Opportunity knocks While the market is potentially highly lucrative for foreign players, cultural differences and complicated legal requirements are barriers to success. China Business Solutions says it can help international companies overcome these challenges and realize the potential of the booming market. The UK-based firm said its own research indicates that the cosmetics market in the country is growing between 13 and 15 percent a year and international products represent 70 per cent of turnover suggesting consumers are open to foreign brands. Having helped several UK-based cosmetics companies export to China, the consulting firm has conducted significant research on the current market conditions and is looking to use this to help more cosmetics companies enter the Chinese market. "One revelation of our research is that Chinese men born in the 70s and 80s are as interested in using cosmetics as women," said China Business Solutions' CEO Ting Zhang. "This may surprise many in the West; nonetheless, sales of male cosmetics products of all kinds are increasing." China Business Solutions provides tailor made services to exporters and can help inform them about market trends but also warn them of potential pitfalls and help them comply with arduous rules and regulations. Market challenges The firm's project coordinator Frances Cui told CosmeticsDesign.com: "Getting an import license is a particularly complicated process requiring companies to test products, detail formulas and liaise with local authorities." Foreign companies trading in China have to obtain a sanitary license form the Ministry of Health and authorizations for each formula sold. Lengthy customs clearances can also await exporters. These barriers can catch foreign companies unawares but China Business Solutions claims it can make these challenges as painless as possible by setting up exporters with local partners. "In this situation, an experienced and reliable Chinese agent is critical for western cosmetics companies to meet China's strict regulation standards and to handle detailed Ministry and customs communications successfully," said Zhang.