Dermo Cosmetics in China: Why The Cosmeceuticals Market is Growing so Fast?

In the intricate world of beauty and skincare, the line between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals is becoming increasingly blurred. Enter the realm of ‘cosmeceuticals,’ a fusion of cosmetic and pharmaceutical products that promise both beauty enhancement and therapeutic value.

Nowhere is this trend more evident than in China, a nation that has seen an unprecedented surge in the cosmeceuticals market in recent years, which is expected to reach USD 27 billion by 2025. But what is driving this rapid ascent?

This article delves into the burgeoning Chinese derma cosmetics market, exploring the underlying socio-cultural, economic, and technological factors propelling its growth. Join us as we unravel the myriad reasons behind China’s swift embrace of this innovative beauty frontier.

Cosmeceuticals: A Choice That Lies In the Space Between Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals

With the rapid growth trend of cosmeceuticals these years, more and more beauty retailers are expanding their offerings to include cosmeceutical products in their stores. Busier and more stressful lifestyles, sensitive skin, as well as worsening environmental conditions, can be the essential reasons why the cosmeceuticals market can soar and gain more and more profits in the Chinese market.

The term “Cosmeceuticals” comes from the words ‘cosmetics’ and ‘pharmaceuticals’, and the adoption of this kind of product is influenced by Western shopping behaviors, where consumers when experiencing bad skin conditions want to be visited by dermatologists before searching for and buying items. As time went by, Cosmeceuticals (or derma cosmetics) have become indispensable for Western people, now even for Chinese consumers.

In fact, the best-selling segment of cosmeceuticals is skincare (nearly 50%), followed by haircare. It’s no surprise, as the Chinese cosmetics industry is dominated by skincare products, as an answer for sensitive skin that the majority of Chinese people have.

China's skincare market

Chinese Derma Cosmetics Market Overview

Cosmeceuticals are a new trend in China that is changing the cosmetic industry. The latest research from Mintel reveals that 69% of Chinese consumers agree that using cosmeceuticals daily can prevent skin sensitivity. In addition, over two in five (44%) say that they only look for cosmeceuticals when they are suffering from certain skin conditions.

The global derma cosmetics market size was valued at $62 billion in 2022 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 7.19% between 2022 and 2028, reaching $94.83 billion in 2028. Although China’s dermo-cosmetics market is still new, it is expected to be one of the fastest growing in upcoming years and the main contributor in the APAC region. The number of derma-cosmetics sold in China is growing year-by-year.

Cosmeceutical is a good solution to improve skin conditions

All these following factors have dramatically impacted the sale of cosmeceuticals in China:

  • Busier Life (Life-Work Balance has not been getting “healthier” with the 996 trends)
  • Worsening Environnement (we will hopefully see a positive impact in the near future)
  • Strong Social Pressure on physical appearance
  • Wealth growth

Not by chance, authoritative research shows that Chinese consumers believe that the daily use of these products can prevent skin sensitivity, and 7 in 10 (69%) state that the daily use of cosmeceuticals can prevent skin problems. This is why the sensitive skincare category will become more saturated with derma cosmetics in upcoming years.

On the other hand, fewer consumers think they need cosmeceuticals only when experiencing certain skin conditions. That’s good news for the Chinese cosmeceuticals market since it shows the positive potential of such products to be included in consumers’ daily skincare routines.

With more knowledge about and attention paid to ingredients and product safety, it is important for cosmeceutical sellers to highlight the efficacy of key ingredients and how every one who incorporates skincare products with derma effect can benefit.

Chinese males consume cosmeceutical almost as much as women

Whether about cosmeceuticals or cosmetics, in the past, women were the core consumers in this industry. However, these days, it seems that men are also eager for ingredient information (especially when it comes to imported cosmetics), demonstrating a little gap in ingredient awareness between genders.

The gender gap in the users of cosmeceuticals is becoming smaller. According to Mintel’s research, 56% of men have purchased facial masks that include collagen as an ingredient in the first six months of 2020; this compares to 58% of women who did the same. Other ingredients with significant penetration rates among men include essential oils (40% male vs. 33% female), vitamins (34% male vs. 32% female), and amino acids (32% male vs. 35% female) for acne-prone skin.

It appears when males receive more education about cosmeceutical ingredients, their usage increases. It is important to help build awareness with male buyers to enhance the revenue the most. For instance, many businesses offer guidance in-store, especially for males with no knowledge of cosmeceuticals.

Cosmeceutical in China: Ingredient safety and quality are essential

As for anything related to human health, Chinese people always put priority on safety and quality. It seems that there is too much appalling news about drug safety or food safety in China, so the citizens are constantly on alert. The government also pulls its weight to protect its citizens against possible false health claims.

A product’s effectiveness and safety are both equally important to Chinese consumers. When setting product claims against cosmeceuticals, it is essential that manufacturers are aware that consumers highly value scientific data and endorsement from professional institutes to substantiate a product’s quality and effectiveness.

With regard to cosmeceuticals, it is important that brands pay particular attention to the ingredients used in cosmeceuticals. Mintel revealed that up to three in four (74%) urban Chinese consumers agree that it is essential for cosmeceuticals to contain effective ingredients.

In order to validate a product’s quality, Mintel’s research reveals that cosmeceutical producers can do that via data and institutional endorsement. Indeed, over half of urban Chinese consumers say to believe that a product has high quality if there is precise data to support it (55%) or if it is authorized by a professional institute (52%).

These researches indicate that it is important for cosmeceutical brands to take a transparent approach to their labels and ingredients list, letting consumers know how the formulas work. Chinese people usually attach great importance to transparency, especially for the transparency of quality.

healthcare China marketing agency

How to Market a Cosmeceutical Brand in China?

There are many ways to market a cosmetics brand in China, but the most important tactic is to go digital. Chinese consumers search for information online and gather recommendations on social media platforms or check forums on specific topics. You need to focus on building strong branding and e-reputation so that they trust your brand and decide to risks in testing it.

But first, you need to make sure you comply with Chinese regulations.

Regulations and Certifications

Navigating the regulatory maze of the Chinese cosmeceutical market is pivotal for brands aiming to thrive. Let’s explore the essential areas of focus.

China’s CFDA (China Food and Drug Administration) Guidelines

Now known as the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) since 2018, it’s imperative for brands to align with its stipulations. Key aspects to consider:

  • Product Classification: Determine whether your product needs registration (for ‘special use’) or a simpler notification to the NMPA (for ‘non-special use’).
  • Ingredient Checks: Ensure ingredients align with China’s approved list, as some globally accepted components may be restricted.
  • Clinical Testing: For certain claims, especially those bordering on therapeutic benefits, clinical tests might be mandated by the NMPA.

Cruelty-Free Certification: An Ethical Imperative

With China’s evolving stance on animal testing, brands with ‘Cruelty-Free’ badges are increasingly favored, reflecting an ethical commitment that resonates deeply with local consumers.

Labeling and Ingredient Transparency

Chinese consumers demand clarity. Effective strategies include:

  • Ingredient Breakdown: Clearly list ingredients, emphasizing active components.
  • Bilingual Labels: Products should be labeled in both English and Mandarin to ensure consumer comprehension.
cosmetics brand promotion in china

Digital presence: focus on building your brand visibility

The expansive digital landscape in China offers a treasure trove of opportunities for cosmeceutical brands. Harnessing these avenues is not just beneficial; it’s essential for any brand aiming for a substantial footprint in the market.

Chinese social media platforms

Brands must make a presence on popular platforms like WeChat, Weibo, Douyin (TikTok), and Xiaohongshu (Red) to optimize exposure.

  • WeChat: Often dubbed as China’s “app for everything”, WeChat is more than just a messaging app. Its integration of payment systems, social networking, and mini-programs makes it a prime channel for brands to both market their products and facilitate sales. Establishing an official WeChat account can provide brands with a direct line to consumers, offering exclusive promotions, content, and customer service.
  • Weibo: As China’s answer to Twitter, Weibo offers a platform for brands to engage in larger conversations. With its trending topics and hashtag features, brands can organically weave their promotions and campaigns into popular narratives, reaching a broader audience and capitalizing on current trends.
  • Xiaohongshu (Red): A blend of social media and e-commerce, RED is a hub for beauty and wellness enthusiasts. Users often share product reviews and beauty routines, making it an ideal platform for cosmeceutical brands to showcase testimonials, leverage user-generated content, and engage with a community passionate about skincare and beauty.
  • Douyin (TikTok): Short video content reigns supreme on Douyin. The platform’s engaging video format is perfect for demonstrating product use, sharing quick beauty tips, or collaborating with influencers for short, impactful campaigns.
One of the most popular Korean skincare brands: Laneige on WeChat

E-Commerce Platforms

Brands aiming to make their mark in China cannot ignore the behemoths of the e-commerce world. Platforms like Tmall,, and Taobao offer vast marketplaces where consumers are already actively searching for their next beauty purchase. Collaborating with these giants can provide brands with significant visibility and credibility.

Moreover, the importance of consumer feedback on these platforms cannot be overstated. Reviews guide purchasing decisions, and brands would do well to monitor feedback, engage with consumers, and adapt their offerings based on this invaluable input.

tmall cosmetic popular items 2020 China

Chinese website and Baidu SEO

A localized Chinese website serves as the digital face of a brand in the country. Investing in a well-designed, mobile-optimized website that caters to local sensibilities can enhance brand perception and provide a hub for all brand-related information.

In tandem with this is the need for optimizing for Baidu, China’s leading search engine. Unlike Google SEO strategies, Baidu has its own set of algorithms and preferences. Ensuring that your website is Baidu-friendly, with regular content updates, keyword optimization, and adherence to Baidu’s best practices, can significantly enhance a brand’s online visibility.

Localization of Branding and Messaging

In China’s dynamic market, brands need to intertwine their global identity with local culture to truly resonate. This blend of global and local nuances is central to effective localization.

Chinese-Influenced Packaging and Branding

Packaging in China often carries deep cultural symbols and aesthetics. By infusing designs with traditional motifs or calligraphy, brands can evoke familiarity and charm. Given the significance of gifting in Chinese traditions, packaging that reflects both luxury and cultural relevance can enhance a product’s appeal.

Collaborate with Chinese influencers

Local celebrities and influencers wield immense influence in China. Their endorsements offer brands immediate recognition and trust. Partnering with these local figures not only grants a wider reach but also serves as a seal of approval in the eyes of many consumers.

Merge Global Traits with Traditional Values

While modern Chinese consumers appreciate global trends, their rootedness in traditional values remains strong. Brands can emphasize their unique attributes, but it’s crucial to align these with traditional Chinese principles. For example, while highlighting a product’s innovative features, referencing concepts like holistic health or balance can create a deeper connection.

Offline presence

In the Chinese cosmeceutical landscape, offline engagement remains pivotal. Leveraging pop-up stores, experience centers, and kiosks in areas with high foot traffic can boost brand visibility. Partnerships with local spas, dermatology clinics, and pharmacies further extend product reach.

Simultaneously, hosting beauty and wellness workshops not only educates but also fosters deeper connections with potential consumers. Together, these strategies create a holistic and immersive brand experience for the Chinese audience.

Want to Start Selling Your Cosmeceutical Brand in China?

In the intricate web of the Chinese cosmeceutical market, navigating the digital landscape, understanding consumer behavior, and implementing effective offline strategies can be challenging. This is where expertise comes into play, and few offer the depth of insight and breadth of services as the Gentlemen Marketing Agency.

Why Choose Gentlemen Marketing Agency?

  1. Deep Market Understanding: With years of experience, we possess an innate understanding of the Chinese market’s dynamics, ensuring your brand taps into the most relevant trends and consumer behaviors.
  2. Tailored Strategies: Recognizing that every brand is unique, Gentlemen Marketing Agency crafts strategies that resonate with your brand’s identity, ensuring that your messaging stands out in the crowded marketplace.
  3. Integrated Services: From digital campaigns on platforms like WeChat and Weibo to offline engagements via pop-up stores and partnerships, we offer a 360-degree solution to ensure every touchpoint with your consumer is impactful.
  4. Local Expertise: Our team, a mix of global visionaries and local experts, ensures that your brand messaging retains its global essence while being meticulously tailored for the Chinese audience.
  5. Proven Track Record: The agency’s impressive portfolio of successful campaigns for diverse brands stands testament to our effectiveness and prowess.

Aligning with the right partner can make all the difference. With Gentlemen Marketing Agency by your side, your brand is not just poised for visibility but for market leadership. Make the smart choice, and let us be the catalyst for your brand’s success in China. Contact us today!

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