From K-pop to TikTok: Is China’s color analysis boom a missed opportunity for brands?

    Netizens in China and globally are going crazy for color season analysis content, fueled by celebrity endorsements. But does the trend have legs?
    Personal color season analyses from across the globe. Photo: Xiaohongshu/TikTok

    In a viral TikTok video, a customer is swathed in interchanging sheets of various coloured fabrics, which glide across her clavicle. Standing behind her is Tatum Schwerin, who proclaims “blondes cannot be winters, at all” and that the “jewel-toned color palette” is “the most coveted but improperly analyzed palette.”

    Schwerin’s client is partaking in seasonal color analysis, where a color expert drapes their subject in different toned cloths to decipher which shade makes their skin tone, hair, or eye color pop.

    A self-titled “color analysis queen,” Schwerin has built her brand off of categorizing her customers’ features into seasons – spring, summer, winter, or fall.

    Schwerin is part of a new wave of content creators gaining internet fame for their color analyses. While personal color analysis reached a popularity peak in the 1980s, the trend has resurged this year on Western apps TikTok and Instagram, as well as on China’s domestic social media. On TikTok, Schwerin’s most-watched video has been viewed over 30 million times.

    View post on TikTok

    China bucks the trend#

    Last year, K-pop idol Jisoo of Blackpink fame, who is Dior and Cartier’s ambassador, was spotted undergoing a color analysis session in a studio in South Korea. It turned out she was a “cool summer” – this entails a simple and refreshing Morandi palette, like gray-blue, light gray, and nude tones for her wardrobe. Her recommended make-up is natural as possible.

    Since then, color season analysis has surged in Asia, fueled by South Korean celebrity endorsements from figures like Im Yoon-ah (Girls’ Generation), and Jennie and Jisoo (Blackpink).

    The trend has rapidly spread to neighboring countries like China, where locals are booking appointments weeks in advance and traveling to color analysis studios in Seoul’s Gangnam district, such as Color Place, Rendez-Vous Color, and Colorga Sanda.

    A Xiaohongshu user nicknamed Pu’er (@蒲儿姓浦) from Guizhou did the test last August and surprisingly found out she was of a ‘soft autumn’ skin tone, like Blackpink member Jennie. The analyst suggested that she wear warm shades.

    “The makeup palette she recommended to me are all my favorites. Now I know the reason why I like them,” says Pu’er in her Xiaohongshu post.

    Color analysis studios have opened in Shanghai and some domestic make-up studios have introduced the service to provide looks that best suit their customers’ skin tones.

    With young consumers in China growing ever more sophisticated in their fashion choices, color analysis studios can help them navigate the decision-making process.

    Blackpink's Jisoo receiving a color season analysis consultation. Photo: Youtube
    Blackpink's Jisoo receiving a color season analysis consultation. Photo: Youtube

    International fame#

    Interest in color consultants across the West has been on a steady growth trajectory since the 2010s. But Google Trends shows that searches for the term “color analysis” have sharply increased since January, the same month the trend took over global social media.

    Sydney-based Silvia (who preferred not to give her last name) is one of many color theorists turning their once-niche professions into lucrative businesses. After launching her color analysis service Colour Me Coach in 2023, a decision fueled by her own experience with a color expert in Italy, Silvia’s color wheel content went viral almost instantaneously.

    Now a pro, Silvia has seen a recent significant uptick in interest online around color analysis. “The internet buzz around color analysis is fantastic,” she tells Jing Daily. “It’s like a secret language everyone’s learning, and suddenly you can bond over being a ‘true spring’ or a ‘deep autumn.’ It’s definitely creating a fun community.”

    A color season analysis in process. Photo: Xiaohongshu
    A color season analysis in process. Photo: Xiaohongshu

    While consumers are lighting up the likes of Silvia and Schwerin’s inboxes with requests, some social media users are bypassing help from the experts, instead turning to their online audiences to decide what ‘season’ they are. On TikTok in particular, color analysis filters are all the rage.

    South Korean-American beauty influencer Ava Lee, known more commonly by her internet handle Glow With Ava, called for her 1.7 million followers to determine her season using one of the app’s color analysis filters.

    “You look like an autumn to me!” one user commented. Another disagreed, insisting that Lee was, in fact, a winter.

    Though the trend does hold the potential to be harnessed as a marketing tool – particularly among beauty retailers – brands have been slow to jump onboard.

    View post on TikTok

    Truth or trickery?#

    Color season analysis has surged in popularity thanks in part to the polarizing debate it has stoked online. Skeptics denounce the practice as a “scam,” while advocates swear by its benefits. Others simply enjoy its nostalgia-infused charm, and think the online content makes for good viewing.

    The question is whether the service comprises an evergreen business opportunity, after online hype runs its course. Silvia thinks there will always be a demand for uber-personalized appointments, noting that consumers are perpetually eager to discover what products are most flattering and complementary.

    “It’s more than just a hot trend,” she says, also noting the sustainable impact the service can have on consumer’s shopping habits. “It empowers people to make smarter shopping choices. This not only saves money, but also reduces fashion waste – a win for your style and the environment.”

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