Thirty years ago, fashion was a moot point in China. Young women throughout the country more or less dressed the same and wore no make-up.
Today, Chinese women are among the most emboldened fashionistas in the world. Clothes and hair are as important in China as they are anywhere else in the world, if not more, and so are cosmetics, which offer a new generation of Chinese women endless possibilities to play around with their look.
Large cosmetic brands from Europe, the United States and Japan have been established in China for a while now, and most derive a major portion of their revenue from sales in China. Estee Lauder, for example, even launched a special line only for Chinese consumers, Osiao, which generated $500 million for the company in the 2012 fiscal year.
But Chinese consumers have also reached a stage where they’re increasingly looking beyond the labels for skincare and make-up lines that can deliver something new, something unique. And as much as large brands like Estee Lauder, Chanel, Christian Dior and the like are still coveted in China, name recognition is becoming far less important to a new generation of Chinese consumers.
“Even five years ago, people would buy cosmetics only for the name, but now Chinese consumers know themselves better and they know how to look for products that suit them, regardless of brand,” said Amanda Liu, vice president and creative director at Labbrand China, a leading brand consultancy and market research firm in Shanghai.
Today, natural brands like France’s L’Occitane en Provence, Origins (an Estee Lauder company) and Australia’s Jurilique are extremely popular with young women ages 18 to 30, who are the greatest consumers of cosmetics in China and who want specific products that can deliver specific results. These young women are smart, savvy, open to trying new things out and they’re also keen, said Liu, to experiment with creams, lotions and make-up made by companies they’ve never heard of before.