In 2019, Beauty Evolution, an ingredient review and skin diagnosis Chinese app, successfully secured around US$1.5 million worth of funds in a Series A round. In fact, the case of “Beauty Evolution” marks a new phase that Chinese consumers have developed a more thorough decision-making process and they are really doing homework when it comes to purchasing skincare products.
Ingredient safety is the new keyword
Today, terms like ceramide, nicotinamide, anti-glycation have become the basic vocabulary for beauty consumers and are now the main advertising language for all beauty brands. Both new Chinese domestic independent brands and international brands like Estée Lauder and L’Oréal, which have been major players in the Chinese beauty market for years, are emphasizing products’ ingredients and dedicated effects in marketing.
In the study “Fresh Faces: The Global Beauty & Skincare Industry”, Teads, a global marketing management platform, interviewed nearly 4,500 people including Gen Z, high-income and eco-conscious female consumers and summarized six main trends that consumers are most concerned about, among which, the quality of content ranks first.
It is also the case with Chinese beauty consumers as they pay more attention to ingredients that have the effects of brightening, soothing and anti-wrinkle, and the using experience. Such attention is not a result. It is a stage in the process of consumers being educated by brands and beauty KOLs. Meanwhile, it is also the next focus of the high-end beauty market.
Demonstration of “Scientific Skincare”
The beauty industry has entered an era where ingredients and effects matter. According to the “Transparency Perception Assessment Survey” by Fashion Institute of Technology, more than 40% of beauty consumers believe that they have not obtained enough safety information of ingredients from the brands they purchase; 72% of consumers expect brands to explain to them what the ingredients actually do.
When the brand is absent in providing information, skincare becomes a homework that needs to be done spontaneously by the consumers. Young and well-educated consumers will not follow the brand blindly. Instead, they will search for the effects of product ingredients, learn brand stories and scientific research capabilities and familiarize themselves with professionals’ analysis and interpretation of the products’ formula.
It is a new breakthrough for skincare brands – the brand’s scientific research capabilities and professional background can bring consumers’ favor under rational analysis. Take the high-end professional scientific skincare brand SkinCeuticals as an example, with the endorsement of the brand founder, Professor Sheldon Pinnell, as the chief skin scientist of Duke University and the “father of antioxidants”, the brand gained the trust from consumers. In the once weak beauty market during the pandemic, SkinCeuticals still achieved strong growth in China.
According to the “Health, Wellness, + Beauty Trends” report by Stella Rising, a digital media marketing agency in the US, 68% of respondents indicated that they pay more attention to product ingredients due to COVID-19. This is good news for brands that differentiate themselves with the professionalism of scientific skincare. However, simply increasing capital investment in product development is not enough to continue a sustainable development of the brand.
In terms of market perception, consumers’ shopping decisions still need to be driven by subjective feelings other than the objective elements of the product. Brands need to learn to shift their way of thinking and get through consumers’ purchase behavior. In the high-end beauty market with fierce competition, either brands of large beauty groups or independent beauty brands, besides continuous efforts in scientific research, should establish a more consumer-oriented way of thinking.