In the wake of pandemic uncertainties and prolonged lockdowns, the natural consumer response — especially for young generations in China — is to turn to “health and wellness” products for self-care, mental health, and a long-term investment in their livelihood.
But what exactly does “health and wellness” entail? The umbrellaed category of the beauty industry encompasses everything from vitamin gummies and holistic nutritional supplements, to oil-infused skin cleansers and hair loss prevention products.
In recent years, technological strides have given China’s young consumers greater access to better quality wellness products, catapulting the industry into the number one trending position. With a current value of more than 1.5 trillion (10.1 trillion RMB) and an annual growth rate of 5 to 10 percent, this booming market is evidence of a shift in the consumer mindset: healthy lifestyles and self-care products aren’t indulgences, but in fact, necessary ingredients to survive the day-to-day grind.
Given the importance of this emerging, lucrative market, Jing Daily hosted a webinar sponsored by marketing consulting agency Tong entitled “China’s wellness beauty trends: Scoring with Gen Z” to unpack these trends. The expert panel of speakers included Allie Rooke, Founder of Clean Beauty Asia; Arielle Peng, Nutritionist Advisor and Trainer at Vida Glow; Jenny Zhang, Strategy Director of Tong Digital; and Zoe Ren, Business Development Manager at JD Worldwide.
Here are Jing Daily’s top three takeaways.
In the wider context of China’s increased anxiety levels, COVID uncertainties, burnout-inducing 996 culture, and the widespread phenomenon of revenge bedtime procrastination, “it’s clear that wellness today means something different [than] to previous generations,” explains Zhang. For China’s Gen Z and millenials, the focus has pivoted from chronic disease or hair care towards mental health and nutrition-based products that support wellbeing.
“Wellness is a lifestyle, it’s a choice, and it’s attainable,” Zhang stated. Rather than focusing on appearance-based results, brands looking to enter the wellness space should aim for multivitamins, stress alleviation, stress reduction, or ideally multi-use products — in other words, helping consumers look and feel good.
In a beauty market as large as the mainland's, brands need to find their niche audience by differentiating their products — and that includes packaging and aesthetics. Beauty snacks in the form of gummies or candies not only provide a delicious wellness experience but also offer convenience on-the-go, so they’re “less like medicine and easier to take,” Ren describes.
Though there’s an influx of candies, shakes, gummies, and drinks from Korea, Japan, and Europe on platforms like Tmall Global and JD Worldwide, Rooke believes that local brands can maintain their hold by gamifying packaging for young Chinese consumers. Providing a novel experience with creative flair is sure to be more memorable for beauty-obsessed customers.
While there is certainly interest in cruelty-free, sustainable beauty, consumers in the mainland are more focused on “efficacy and and are very ingredient-oriented,” Rooke clarifies. This trend is dictated in part due to the top-down market sway of governmental policies like the recent push for cruelty-free cosmetics, as opposed to grassroots campaigns for sustainability that might take off in the West. For products, this translates to high quality, natural ingredients — brands need to prove to discerning consumers what makes their beauty formulas active and clean.
In choosing better supplements, Chinese Gen Z often turn to knowledgeable online sources, including KOLs, influencers, or nutritional experts with a platform like Peng, a nutritionist and advisor at natural beauty brand Vida Glow. For Peng, credibility and product are number one; she researches ingredients, dosage, TGA guidelines, safety, efficacy, and clinical trials before giving her seal of approval. “Ninety-five percent of the brands that come to me I reject,” she explains. “I need to feel comfortable and confident to use my knowledge to promote the product and the brand.”
Tong is the largest independent China-focused agency in Europe. With "tong 通" meaning to inform, open and communicate, the cross-cultural agency closes the gap between brands and people in and out of China. As the Chinese market becomes increasingly competitive, Tong helps companies translate brand language to resonate with local audiences and create multi-layered activations that build credibility. Contact Tong at firstname.lastname@example.org