Part 2

Cosmeceuticals on the rise in China: What should brands do?

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Cosmeceuticals on the rise in China: What should brands do?
As the cosmeceuticals sector is carving out a unique name for itself and strong reputation with shoppers, we look at the attitudes impacting these trends and challenges that brands should strive to overcome to boost its appeal.

Chinese consumers perceive cosmeceuticals as natural, safe and free from side effects. They are also deemed to have obvious and clear efficacy, with a mild and non-irritative nature.

Today, customers expect cosmetics items that contain effective ingredients and that are milder than skin care products. Cosmeceuticals provide a reliable solution that meets this demand. 

Education and reassurance

Consumer awareness is high with developers launching apps to enable shoppers to check the safety rating and effectiveness while on-the-go and before purchase.

The Korean HwaHae app provides cosmetics analysis to indicate ingredient information and product reviews from real users. Meipu’s skin diagnostics app in China, along with Neutrogena’s skinscanner app used to test skin, are also maximising the amount of information available to shoppers.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) sets strict standards regarding ingredients and uses data to support the effects and long-lasting capabilities of products. This is something consumers in China and Asia care deeply about and so is familiar to brands. 

Transparency is key

Active ingredients are very important, Mintel found. Consumers are not likely to buy items containing formaldehyde, colourants or parabens, yet they may buy those with fragrances, sunscreen agents or acid.

“As Mintel Trend ‘Bannedwagon’ highlights, consumers are focusing on labels, ingredients and production methods, indicating that it is important for cosmeceuticals brands to take a transparent approach to their labels and ingredients list, letting consumers know how the formulas work,”​ reinforced Jin.

Data and institutional endorsement help to indicate a cosmeceutical product’s quality, Mintel’s research identified. To support this, over half of urban Chinese consumers say they believe that a product is high quality if it has precise data to support it (55%) or if it is authorised by a professional institute (52%).

Marketing and sales styles

Markets around the world have varying styles when it comes to marketing their cosmeceutical items.

Chinese brands tend to collaborate with hospitals and also leverage their rich history and experience with herbal medicines to boost interest and form part of their story.

While Korea focuses on emphasising their place in clinics and high-end beauty salons, Japanese brands typically have clear labels and focus on whitening benefits.

If we move away from Asia and look at the global market, it’s apparent that US names concentrate on ingredients, French brands take advantage of thermal spring water and its benefits, and German brands rely on skin care.

So what can brands do?

Upgrading store concepts in 2017 was a repetitive marketing approach seen from big names such as Watsons, Gialen and Mannings. These stores are separating their own dermacosmetics items from the rest of the store. These brands are also launching their own cosmeceuticals brands.

Gialen, for example, has created four of its own in China, in early 2018 to emphasise simpler formulations, safety and ingredients and good effectiveness. This is aligned with Chinese consumers understanding of cosmeceuticals.

“A product’s effectiveness and safety are both equally important to Chinese consumers. When setting product claims against cosmeceuticals, it is essential that manufacturers are aware that consumers highly value scientific data and endorsement from professional institutes to substantiate a product’s quality and effectiveness,”​ enforced Jin.

“To further penetrate the Chinese market, cosmeceuticals can also consider providing in-store services such as skin type tests through the use of devices, as well as engaging pharmacists to increase credibility,”​ concluded Jin.

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