Cosmetics trends in Asia

In this article, XCellR8’s head of marketing, Susie Lee-Kilgariff reflects on a seminar she attended at In Cosmetics Global in London, sharing some fascinating marketing insights for clients who operate in the exciting Asian cosmetics market.

The opportunity is clear. By understanding the cultural trends in South Korea, Japan and China, western based companies could capitalise by modifying their ingredients and product claims to suit the Asian market whilst benefiting from the popularity of European or American brands in the East.

Cultural differences examined

In a presentation by Fei Xu from trend experts Information & Inspiration, the first thing that struck me is the ubiquity of social media for Asian consumers. Beauty bloggers wield enough influence to make the editor of Vogue weep. And cosmetics are viewed through the prism of ‘how will this make me look on social?’ rather than ‘how will this make me look in person?’ I’m not sure that western society is quite that consumed yet, although I can see that we’re on the same path.

Indeed, Asian beauty routines are highly sophisticated with the average woman using between 7 and 10 products on her skin versus our modest cleanse, tone, moisturise 3-step routine. It seems more culturally ‘expected’ to put a lot of work into your skin throughout the far east.

Three key trends for 2017

  • Selfie makeup
  • Natural and healthy glow
  • Customisation and DIY
  1. Selfie makeup

Product development here focuses on creating makeup specially designed to look good in a selfie. Examples include foundation formulated to create the same look as a beautifying app ie blurring to make pores invisible, contouring products focused on the apple zone to create a 3D effect on the face and mascara that goes up and out to look great from all angles.

You can see the trend in new product categories such as ‘selfie shot tone up base.’

  1. Natural and healthy glow

What constitutes a ‘glow’ varies by country. In Korea, a glow is classed as having a watery sheen to the skin, whilst in China a healthy glow means a rosy complexion thanks to good blood circulation. In Japan, a great glow looks like you’ve just got out of the bath – a radiant, pearly shine.

I was fascinated by some of the product claims being made in support of achieving a natural and healthy glow such as products including ‘deep sea water from Hawaii.’ There was also a lot of focus on how creams and bases are applied, many having bespoke applicators.

  1. Customisation and DIY

Here I heard two new marketing typologies – the modisumer or creasumer. Both mean a consumer who buys cosmetic products with the intention of modifying them or creating something new.

The trend began with beauty bloggers who show their fans how to hack products to create new effects such as custom colours or two tone ‘bitten lips.’ This was especially interesting from a testing perspective, because how can ingredient manufacturers guarantee the safety or efficacy of products which get blended with others? Watch this space for the rise of more hybrids such as tone up cream or tinted spot correctors.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the trends and what it could mean for new ingredient development for western companies aiming to enter the Asian market. You can get in touch with us here.