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Marketing Matters: Chinese Culture and its Effect on Skin Care Trends in China

By: Liz Grubow
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the August 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In contrast to the Western desire for products with 2-in-1 qualities, such as a moisturizer and sunscreen in one, Chinese women want a more ritualistic process with separate steps. They are willing to invest more time to care for their skin. American women buy Olay’s Total Effects because it multi-tasks for them. In China, women buy Olay’s Aqua Hydration, which goes on before makeup.

Indulgent Application

Likewise, LPK has observed a trend in areas of skin concentration. Successful brands continue to extend with products such as facial masks, patches and product treatments for eyes—as well as product treatments for the chest.The mask is considered a luxury because it used to be a spa treatment, one that required time and money. Now, products such as the Natural White facial mask are readily available, so they are affordable but still require a time investment. Having to sit down and apply the mask appeals to Chinese consumers, who want to get away and indulge themselves. Again, the application process taps into their sense of ritual.

With an ancient history of Chinese medicinal practices, Chinese women believe that certain ingredients provide a healing benefit. Traditional medicinal herbs and plants such as ginseng are well-known and appeal to both younger and older women. The natural ingredients reassure them because they believe they are safer than other ingredients. Definity, a foaming moisturizer with glucosamine complex, is an example of a product with medicinal aspects. According to Global New Products Database, it contains green tea, which has been used for years in Asia because of its skin-nourishing antioxidants, and its use is expanding into other skin care products. For example, Youngblood introduced Liquid Mineral Foundation, formulated with green tea extract.

The skin care market in China continues to dominate the cosmetics and toiletries market, making it the largest contributor to the strong overall sales growth in the industry in 2004. The skin care industry in China, worth $3 billion, is growing by 20% year on year. As Chinese women gain more income, become more concerned about their appearance and learn more about skin care, the market will remain robust. To excel in this market, remember that Chinese women are being pulled in two directions: one that is influenced by the past and one that embraces the future.