Following the negative impact of home seclusion and strict lockdown measures in China, beauty and personal care has enjoyed a surge in sales growth, driven by demand for better skin health, products that enhance personal wellbeing, the rise of Chinese beauty, and the ineluctable momentum of e-commerce and new retail experiences.
According to Euromonitor International’s latest research, sales of beauty and personal care in China reached CNY573 billion in 2021, a rise of 10% on the previous year. Colour cosmetics and fragrances saw particularly impressive growth on the back of the wider recovery, with a notable increase in consumers trading up. This had a resultant impact on premium sales and product upgrades - a clear reaction to the pandemic, with people wanting to treat themselves and enjoy some glamour, following prolonged uncertainty and austere compromise.
Source: Euromonitor International Passport Data
Consumers focus on skin health, efficacy and holistic wellbeing
After a year of health fears in 2020, consumers were fast to sublimate their concerns in products that offer a heightened sense of personal wellbeing. Skin health in particular is a key focus; sales of dermocosmetic skin care rose by 19% in 2021, with a surge in demand for solutions targeting sensitive skin and maskne. Holistic wellbeing will stay a key trend – the pandemic has thrown this into focus, and the message that physical wellbeing is integral to mental health and personal happiness is becoming firmly entrenched.
Other categories in beauty echo this. Sun care has seen consumers gravitate to products with more diverse and sophisticated features, such as blue light shielding and haze protection. In comparison, hair care brands have seen emphasis shift towards scalp health and hair loss concerns, while oral care accentuated promises of gum health and even digestive health, such as helicobacter pylori treatment.
Source: Euromonitor International Passport Data
The rise of Chinese beauty
Beauty and personal care in China is also making significant gains through the rise of Chinese beauty. C-beauty brands are no longer considered a second or third choice substitute for established international brands; they’re winning consumers over with high quality, affordable prices, and market insight that understands and specifically caters to the preferences of Chinese consumers. For example, domestic make-up brand Florasis has won young consumers by listening to them and incorporating their feedback into product upgrades. The brand has over 200,000 users as “beauty co-creators”, who post their feedback on social media after receiving samples from Florasis during new product development.
Attentive, grass roots strategies such as this are one of the reasons domestic brands pose an increasing threat to leading multinational brands. Domestic brands now lead in some categories - Winona in dermocosmetics skin care, Florasis and Perfect Diary in colour cosmetics, Meifubao in sun care. Chinese beauty is one of the key trends behind growth in 2021 and into 2022, and these brands can be expected to gain in stature and underpin further high value gains in the future.
Rise of e-commerce and new retail experiences
With restrictions lifted, department stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets and health and beauty channels all saw sales recovery in 2021. However, accelerated by the pandemic, the dramatic rise of e-commerce looks set to remain a presiding influence in retail.
China is no exception to this global trend. Physical retail spaces need to offer something different – an experience that motivates consumers to attend in person. New beauty specialist stores, such as Harmay, are gaining traction by offering a wide range of brands and supporting these with sample-selling strategies to trial ranges, while actively leveraging social media to generate buzz. Similarly, many brands are partnering with e-commerce platforms to launch exclusive, online products. For example, leading domestic brand Winona has participated with Tmall Black Box to launch its new serum for sensitive skin, looping in consumer feedback online. E-commerce can be expected to remain the leading retail channel and growth engine in China beauty, and the industry is embracing this rapid omnichannel transformation.
The resurgence of COVID-19 in the first half of 2022 has clear implications for retail overall, and beauty and personal care is no exception. The development of the Omnicron outbreak, which has spread to many regions across China, is an obstacle to growth in the wake of strict home seclusion restrictions and the temporary closure of retail stores. However, the trends outlined here can be expected to prove resilient. Consumers and Chinese society are becoming steadily acclimatized to the virus; the severity of its impact on retail can be expected to be less pronounced than in 2020, while the rapid evolution of e-commerce and retail digitilisation spearhead new growth opportunities.
For further insight, see the full report on Beauty and Personal Care in China. Analysis and key data findings for all Euromonitor International’s 100 research countries can be found here. These reports provide an in-depth understanding of national market dynamics and offer essential local insight unavailable elsewhere.