, increased R&D spending and the Guochao (国朝) wave have enabled domestic brands to seize a greater share of the China beauty market; in 2021, the market share of China skincare brands lept to 29.8%. The potential for this trend to continue is massive.

In Tier One and Tier Two cities, nearly 40% of Gen Z’s become active beauty and skincare users at 16-18 years old, compared to 23-25 in 1990 and after 25 years old in 1985.

In summary

The China beauty market is characterised by its massive scale and rapid growth. In 2022, as competition heats up among the big brands, domestic beauty and skincare brands will increase their share of the China beauty market. High-efficacy skincare and anti-aging will be all the rage for beauty and skincare enthusiasts.

Furthermore, beauty and skincare are no longer female-exclusive. As the consumption power of Chinese males increases, this segment of the China beauty market cannot be underestimated or overlooked.

To capture this lucrative market, successful beauty and skincare brands have adopted tactical strategies to catch a ride on market trends and even create a few of their own. KOL and KOC marketing have become a mandatory part of any strategy for brands in China, in particular for beauty and skincare brands.

Most successful beauty and skincare brands in China employ a 3-prong influencer marketing strategy:

  • Using celebrities for product endorsements
  • Using beauty KOLs for guiding social media thought and opinion
  • Using KOCs and ordinary consumers to share authentic product reviews to build brand trust.

As two distinct but equally important strategies for influencing consumption trends, KOL and KOC marketing work together to build brand following and trust. KOL and KOC marketing are both vital connections between brands and consumers. As social commerce continues to maintain its grasp on the China beauty market, brands should pay attention to their KOC marketing strategies and encourage KOCs to create content for their brand. KOC marketing enables brands to increase their product exposure and build confidence with target consumers through authentic, original content created by KOCs combined with the massive reach provided by KOLs.

Pull up WeChat on your mobile and scan the QR code to get the latest on KOC marketing!

About 评价达人 – PJdaren:

Since 2016, PJdaren has helped some of the world’s largest brands build trust, collect insights and drive sales in China by engaging Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs) and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) through our state-of-the-art influencer marketing platform.

Our software and services connect brands with our over 4 million-strong KOC and KOL community. We facilitate targeted, authentic conversations and content, enabling brands to capture the market with measurable results.