Consumer insight: Slow cosmeceutical growth in China amid lifestyle factors on skin

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Consumer insight: Slow cosmeceutical growth
Mintel reveals that two-thirds of Chinese consumers believe that lifestyle factors have an impact on the skin, yet cosmeceuticals are slow to gain uptake in China.

Recent research findings from global intelligence company, Mintel, highlight how 66% of urban Chinese consumers aged 20-49 who suffer from skin conditions state how lifestyle is a key cause of its skin complaints​.

Endocrine disorder and environmental pollution follow, with 47%  and 45% of consumers, respectively, highlighting their influence on the nature of the skin.

The research went on to emphasise how typically 72% of these consumers are more likely to alter their lifestyle, and 71% will dedicate more time and resources to their daily facial skin care regimen before actively treating their skin conditions.

Male and female findings

There is a clear divide between the attitudes and actions of males and female skin care product wearers. While 86% of male skin care condition sufferers stated they do not take any additional measures and instead wait for the skin to react/heal naturally, only 3% of females adopt this approach.

This split also relates to the most common skin conditions. Acne is the main concern of males (45% vs 38% among females), however, females are more likely to state dark spots/pigments as a key concern (36% vs 24% of males).

Looking at cosmeceuticals 

While Chinese medical beauty has been a long stay, the cosmeceuticals industry is yet to make a transformative impact and currently has low uptake compared to other global regions.

“Minor skin conditions seem to be no big deal for Chinese consumers,”​ said Alice Li, research analyst at Mintel.

Highlighting the typical behaviour of Chinese consumers when it comes to cosmeceuticals, Li went on: “The majority of them don’t bother to use specialised products or take medicines to treat their skin conditions. In order to broaden the consumer base and usage frequencies, cosmeceuticals need to promote more preventative usage by positioning the products as a holistic approach to maintaining healthy skin, or address lifestyle factors, such as stress or lack of sleep, which is regarded as the number one cause of skin conditions in China, according to our research.”

Cosmeceuticals vs. dermatology

There is a key divide between domestic cosmeceuticals and Western cosmeceuticals, otherwise known as dermocosmetics. Chinese cosmeceuticals concentrate on specific skin condition treatments, often with traditional Chinese medicine or herbal medicine, unlike dermocosmetics which relate to dermatology.

Both skin care products containing claims relating to dermatological testing and sensitive skin have increased. Dermatologically testing has risen from 3.3% of new product launches in 2015 to 8.9% in 2017, Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD)​ identified.

“As Chinese consumers highly value scientific data and endorsement from professional institutes to support product quality, dermatologically tested claims could help local brands build a professional and effective image,”​ Li added.

As part of its research, Mintel found that cosmeceuticals are thought of as milder than general skin care products by 66% of respondents. Of those asked, 74% agree that cosmeceuticals must contain enough effective ingredients. Of those surveyed, 60% believe that cosmeceuticals formulated with fewer ingredients are safer, while 62% are worried that long-term cosmeceuticals use may result in dependence.

“Our research shows that urban Chinese consumers have two equally important, yet potentially competing demands for skin care product ingredients; they need a star ingredient to demonstrate efficacy and as few chemicals as possible at the same time,”​ emphasised Li.

“Cosmeceutical brands could highlight their safety and mildness compared with general facial skincare products, and the positive impacts they have on maintaining healthy skin. Brands also have to do more to change the image that long-term usage may result in dependence,”​ Li concluded.

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