According to a new study from Diagonal Reports, brands from certain countries are very highly sought after because Chinese buyers attribute what are regarded as national characteristics to brands.
The main example from the West is from France, as it continues to benefit from the historical status of Paris as the global arbiter of culture, especially in fashion and beauty.
“It is precisely these consumer attitudes which have contributed to making China one of the largest world markets for imported luxury skin care,” says the market researcher.
“What might seem like an obsession with prestige brands is, in fact, quite rational behaviour. The Chinese beauty buyer is willing to pay a premium for quality which – for them - means safety. All the retailers we talk to report that price has become a proxy for quality for consumers.”
With China tipped to soon become the world's largest economy, it may begin to have a big say in the beauty world; positioning itself as a reference point, as its vast population leads to increased purchasing power.
“China is a huge trading power, it exports more than the US but imports much less,” continues Diagonal.
“However, beauty imports are significant because Chinese consumers prefer foreign brands. Domestic beauty brands have suffered badly – either directly or indirectly - from serious quality and safety concerns.”
It turns out there is a lack of confidence and trust in the local beauty market, with the ‘made in China’ label failing to inspire confidence with Chinese buyers.
Beauty retailers from all across the country comment that suspicion is now so entrenched that multinational brands manufactured outside of China are more trusted than the exact same brands made in the country.
“A very definite pecking order of brands has been established by buyers,” adds the Chinese Beauty (Hair and Skincare) Consumer and Market 2014-2020 report.
“It is the actual country of manufacture which determines confidence and is the key factor which consumers use to rank brands.”
This means that Chinese beauty retailers and manufacturers which guarantee product quality and a counterfeit-free supply chain reap the rewards.