January 07 2021 Markets

Beauty linked to health and changes in interaction with e-commerce are cosmetics consumption trends

Strengthening of private brands and popularization among shoppers over 50 years old, in addition to the focus on health are themes that appear in a survey made by Kantar in Asia.

With national and international beauty companies looking for ways to export to Asia, changing consumer behavior in the region should impact consumption for 2021. The good news is that there is room for luxury brands - and that includes imported brands - and, having passed the convenience stage, the drive for discoveries in online shopping is expected to prevail in the coming years.

The beauty sector, one of the most promising in Asia, was booming when it was impacted by the pandemic. China alone lost 25 billion yuan in sales in the first half of 2020 due to Covid-19, while sales of skin and hair care products fell 49% in Korea and makeup purchases were reduced by 48% in Thailand. However, the segment is already showing signs of recovery, but with considerable changes in consumer behavior, according to the Asia Beauty study, done in Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia by Kantar, the global data agency , insights and consultancy, and targeting trends for 2025.

According to the survey, consumption will not be as it was in the pre-coronavirus era and it is necessary to embrace the “new normal” to reconstruct it. Skincare and hair care have recovered relatively quickly, but the slow recovery in makeup consumption across the region is what prevents the personal care sector from registering a more positive performance today.

One of the reasons for this is already reflected in the change in the shopper's position in relation to cosmetics. The study defines behavior as 'Flex': Fundamental, Local, E-commerce and Luxury. In other words, the focus changes to health-oriented beauty; local brands and personalization gain more and more strength; e-commerce continues to grow and offers greater diversification and luxury remains an important aspirational vector for sales.
The main trend is that the consumption of beauty products is increasingly moving away from the idea of use only to improve appearance and evolve to concern with providing well-being and quality of life. In general, consumers start looking more frequently for products that offer effective treatment, natural ingredients, oil control and acne. In China alone, 13 million consumers said they are changing their skincare routine to products that offer skin recovery and not just immediate results.

Sales of skin care products, for example, recorded the greatest growth during the lockdown and continue to gain penetration in all markets. Facial cleansing cream, for example, has advanced 8 penetration points in Korea. Serum, moisturizer and micellar water have also gained more space in necessaries in other Asian countries. Beside them, local producers also stand out, since the efficiency of the product and knowing the consumer well are at the top of the list of priorities when buying. In Asia, 70% of brands with increased performance since the beginning of the pandemic are regional.

In addition to these criteria, luxury remains one of the aspirational vectors of the beauty universe in the region. In China, the segment was the pre-pandemic leader and suffered the most during the lockdown, but in June it was back to the first position in the choices of shoppers with numbers close to the old level. The upper classes are largely responsible for this movement, while the medium-income groups have reduced purchases of luxury brands by 21%. Part of these consumers migrated to another important trend: the strengthening of their own brands with the search for lower prices and better cost-benefit.

Still in China, after confinement, purchases of compact powder and facial cleansing cream of private brands grew, respectively, 200% and 86%. In Korea, a lower price is a priority for buying makeup on 28% of the occasions, along with long-lasting products in 20% of the cases.

Another relevant point is that the approach of beauty to health is also driven by a variation in the age group of active consumers. The 30- to 39-year-old and over-50 groups are those with the greatest potential, especially the second, which increased online cosmetics purchases by 64% in China during the pandemic.

When it comes to the purchase channel, e-commerce evolves in various segments of mass consumer goods worldwide. In China, 83% of buyers use it. Among the categories, beauty is one of those with the fastest growth and investment in technical evolution. However, this increase is not as organic as it sounds and requires platforms to decipher the stages of buyer interaction to convert. According to the Kantar survey, at the beginning of the pandemic, most consumers bought online for the convenience of saving time and not having to face lines. But with the popularization of the channel and the breaking of emotional barriers that hindered interaction, the usual shopping missions gave way to impulse, emergency and discovery missions. After that, the next stage is that, being more comfortable with the channel, buyers increase the number of online stores visited and transfer the traditional offline window shopping to the virtual.    

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