Asian beauty market dominated by brands from France, says expert

By Katie Nichol

- Last updated on GMT

Asian beauty market dominated by brands from France, says expert

Related tags Cosmetics China

Brands looking to tap into the Asian market face multiple challenges, according to Judith Higgins, CEO of GMD Group USA and her partner Chris Han, who note that while spending power is increasing, the Asian beauty market is largely dominated by brands from the US and France.

Cosmetics Design spoke to Higgins and Han in China, ahead of an educational session Judith is participating in at HBA Global Expo on 19th​ June 2012. Entitled, ‘How to Communicate Globally: Tapping into the Asian Markets’, the session will discuss relationship building, marketing and branding techniques and communicating beauty in Asia.

Moreover, the specialists in connecting beauty product manufacturers to major distributors worldwide, say that online sales and the celebrity effect are the most efficient ways to build up new brands on the Asian beauty market

According to Higgins and Han, while Japan is a key beauty market in Asia, it is experiencing many ups-and-downs in sales volume and China is rapidly catching up. By 2015, total China cosmetics sales are expected to reach 220bn RMB ($34.7bn).

Multiple challenges faced in cracking Asian market

In China, there is said to be ample room for beauty brands from other countries to expand their business. Switzerland was cited as a notable example, as “with leading innovation and technology, it actually produces the top beauty products in the world, but its market share in Asia remains limited, if not obscure.”

When it comes to communicating with Asian consumers, Higgins and Han say that a key strategy for beauty brands is to make their target audience feel important. A concrete example of this is the L’Oreal slogan of “Because You’re Worth It”, they said.

“The skill of making others feel important is almost gold in every occasion, and in this case, entering into the Asian market”​.

Successful strategy of DHC

Higgins and Han cited Japanese brand DHC as an example of a cosmetics brand that has successfully entered the Chinese market, where it began with Internet retail and became a well-known brand in just five years.

They highlighted that in contrast to Japanese brands Shiseido, Kanebo and Kose, which dominated the Chinese market for over two decades with clear, targeted brand stratifications designed for different age groups, DHC was an obscure brand facing the daunting task of entering one of the worlds biggest beauty markets.

The success of DHC in China, according to Higgins and Han, is linked to strategies such as focusing on online sales or home shopping to cut distribution costs, hiring celebrities to advertise products, and free samples and membership.

They also noted that DHC positioned itself towards a specific target audience such as entry level female professionals and university students, and after confirming the target customer group, set up shops or shop-in-shops in relevant districts.

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