China’s beauty market has remained strong in 2020, even during lockdown. It has since quickly recovered to not only full strength but year-on-year growth for many global luxury players.
It’s a dynamic market that makes best use of cutting edge new technology and social commerce.
We had a catch up with industry expert Lin Lin. Lin Lin is Co-chair CEO of China International Beauty Expo (CIBE, founded in 1989), responsible for the organisation’s six beauty and wellness shows per year, in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen. CIBE is the first and largest B2B Beauty & Wellness trade fair in Asia that showcases top-to-bottom industry supply chain with over 1 million square metres exhibition space total per year.
Lin Lin sits on the board of All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce Beauty Culture & Cosmetic Chamber, as the Head of International Relations, oversees all countries affair department and travel for trade missions globally on behalf of the industry chamber.
How has the CIBE coped in 2020 and what’s coming next?
CIBE was founded by my mother Madam Ma Ya in 1989, as the first beauty and wellness industry trade fair in China. We considered ourselves lucky and proud to be one of the very few trade fair businesses that have been through SARS and Covid that is still standing and growing.
On the 13th June 2020, we were informed by the authority about the final dates that we could finally start hosting events after 5 months of uncertainty. That left us less than 30 days for preparation to present the 23,000sqm trade show, over 50 on-site conferences, with four security health check-points for entry. All of us prayed every day for the half of a million visitors and staffs’ safety. I remember the day we wrapped up our first show of this year back in July in Shanghai, that I realised time steals some things and gives us back something else.
Following CIBE Shanghai in July, we had hosted Guangzhou, Beijing and our wellness fair in Shenzhen. We are preparing to launch our new expo as we speak. The “Live-Streaming Supply-Chain Expo” will be opened on Christmas day in Guangzhou, we are expecting 101,929 registered visitors to date. Live-streaming is no longer a trend but became a distribution channel in 2020 during social distancing, with a new set of regulatory governance and progressive social selling technologies.
What are you seeing from the consumers side regarding trends and behaviours?
It has been reported that younger consumers are feeling plain and simple celebrity fatigue. Gen Z consumers are looking for authentic engagement with brands and more ‘real’ people. The influencer management agencies are going through a filtering process. A set of new laws for live-streaming and anti-monopoly is being reinforced to regulate social selling platforms from TMall, WeChat, Tiktok, Little Red Rook and such. Some of the aims are to ensure real engagement – likes, comments and shares – as well as genuine products and officially licensed and regulated sellers.
Where is growth coming from in the sector?
We see promising growth for skincare and wellness products in 2020. After all, health concerns do not only raise the awareness of China and its huge ageing population but also the youngest anti-ageing beauty consumers. From as young as age 16, they are knowledgeable users spread out in all tiers of Chinese cities, some are already the KOCs (key opinion consumers) who are sharing their beauty tips on various social platforms with large followings.
For best-selling cosmetics, the skincare category still dominates, while the subcategories including facial masks, facial cleansers, and serum are leading the way. The top 5 trending ingredients – with major functional claims – are hyularonic acid for moisturising, nicotinamide for anti-pigmentation, brightening, anti-aging, anti-acne, amino acid mainly in facial cleansers for mild cleansing, ceramide for moisturising, skin barrier repairing and soothing, anti-ageing and centella Asiatica for skin barrier repairing and anti-oxidant.
CBD, a popular buzzword for the Cheng Fen Dang (Formulation and Ingredient Savvy), community is getting their interest as the development and regulatory policies are lighter for cosmetics than food or OTT medicine.
The latest data on August 2020 from NMPA (National Medical Products Administration that issues CFDA licensing) found there were 48,210 Chinese Functional Skincare products registered successfully.
Where does C-Beauty stand now?
Particularly for colour cosmetics, Chinese shoppers are becoming more confident in shopping for domestic brands. The price and quality of Chinese brands are competitive domestically. However, we do not forget the selling of colour cosmetics is all about the look – and it’s not only about the look moving forwards. Young Chinese beauty shoppers are knowledgeable and demand products that are good for their wellbeing, communities and conscious living.
Since COVID-related shutdowns first began, the Chinese cosmetics industry has experienced an increase in the number of product categories manufactured. Part of this growth has been driven by the new categories of product orders placed by domestic and foreign companies. This means that the manufacturing industry in China is growing and taking on a bigger portion of the global beauty industry.
What are some C-Beauty brands that international brands should learn from?
Chinese brand are starting to flourish, from fashion to beauty and wellness. Apart from Perfect Diary, Winowa, MarieDalga, the men’s skincare brand Make Essense; SOR and Uniskin are interesting brands to watch out for.
I shared my view on the opening speech for this year’s CIBE that may serve a better understanding of the successful C-beauty brands. Pricing and quality evaluations are no longer the only concerns for the upcoming generation of consumers. A new definition of ” Xin Jia Bi” sums up the 3 keys elements of these brands commonalities: Trust, Empathy and Relevancy.
They have gained trust by managing customer’s expectation of their products; they showed empathy by painting vivid situations that consumers encounter; they managed to offer timely and relevant products by building communities through two-way engagement.
It’s never the brand speaking to the consumers but there’s ongoing talk, discussion, chat, between consumers and the brand.