Australia’s beauty and personal care market was supported by Chinese consumers, both local and international, who view Australian products with high regard. Chinese consumers are attracted to Australian products, not only in beauty and personal care but also in other industries including consumer health and packaged foods, which is due to the country’s clean and green reputation, strict regulations and quarantine control. Chinese consumers snapped up Australian-made beauty brands, particularly in skin care and bath and shower, with this trend supporting overall growth of the industry in 2016. Brands that resonate well with Chinese consumers are typically naturally positioned and feature natural ingredients.
Australian companies looked to capitalise on Chinese demand for Australian products, focusing on expanding their Chinese distribution as well as tailoring their products and retail stores to suit Chinese consumers. In 2016, chemist/pharmacy Amcal launched a Mandarin Chinese language version of its website, with the new store to ship orders from Australia to China. Australian online premium beauty retailer Adore Beauty opened a store on Chinese online platform Alibaba in 2016; however, the store was closed six months after opening, with the company to consider other channels to connect with Chinese consumers. Australian brand Goat Soap has become popular amongst Chinese consumers, with trade press reporting that the brand made AUD1 million in sales on China’s Singles’ day in 2016 through the company’s store on the Tmall platform.
The demand for Australian products is not expected to wane, with Australian-made and -owned companies to maintain their strong reputations locally and abroad. Australian-made products are more trusted and perceived as higher quality, with consumers willing to pay a premium for Australian-made. Australian companies will continue to focus on their China strategies, with an increasing number of sales expected to occur in China direct to consumers through Chinese e-commerce sites Tmall and JD.com. An increasing number of Australian companies and retailers have opened their own sites through these channels, as they look to capitalise on the demand from Chinese consumers.
China provides promising export opportunities for Australian beauty and personal care companies, particularly given the challenging operating conditions in Australia with the high level of discounting activity. Natural skin care company BWX has seen success with its skin care brand Sukin, which has been performing strongly through drugstores/parapharmacies in Australia. The brand is a cruelty-free and vegan range featuring natural ingredients. BWX has been eyeing the Chinese market and has established Sukin flagship stores on online retailers JD.com and Tmall, as the company looks to increase brand awareness among Chinese consumers. Pental Products is also focusing on its China strategy through the export of its Australian-made Pental products, including its Country Life and Velvet soaps. The company has launched “The Australian Country Life” brand of goat’s milk soap for export to China, specifically tailored to this market.