John Fu, head of the Design Trend Institute of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, believes that international cosmetic companies still do not have a firm understanding on the Chinese consumers’ needs when it comes to make-up.
He claimed that international companies were not investing enough to produce make-up products for the Chinese people.
He suggested that these cosmetic companies could research more about the different regions of China to better understand the needs and concerns to produce more suitable products.
“China is huge and different regions of China have their own different styles, likes and dislikes. For example, in the Tibetan region, there is harsh weather so consumers will need style and products that are suitable for that particular climate.”
He added that this gap in the market was an opportunity for smaller local beauty brands to develop a niche for themselves.
The changing face of beauty
Fu suggested that Chinese beauty consumers were in a stage of transformation and are looking for make-up styles that are more suitable for their Asian features.
As such, they are turning to Chinese television dramas for inspiration.
“Make-up is still relatively new in China. Consumers are still at the discovery stage. They are still finding themselves and they look to celebrities as a model. It is how they experiment.”
Additionally, the popularity of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) make it easier for consumers to learn how to apply make-up.
Fu believes the influence of KOLs has also sparked a change in the mindset of Chinese consumers when it comes to make-up.
“In the past, Chinese people thought make-up was reserved for the rich, famous and beautiful. However, make-up has been democratised. To the generation born after the 90s especially, you can wear make-up whoever you are,” said Fu.
At the same time, Chinese consumers are beginning to value imperfection, he added.
“It’s a value influenced by the West. It’s not about having the ideal look. They want to look like themselves even with make-up.”
Lipsticks are the key
According to Fu, the popular style of make-up is still the natural look. “Make-up is like a brand-new thing in China, so most consumers are not brave enough to use colour.”
However, he believes this will change very quickly thanks to lip products.
With a variety of types, textures and colours, Fu said lip products are a gateway to experimenting with more make-up.
“Lipsticks are a good starting point for consumers. They are easy to use and there are a variety of brands offering inexpensive lipsticks in many colours. Chinese consumers buy cheaper lipsticks first, then slowly spend more and more till it becomes a luxury lipstick.”
He added that lipsticks are probably the most popular make-up item among Chinese consumers.