Beauty trends in China

30 September 2020

Beauty products have always enjoyed a high demand among Chinese consumers. These two articles look at the decline of Korean cosmetics and the increasing popularity of tattoos in China.

Why K-beauty is losing its lustre in China

In the 1990s and 2000s Korean popular culture, celebrities and beauty products were extremely popular with Chinese consumers. However, the demand for Korean cosmetics is no longer growing at a sustainable rate. While China is still the largest buyer of K-beauty products, Chinese customers are now increasingly looking for alternative options. Korean cosmetics are known for their “fast beauty” production, meaning that their research and development cycles only take four months rather than the year needed by most global beauty product cycles.

This fast beauty process enables rapid access to new products, however, it also means that most products are difficult to differentiate. While K-beauty products are viewed as affordable, natural and healthy they lack the originality that Chinese consumers are increasingly looking for. This lack of differentiation also makes it easy for counterfeits to enter the Chinese market, reducing consumer confidence in K-beauty brands.

Another reason why K-beauty companies are on the decline in China is that they tend to market specific products rather than focusing on their brand, meaning that consumers have no knowledge of the brands or loyalty to them.

Finally, when shopping for beauty products, Chinese consumers prefer e-commerce channels. However, K-beauty products are mostly sold offline, meaning that they fail to reach many potential customers. There is also a growing competition with innovative Chinese brands who are re-imaging themselves, successfully targeting the new generation of consumers and offering their products through live-stream sales channels. The few major Korean beauty brands that are still successful in China are those that have extended their product offerings into other categories such as hygiene, hair and body products. Those businesses that engage in the acquisition of emerging brands, brand renewal and restructuring are predicted to do best in this market.

Read the full article on Vogue Business website

China makes its mark on the world of tattoos

Tattoos are becoming a common sight in China. Many people across China are now having their arms, backs and legs tattooed with Chinese style flora and fauna or traditional calligraphy art. Due to this growing demand, tattooing techniques and products are also undergoing rapid innovation and transforming the body art industry. While the Communist Party perceives tattoos as part of an undesirable hip-hop or criminal culture, there is increasing flexibility and acceptance of body art in China.

While tattooing has a long history in China, it has long been thought to represent a criminal or barbarian lifestyle. Confucianism also views tattoos negatively as they damage the body, which is seen as an extension of one’s parents.

Tattoo art as it is now started becoming popular in China in the 1980s with a uniquely Chinese style of tattoo art emerging in the 1990s. This style of art is all about portraying historical legends. Another two Chinese styles are classic calligraphy (Chinese characters tattooed as broad strokes) and ink-wash painting (traditional Chinese landscapes). Chinese tattoo art also improved with the increasing availability of safe professional equipment as China became a manufacturing powerhouse.

However, this rise in manufacturing also increased the availability of cheap and potentially unsafe tattoo machines. Now some tattoo artists are protecting their art and ensuring the quality of work by establishing small tattoo schools with apprentices practicing on pieces of skin-like silicon rubber.

Despite some traditionally negative views on tattoo art and increasing use of cheap equipment by untrained artists, the demand for tattoo studios and artists is steadily increasing across China. This offers new opportunities in this creative industry.

Read the full article on The Economist website

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