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In My Opinion: Shanghai Rising

By: Peter Kelly
Posted: April 2, 2007

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“Shanghai is the design center of Asia,” said one senior vice president of a U.S. global brand. So much so that his company will open an innovations center later this year just to monitor the Chinese market and track trends–and no doubt the competition, as well. I also met the CEO of a successful Munich, Germany-based design agency who had recently opened a Shanghai operation staffed with one of his own team, who had recruited “the cream of Shanghai” design graduates to build a Chinese platform for the business. He expects his new Shanghai operation to outstrip European revenues within three years.

Were one to walk the floor of Cosmoprof Shanghai and then take a trip into any new department store in the city, he’d be forgiven for thinking he had left the halls of HBA in New York or Cosmoprof Las Vegas only to wander into Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s. How many Chanel, Dior and Bobbi Brown counters are there in China now?  How many more new brands are preparing to enter the market? Unanswerable questions when these numbers seem to grow every day.

China is no El Dorado for the cosmetics industry, not when import duties are coming down and the product registration process is lengthy and complicated. There are still IP issues. But the Chinese market is tipped to double in size by 2012, and with a female population aged 16 to 45 whose numbers total nearly the entire combined populations of the U.S. and Japan, it’s one we cannot ignore.

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