The top 5 trends set to shape APAC’s cosmetics sector in 2019 revealed

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

The top 5 trends set to shape APAC’s cosmetics sector in 2019 revealed
We’ve identified five key trends that we believe are going to have a major impact on the beauty and personal care industry in Asia-Pacific this year.

1. Australian natural expansion

With unique flora and fauna, Australia is home to a wealth of skin-loving ingredients, giving Australasian beauty an edge in becoming the next big thing.

And with wellness and health at the forefront of people’s minds today, the pristine image of the countries’ natural environments is massively appealing to Asian consumers.

“Although the consumers of South East Asia are actually all different from different cultures, religions, and demographics and socially they all aspire to keep healthy and maintain good skin for everyday purposes,”​ said Peter Bosevski, Global Marketing & Sales Manager for G&M Cosmetics.

In September, the company expanded into Malaysia with its Australian Creams MKII range following strong demand in the region.

“As the South East Asian consumer becomes more international savvy and educated, consumers are also adopting for more international skincare brands which are developed from high quality and natural ingredients that they can trust,” ​said Bosevski.

As China continues to seek out more natural and organic products, Australia is poised to fulfil the demand thanks to the established daigou channels such as, which offer smaller Australian companies an easy way into China.

Bondi Goddess, an Aussie brand that is only available through daigou channels, realised there was a huge demand for Australian-made cosmetics but no Australian brand formulated product specifically for Asian skin.

“Our products are certified 100% Australian made and owned, and we made sure we focused our packaging on what appeals to younger Asian women, particularly those under 30, which is our core target market,”​ said Erin Plummer, founder of Bondi Goddess.

2. J-beauty comeback

For the past few years, Japanese cosmetics has been eclipsed by the relentless K-Beauty wave. However, J-Beauty is ready to retake the beauty crown.

As Asia’s beauty pioneer, Japan can easily overtake Korean cosmetic products given their expertise, technology and reputation for high-quality.

Japanese personal care company, Kao Corporation told Cosmetics Design Asia that it believes J-Beauty is being elevated because of its strength in dermatological research and development.

And as consumers continue on their quest for holistic living, Kao believes they will be drawn to Japanese products as they come from a culture where taking care of your skin is almost tradition.

“For the Japanese, skincare is not just about “improvement" of negative conditions, such as anti-aging or skin troubles, it is about taking care of yourself. These beauty traditions are underpinning brands and products that cherish the "method" or SAHO, such as double facial cleansing, double moisturising, touching the skin with your hands, self-massage and so on.”

It added that its luxury brand SENSAI places a lot of emphasis on the SAHO concept, which extolls the virtues of rituals such as double cleansing and double moisturizing. “This careful approach to skincare is a concept with universal appeal.”

The firm revealed that they will continue to strengthen its global brand portfolio, which includes both masstige and luxury brands.

Currently, the company is working on an aggressive campaign for KATE, one of the most popular high-street brands in Asia. Recently, Kao launched a campaign starring popular actor Peng Yu Yan to strengthen its presence in China. For next year, the company plans to build on the momentum by continuously developing new campaigns.

3. Demand for luxury

Known for high-end brands such as Albion, THREE, Astalift and SK-II, the resurgence of Japanese cosmetics is partly due to the sudden popularity for prestige brands.

During its Q1 2019 Earnings Call, The Estee Lauder Companies said that the rising middle class is aspiring for luxury products. With more disposable income in millennials and Gen Z consumers, the company is noticing strong interest for luxury beauty in Asia-Pacific, especially in Chinese consumers.

“Prestige beauty growth in department stores in China continued to grow more than 20% and we gained share, while sales in specialty multi and online more than doubled,”​ said Tracey Thomas Travis, executive vice president and CFO of Estee Lauder Cos.

“We also achieved excellent sales growth in Japan, where we experienced growth across all channels, including department stores, specialty multi and online. Taiwan and Malaysia were also up double digits and we had single-digit growth in Australia.”

Kao, which successfully launched Sofina into China and other parts of Asia, plans to bring its two biggest luxury brands, SENSAI and Kanebo to China in the near future.

“The number of customers seeking more luxurious and highly effective products is increasing and Kao plans to strengthen luxury brands in addition to freeplus, KATE and Sofina, and intend to acquire customers who have higher beauty consciousness,” ​said the company.

4. Smart tech revolution

As online channels become increasingly popular, companies are actively trying to make brick-and-mortar stores more attractive to consumers by enhancing them with smart technology.

SK-II has harnessed state-of-the-art technology to launch the Future X Smart Store, a pop-up store that provides consumers with highly-personalised self-shopping experience.

The store employed high-tech toys such as facial recognition and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to offer an intimate, immersive and personalised shopping experience.

At the smart store, consumers purchased products by scanning a specially designed bracelet, eliminating the need for cash, credit cards, or a mobile application.

Sandeep Seth, Chief Executive Officer of SK-II Global said: “Given the state of the retail landscape today, we see a great opportunity to adapt to new shopping behaviours and redefine the role of both product sales and beauty counsellors with our personalised approach.”

This year, the Meitu Magic Mirror, a smart device powered by Augmented Reality (AR) has been making its way into retailers such as DFS and Watsons.

In October, Watsons launched the Magic Mirror in two stores in Hong Kong, and has plans to roll out the device to 30 more stores by the first half of 2019. In addition to the Magic Mirror, Meitu upgraded its BeautyCam app with a skin analysis feature that will be able to offer users product recommendations from Watsons.

5. Beauty for Him

In October, L'Oréal China and Tmall collaborated to study the male beauty market in China.

Their white paper found that total sales of male-beauty products in China grew 59% and 54% in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, respectively. The latter figure, notes the report, is a percentage of a larger consumer base, highlighting the market’s potential.

On Tmall, purchases of male-specific brands by men on Tmall are were up 56%. Of these purchases, Tmall saw high double-digit increase across all categories, including skincare, body, fragrance and hair. Similarly, purchases of luxury make-up by men increased by a whopping 218% this fiscal year.

Based on this research, L'Oréal China and the Tmall Innovation Centre (TMIC) entered a partnership to develop a male beauty line tailored just for the Chinese market.

The future of male grooming is likely in colour cosmetics. This year, Chanel released Boy de Chanel, a three-piece capsule make-up collection that was first launched in South Korea.

In the same month, Japanese firm ACRO launched FIVEISM × THREE which consists of lipsticks, eyeshadows and nail colours for men.

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