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    Cosmoprof lifts lid on 2024’s Asian beauty market trends

    Asia panel at Cosmoprof sheds light on emerging consumer behavior, shifting preferences, and the rise of new trends.
    Image: Cosmoprof
      Published   in Beauty

    Bologna hosted one of the world’s largest beauty trade shows, Cosmoprof, from March 21 to 24. The event brought together companies and professionals from across the cosmetics industry, encompassing the entire supply chain from raw materials to finished products.

    Notably, Chinese brands and manufacturers were a significant presence, particularly in the realm of packaging.

    Enrico Zannini, General Manager of BolognaFiere Cosmoprof, says it is important firms understand the challenges when exploring new business opportunities in China, and that businesses eyeing expansion in Asia offer products that align with “local consumers’ behavior and distribution channels.”

    Cosmoprof hosted a panel of experts titled “Evolving Beauty: Navigating the Asian Market Post-Pandemic,” moderated by Jing Daily deputy publisher Charlie Gu, which examined how Asia’s beauty market had changed post-Covid-19.

    Bologna hosted one of the world’s largest beauty trade shows, Cosmoprof, from March 21 to 24. Photo: Cosmoprof
    Bologna hosted one of the world’s largest beauty trade shows, Cosmoprof, from March 21 to 24. Photo: Cosmoprof

    Localization key#

    “In the past, brands simply came to China claiming they were ‘Made in France’ or Switzerland, and people would buy their products,” says Chloe Arjona, beauty director at the consulting firm Nellyrodi. “But in recent years, Asian countries and shoppers have rediscovered and appreciated again their rich cultural background and ancient beauty practices.”

    This swelling national pride has encouraged Chinese labels to engage in premiumization and offer more interesting propositions by drawing on their home advantage. Compared to their international peers, they are more flexible and responsive to local consumer trends.

    “International brands are finding it harder to grow market share in this space, unless they adapt to local preferences,” says Gautam Seth, vice president at NielsenIQ Bases, who points to the example of beauty businesses in China fueling the rise of social commerce channels, such as Douyin.

    Take Mistine, for instance. The Thai sun-care brand entered the Chinese market in 2016 with one product. “Now, we have more than 12 sun-care offerings in China,” says Chris Kam, overseas business development director at the brand’s parent, Better Way Asia.

    Chinese actress Zhao Lusi featured in Thai sunscreen brand Mistine's campaign. Photo: Mistine/Weibo
    Chinese actress Zhao Lusi featured in Thai sunscreen brand Mistine's campaign. Photo: Mistine/Weibo

    The sun-care company conducted several focus groups to better understand Chinese consumers’ needs and wants.

    “Before, consumers wanted a sunscreen that would protect them from UV light and prevent them from darkening. Today, consumers look for reduced redness, anti-aging, and blue-light protection from home devices,” says Kam.

    Another key focus group finding is that shoppers in China reject the addition of fragrance to their sun-care products, as they believe scent would irritate their skin. They prefer ingredients to be as “clean” and “natural” as possible. Hence, Mistine eliminated fragrances from its products sold in China.

    ‘Skintellectuals’#

    Thanks to the proliferation of information online, beauty consumers have become experts in skincare and products’ ingredients.

    This cohort, known as “skintellectuals,” is more prevalent in Asia than elsewhere, says Arjona. “These consumers really want to learn and know everything,” she adds. “Brands need to level up their game in terms of ingredients and share the scientific background behind a specific product.”

    Bloggers and social media platforms played a huge role in the rise of skintellectuals, changing the beauty narrative.

    “The lifestyle app Xiaohongshu has made information so accessible to everyday consumers,” says Seth, who describes the platform as a social search engine. “Users simply input their needs … and check what is trending.”

    Given consumers’ growing awareness and knowledge, Arjona believes that brands need to train beauty sales assistants and advisors to become experts, so they can effectively respond to consumers’ sophisticated questions and enhance the shopping experience.

    Knowledgeable sales advisors can provide accurate recommendations and insights, adding value for consumers.

    Cosmoprof Bologna is one of the largest beauty fairs in the world. Photo: Cosmoprof
    Cosmoprof Bologna is one of the largest beauty fairs in the world. Photo: Cosmoprof

    Technology tilt#

    The pandemic forced department stores like South Korea’s Lotte to shift their focus online.

    Lotte Department Store’s cosmetics director Kim Da Jeong details how the business added AI technology to its mobile app, so shoppers could access AI shopping advisors and receive skin diagnosis and product recommendations, as well as receive their purchases within one day, or on the same day.

    Meanwhile, shoppers turned to home beauty devices as they couldn’t access in-person beauty services. “I see a gig opportunity for home beauty in Asia,” says Kim.

    In recent years, home beauty devices have been trending on social platforms like Xiaohongshu and Douyin, as well as Tmall and JD.com. More and more people are learning how to use these gadgets at home and directly purchasing them online.

    “Consumers are more and more educated today,” Arjina says. “Before, green and natural products were seen as good, and synthetic products and technology were believed to be bad. But we are ushering in a new era, when consumers look for science-backed and clinically tested products and believe in biotechnology and green chemistry.”

    However, forum attendees heard how brands should avoid greenwashing and or “science-washing.” Guerlain was recently called out in China for claiming its anti-aging cream was created based on quantum mathematics.

    Photo: Cosmoprof Bologna
    Photo: Cosmoprof Bologna

    Asian-skin focused formula#

    In recent years, skincare targeting sensitive skin has become big in Asia. Many brands focusing on this area have quickly risen in popularity.

    “Many people believe that they have sensitive skin; but they actually don’t. Their skin simply got irritated when wearing masks during the pandemic,” says Jina Lee, CEO and founder of South Korean natural skincare brand Urang.

    Asian beauty consumers are pursuing personalized skincare products tailored to their skin.

    Additionally, wellbeing is increasingly being integrated into the beauty industry. This comprises a holistic vision and approach to beauty that involves balanced nutrition, high-quality sleep, and regular exercise.

    To penetrate Asian markets, businesses, no matter what size, must hone an in-depth understanding of local consumption behavior and cultural backgrounds, and ensure their branding, ingredients, and marketing strategies align with it.


    • Cosmoprof, one of the world's largest beauty trade shows, was held from March 21 to 24 in Bologna, gathering companies and professionals encompassing the entire cosmetics supply chain from raw materials to finished products.
    • The swelling national pride has encouraged Chinese labels to engage in premiumization and offer more interesting propositions by drawing on their home advantage.
    • Given consumers’ growing awareness and knowledge, brands need to train knowledgeable sales advisors who can provide accurate recommendations and insights, adding value for consumers.
    • Asian beauty consumers are pursuing personalized skincare products tailored to their skin, in particular, skincare targeting sensitive skin has become big in Asia, and brands should make sure not to miss this opportunity.
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