China, known for its complexity and difficulties for brands to enter or gain traction, is key for DSM, hence the goal of wanting to better understand consumer needs, trends and frustrations.
The findings are a result of the brand literally going into women’s homes in Beijing and Wuhan back in March.
“In all the markets I have visited for research, this really is a very exciting one, where you can feel an undercurrent of change happening. Chinese women talked very differently to Western consumers about beauty and decoding whitening and anti-aging was complex and challenging," says global consumer and market insights manager, David Paxton.
According to DSM, the information has already led to a variety of launches for 2015, specifically around whitening, anti-ageing and pollution.
'The role of Chinese women is changing': All Chinese women recognized the importance and deep cultural roots of the female role in society, but according to DSM, an evolution is happening.
Women described previous generations as being compliant to this ‘ideal’ female role, where younger generations want to become more influential in society, but still combine this with traditional and cultural beliefs.
“Women need to shout to be heard”: This direct quote the team heard in Wuhan sums up what people feel when living in the world’s most populated country.
But, this doesn't mean that they want to be center of attention. Quite the opposite in fact, as they also told DSM that “drawing too much attention is ugly and not feminine”.
The Ying and Yang of beauty aspirations: Like most countries, women defined beauty as being about the inner and outer elements; how you look and your personality.
However, in China, DSM saw that there is far more emphasis placed on the inner than they see in many Western countries, with many women wishing to prove they are beautiful before showing that they are.
But looks are important too! They saw that women place a lot of emphasis on the importance, and their responsibility, to maintain and do “the best with what I have so that I have the best chance in life”.
“Skin should look like a freshly peeled lychee”: Understanding the complexity of skin whitening and hair loss, both of which have deep cultural significance, was key for DSM in unlocking what the ultimate skin and hair look is.
Combining this with a full understanding of women’s deep rooted anxiety over aging, DSM built a consumer framework of skin and hair care to allow for new innovations.