Where are Chinese consumers going for their cosmetics?

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Where are Chinese consumers going for their cosmetics?
Marketing consulting firm, Westwin, publishes its first report on how Chinese shoppers are making their product and purchasing purchases.

A certified advertising partner of China's leading digital platforms including Baidu, Tencent WeChat and Sina Weibo, Westwin has conducted and released a report​ exploring the needs of Chinese consumers when it comes to their buying decisions. 

The rising middle class and increasing disposable income of China’s citizens have impacted the brands, cosmetics and personal care items that shoppers select.

On the 31st July 2018, Westwin explained that Chinese consumers are looking for international companies and the study found that overseas purchases hit almost $200 bn (€146 bn) in 2017.

Outbound travellers contribute $115.29 bn (€98.6 bn) via purchases made during trips in 2017, with this figure expecting to jump by 4.3% in 2018.

What's influencing China's buying decisions?

Focusing on cross-border business, Westwin teamed up with a third-party research firm to create the report, which explores three categories of Chinese consumers and provides information and insights on how China’s society, economy and growing cross-border trade is changing the purchasing landscape in China.

"As Chinese consumers' appetite for cross-border shopping grows, Westwin has been working on creating strategies for global businesses to better appeal to this booming and fast-moving market,"​ outlined Anderson Liu, CEO of Westwin.

"Our study is the first on cross-border consumption that includes overseas residents, thus offering the most relevant, up-to-date, holistic consumer profile to China watchers, the public and retailers."

In 2017, overseas Chinese residents made up $84.25 bn (€72 bn) of the total spend and this figure is expected to rise by 5.12% in 2018. Westwin’s report finds that the country’s cross-border e-commerce volume reached $63.52 bn (€53.5 bn) last year, which provides significant trade deals and investments.

Top 5 Trends

1. M-commerce and payment options

Credit cards and cash are not clear frontrunners in China as shoppers access the latest technology instead. Mobile payment platform Alipay is the most popular choice in China as voted for by 91% of online domestic buyers and 69% of international travellers.

2. Cosmetics leads

Cosmetics is in the top four most popular product categories in China. Notably, Westwin highlights how stereotypes around Chinese males' lack of interest in how they look “need to be rethought”​. Report figures indicate that 77% of males shop for cosmetics digitally, not far off the 90% of females who go online for beauty products.

3. Marketing social

Westwin’s report identified the power of social media in influencing Chinese cross-border shoppers in their decision-buying processes. Of the total number of shoppers that use online platforms, 60% are using WeChat and Weibo to search out information and look at advertisements.  

More than merely impacting purchasing selections, cosmetics shoppers and consumers place a reliance on social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo. Of those asked, 48% of international travellers and 30% of overseas residents use these before buying international products.

Even local brands will need to focus their attention on advertising to reflect buyers' preferred platforms.

4. Tmall dominance

The online retailer reigns supreme for cosmetics with Tmall the favoured e-tailer for 53% of Chinese cosmetics consumers. Pitching the product correctly and choosing appropriate marketing messages is important, yet carefully selecting the sales partner is also necessary to marry products and platforms as opposed to gearing at the leading platform.  

5. Know your messaging

Story, origin and culture are crucial purchasing factors for more than 40% of overseas residents and travellers.

In addition to family and friends having a key role on what, how, why, when, who and which products and services consumers opt for, Key Opinion Leaders (Influencers) also strongly affect this.  

The community at large and wider environment notice a brand’s persona and its overall image, going far beyond the target market.

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