Low product penetration accounts for slow growth in China’s color cosmetics market

By Pooja Kondhia

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Color cosmetics Marketing China

The Chinese color cosmetics market is forecast to continue to grow all the way in to 2015, increasing in value year-on-year, but slowly as it is likely to be hampered by low product penetration in comparison to other cosmetics sectors.

Between 2005 – 10, China’s color cosmetics market rose in value from RMB 7.8bn ($1.2bn) to approx RMB 14.3bn, an increase of nine percent.

However in comparison to the skin care market, which saw total sales in 2010 of RMB 64.2bn ($10bn) and growth of 13 percent, the color cosmetics sector only accounted for RMB 14.3bn ($2.2bn).

Traditional views

One of the main reasons for the relatively small size of this category is low product penetration, which is explained by a lack of tradition for the use of color cosmetics.

According to market research company Euromonitor, many women are more comfortable without using these products or wearing them solely on special occasions.

This is a completely contradictory view to that held by Chinese consumers, and particularly women, with regards to skin care, which is seen as a necessity and consequently accounts for a vast selecton of products on store shelves.

Looking at market share in terms of individual companies, it is L’Oréal that leads the color cosmetics category with a 37 percent share of the market in 2010.

The French cosmetics company benefits from a wide product offering targeting low- to mid-level income brackets, epitomized by mass brands such as L'Oreal Paris and Maybelline New York, together with products targeting high income consumers, including brands like Lancome and Shu Uemara.

Additionally, the company has a growing share of sales in second and third tier cities, as development moves outside of the main industrial and city hubs such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

L’Oréal appeals to a wide range of consumers as it is able to target both income and geographical location, which accounts for its large share of the market, the market research highlights.

Mistrusted luxury

Euromonitor also drew attention to the fact that the market suffers from being associated with luxury, a segment that is often mistrusted by consumers in China.

Concerns revolve around notions that these products could be harmful, particularly in reference to the commonly held beliefs that foundation and concealer clogs the skin, mascara can weaken lashes or that chemicals in nail products are damaging to the health.

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