In-cosmetics global trends to watch

Eyes on China: Local C-beauty brands creating ‘unique competitiveness’ in market

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Many C-beauty brands were 'born online' and therefore connect easily with younger consumers (Getty Images)
Many C-beauty brands were 'born online' and therefore connect easily with younger consumers (Getty Images)

Related tags c-beauty China e-commerce trends digital Mintel

Smaller, local Chinese players are carving out a successful and competitive beauty category, developing highly social, online and value-for-money brands that connect well with younger consumers, says Mintel.

Next month’s in-cosmetics Global will host a series of educational sessions across several dedicated spaces, including a sustainability corner, innovation zone and marketing trends theatre – digging into important trends and issues for the global cosmetics and personal care category.

And one focus will be China – looking at what type of inspiration the global beauty world can draw from this mega market.

C-beauty in a ‘fast-growing phase’

Alice Li, senior beauty and personal care analyst at Mintel – due to present a session on C-beauty trends to watch – said China beauty was taking off quickly.

Currently in a “fast-growing phase”​, Li told CosmeticsDesign-Europe it was local brands that were gaining market share from global beauty majors in this space, building a “unique competitiveness”​ and “becoming trend-setters in some categories”.

In the past, she said these local brands had been perceived as “cheap and inferior”​ but this view had now shifted.

“I think the most crucial reason is they get hold of the great changes happening in the Chinese beauty market in recent years – young consumers, e-commerce and digital marketing.”

“The influence of a younger generation of beauty consumers – mainly 18-24-year olds – is quickly growing in China. They are digital natives, heavy users of social media, have a fast purchase cycle, low brand loyalty, not very high spending power, and unbiased attitudes towards local brands, making them the perfect audience for C-beauty.” 

Many C-beauty brands were ‘born online’

Alice Li, senior beauty and personal care analyst at Mintel
Alice Li, senior beauty and personal care analyst at Mintel

Li said many C-beauty brands had chosen online channels as “their main battlefields”​ – which helped easily reach and build a close relationship with this younger target.

“While foreign brands are cautiously exploring e-commerce or working with beauty influencers, some C-beauty brands have been born online and have built their presence on all kinds of digital touchpoints, not only the traditional shopping platforms, but also social media, live streaming and video sharing websites,” ​she said.

“…They focus on creating best-sellers in trendy categories instead of maintaining a comprehensive portfolio, and are active on IP collaboration and crossover, adding social elements in their products which younger consumers are willing to post online.”

Importantly, C-beauty brands were also firmly focused on value for money – “an important attribute”​ for these younger consumers, Li said.

C-beauty to be the next K-beauty storm?

But, could C-beauty take over from the unfathomable rise of K-beauty? “In the domestic market, definitely. But in terms of global influence, I’d say it will take more time,”​ Li said.  

“The success of K-beauty was fuelled by innovative products, ingredients and techniques, among other things, that were new to the market, especially in the West. But I think C-beauty is more trend-driven instead of innovation-driven.”

Gabriella Beckwith, senior analyst for beauty and fashion at Euromonitor International, said interest in C-beauty was being fuelled by curiosity around China’s historical roots, ancient beauty rituals and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), making it a hotspot to watch this year alongside Japan​.

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