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How can small businesses compete in the chinese beauty market ?

krave korean sustainaible cosmetic

China is a country in constant economic growth. With a very large and trendy middle class! The Chinese have more and more interest in being beautiful…and putting a price tag on it! According to an IMED article published in 2019, China is the second-largest cosmetics market in the world. With a considerable growth that is around 9.6% per year, as well as the rapid growth of male demand for this type of product. China represents a real opportunity. Some companies have understood that! 61% of this market is in the hands of big industries such as L’Oréal for example.

The large international groups are nevertheless largely held back by China’s increasingly rigid laws.  Yes, China’s trade policy is complex and it is something we need to be familiar with. For example, many small businesses are not able to make their way in this market. Why? Their lack of knowledge, and their inadequate approach.

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How small beauty brands should promote their products

Seasoned knowledge of the economic and legal context is therefore essential in order to penetrate this complex and fruitful market. Several marketing strategies need to be put in place.

Market entrants should focus on e-commerce in particular. The figures speak for themselves, 90% of the female clientele carry out research via the internet before going to the shop to buy their product. This imposes an additional burden on the e-reputation of companies but also a nice opening provided that it is well considered.

E-reputation in the Beauty Industry: Crucial Step

The e-reputation is about the brand image that the company reflects thanks to its presence on the networks. In other words, what does your target audience think about you?

 We know how important it is, but then how do we deal with it?

In 2017, 75% of Chinese people said they spent more on their beauty products in order to have access to higher quality. Or so they believe. There are tons of beauty products out there that are a lot cheaper than Laneige our Kiehls and are as good as them. Yet, these expensive products are a lot more popular. Why?

  • They are branded as luxury products and perfect to show off a certain wealth.
  • Great marketing work on branding and making people believe that expensive means better. (Well, to say the truth it also helps that Chinese peoples generally agree on the fact that cheap means not good)
Drivers for increasingskincare spending

The above survey confirms that the Chinese associate quality and price, which would be the first factor to take. The second factor would be quality.

Beauty, cosmetic and environmental consciousness

Our society is becoming more and more concerned about the environment and its issues. That is also true in China. With the rise of the middle class, the awareness of environmental change and the impact of consumption habits on our planet is rising. This results in a demand for greener products to end sustainable cosmetic companies.

A company that brand itself has having eco-friendly practices (glass bottles, non-polluting ingredients… etc) and great quality innovative products will be extremely popular with millennials and Gen Z consumers.

Krave Beauty skincare, for instance, gives 2% of its benefits for the protection of the coral reef and use non-polluting ingredients, yet innovative.

Indeed, more and more, it will be necessary to put forward the responsible quality of the product itself, to make it as good for the environment as it is for the body. Once again, this will be a guarantee of quality and thus an undeniable sales argument for China!

Chinese KOL in the Chinese Beauty Market

There’s nothing like a well-targeted KOL to boost your e-reputation.

Wait, you don’t know what KOL stands for? You’ve never used one? Or maybe you just don’t see the point?

Then you will have to get started very quickly because it is a key tool for a good e-reputation.

KOL stands for “Key Opinion Leader” or in other words “influencer”. You can promote your products in the best possible way, although, people have to trust your product and your brand!

Moreover, in the Chinese market, where we know how distrustful consumers are and their need to reassure themselves. This is where KOL comes into play. These influencers are people who are followed by a very large number of people, who are offered products to try them and face the promotion to their community. This principle is effective and offers consequent visibility. Once again, let’s be careful to target the right person, in order to deliver the right message. It is not that simple to find the right Kol, but here are a few tips: The Ultimate Guide to ‘Key Opinion Leader’ Marketing in China

Every platform have Kols, however, some platforms are better to promote beauty products than others. Xiaohongshu aka Red Aka little red book is the king of cosmetic and beauty trends Kols. Why? because the app niche target is young women from first tiers cities that love foreign high-end cosmetic beauty products. Hell, even Kim K uses RED, but don’t worry there are tons of micro-influencers a lot cheaper that would work very well for your brand too.

Use Wechat to promote your beauty brand in China

With Wechat the strategy is slightly different. Wechat is a closed social media. Meaning that you can not get wide visibility on Wechat. However, a company without a Wechat is fishy. Wechat has become an institution, and if it is not a good tool to grow your brand awareness, it is a great tool to neuter your followers.

Because of how close it is, Wechat feels like a more private network where the information shared by your contacts is considered reliable. It is particularly true for the Wechat group. They are really private, you can only enter if you have been invited or if someone shares the QR code with you. Therefore, most of the people in the group have been invited by a friend of theirs, immediately creating a high trust level. Create groups, manage groups, share useful content on a group chat, and build a community around your brand.

Use your official account to share your content and offers efficient customer services with Wechat CRM. Engage with users with mini-program and mini-game that are interactive and rewarding. In other words, keep your followers interested. Wechat is the perfect media for a “newsletter”. (Remember, emailing is not a thing in China)

china ecommerce agency wechat store
Dior WeChat mini-program that allows customers to buy directly from Wechat.

Baidu SEO and Forums

Another way to work on your e-reputation and visibility is SEO. In China, SEO is done on Baidu. Keep in mind that ranking with your website won’t be enough. Chinese consumers are smart buyers, not impulsive buyers, especially for products that can have a direct impact on their health like skincare and food supplement,s, etc…

Obviously, ranking your website on a beauty-related keyword is the number one step for people to find out about you. But then, after finding out about your brand, Chinese users will do complete researchers about you. They will typically look for reviews. These reviews can have different forms like KOLs but also reviews on eCommerce websites like a little red book, small, etc. One of the most important reviews will be the forums.

Why Forums?

Like for Wechat groups, the forums communities are very well trusted. If there are many publications about your brands, with positive vibes, that is a good sign, this means you are a reliable brand. Also, most Chinese forums belong to Baidu and will rank pretty much every time. Using forums is also a good way to create organic awareness and traffic for your brand. Let say someone is looking for lipstick and type “what is the best lipstick for dry lips” I can tell you that the first results after ads will be forums, would not it be great if those forum landing pages were linking to your website or store?

zhihu marketing

In Short, Small Beauty Brands can make it in China if they are smart

The cosmetics market in China is a market where there are many opportunities to be seized. Today I’ve mentioned just a few platforms but there is an overwhelming number of apps and platforms that can be used to market your beauty brand. The choice of platforms will depend on your budgets et goals but the one constant idea is to work on your brand awareness and e-reputation.

Feel free to contact us to get more information on the topic, we will be happy to spend some time letting you know about the Chinese beauty market as well as our solutions. Our Agency has solutions for every budget and start-ups are most welcome.

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  1. Hi
    We are a Chinese distributors of cosmetics, we mainly deal with Chinese local brands, and we are searching now to distribute good foreign brands, can you send me your product information please

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