Skincare is the bestseller category of China’s ecommerce

E-commerce sales for beauty products in China are on the rise. According to The NPD Group, e-commerce sales in China reached $710 million in August, up 61 percent year-over-year.

The skincare sector in China

Skincare was the best-performing category in the Chinese e-commerce world. Sales were up 71 percent year-over-year, and 59 percent of prestige beauty consumers bought skincare online in August, according to NPD.

Even before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the beauty sector in China was in great growth. This year the positive trend was confirmed. In fact, in 2020 China will reach 391 million RMB in turnover in the cosmetics, skincare, personal care, and fragrance markets. In addition, there is more: by 2023, the turnover of the beauty sector is expected to reach 480 million RMB. In this way, China will overtake the United States, which is now second in the world for annual sales in the sector.

Skincare sets and kits were popular, driving 34 percent of sales. While sets do not perform really well in other countries, in China, they are popular, NPD noted.

Face creams are the segment’s second-biggest subcategory, and it grew 70 percent year-over-year in August, NPD said.

Consumers have obviously changed their skin-care routine this year due to the pandemic, focusing on self-care as they spent more time at home.


E-commerce in China: Skincare segment

Retail e-commerce sales in China for 2018 and 2019 with forecasts until 2023

A great contribution to the growth of the beauty sector came from the increase in sales through e-commerce platforms.

Thanks to giants such as Tmall or, in fact, brands now also reach customers in less connected cities than those of the first and second tier. Not only. Digital tools also allow you to stimulate brand awareness, ensure a more pleasant shopping experience, and launch promotions.

According to Tmall’s estimates, in the month of March 2020 alone, YoY (year-on-year) growth in sales in the beauty sector was 50%. This positive trend is confirmed by the fact that on April 13, 2020, the platform owned by Alibaba announced its intention to include 1000 new beauty stores in its offer.

Cross-border e-commerce sales are also steadily increasing. This is because international brands continue to be particularly appreciated by Chinese users for their quality.

In first place among the cross-border platforms, we find Tmall Global, followed by JD Worldwide and Also thanks to its various advertising features, Tmall Global reaches 666 million users every month.

Do you want to start selling your skincare products in China?


To sell Skincare in China, building a strong e-reputation is key

To be able to sell on the Chinese e-commerce platforms your brand must be known by the consumers and considered trustworthy. E-reputation should be the core of your marketing strategy when doing e-commerce in China.

Chinese consumers don’t really trust new brands and before buying a new product they want to be sure that it’s a good one, so they go on forums and blogs and they do some research.

In order to build a good e-reputation you need to:

  • have a website on Baidu, Chinese most used search engine, to look legitimate;
  • work on Seo and Sem, to rank in a good position;
  • have an official account on WeChat, and to join as many groups and communities as possible to promote your company;
  • be present on Zhihu or Toutiao, two Chinese Q&A platforms, in order to generate awareness about your brand and to educate your consumers about your products.


Use augmented reality to create more engagement with your skincare brand

To keep up with Chinese high standards of technology, brands like Lancôme started using augmented reality technologies to offer a highly personalized service to their customers. To do this, it acquired ModiFace, a start-up founded by dermatologists that use photos or videos of users to simulate skincare treatments on them.

The App developed by ModiFace analyzes skin imperfections and then recommends specific treatments accompanied by an image of future results. In short, like having a specialist at your disposal without having to take a step out of the house.

It is possible to choose the variations of a product and apply them to your figure from the camera. The color palette is fully selectable; you can change the intensity of the color and apply different types of makeup (blush, eye shadow, etc.).

This interactive experience not only simplifies the choice but also encourages the purchase of more products and collects consumer preferences.


WeChat Mini-programs’ potential cannot be neglected by Skincare Brands in China

Mini-programs are WeChat internal mini-apps. They have 600 million active users. They offer extra services: e-commerce, coupons, tasks, games, and augmented realities. They are used in order to improve the relationship between brands and consumers and strengthen customer loyalty.

Mini-programs can replicate the activity of large e-commerce platforms on a small scale. In fact, brands can use them as a second sales channel. Furthermore, they are useful for content marketing to support the online offer of brands.

Mini-programs are used also in the beauty sector thanks to their numerous functionalities.

For example, the Armani Beauty mini-program gives WeChat users the possibility to choose the lipstick shade that best suits their ruddiness.


Live streaming in China in the skincare sector is a must

Also thanks to the closing of physical stores, the revenues of the beauty sector generated by live streaming continue to rise.

In fact, live streaming is particularly suitable for making reviews, tutorials, and instant sales of products, especially if they concern make-up. Often the peaks in sales are linked to the direct reports of particular KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) of national fame.

Another factor of interest is the discount on products previously agreed by influencers with brands. This mix of direct information, low prices, entertainment, and trust in KOLs leads consumers to decide to buy faster than usual.

Platforms like Douyin are really indicated for live streaming. Douyin is the Chinese version of TikTok, and it’s an application to create and share short videos (about 15 seconds). A challenge is a great way to build a community of like-minded people. They are used to promote a specific topic, brand, or content. Challenges on Douyin can be promoted with a unique hashtag or stickers.


Social-commerce and group buying in the skincare sector

A new trend that is emerging in China is that of social commerce, like Xiaohongshu and Pinduoduo. They are marketplaces and social media at the same time.

Xiaohongshu has more than 200 million users and it is growing a lot. It was born as a shopping guide. It mainly attracts consumers who appreciate quality and authenticity. It is mainly used by millennials of first and second-tier cities. 85 % of users are women. There is a collaboration between Taobao (Alibaba) and Xiao Hong Shu: posts on Little Red Book can appear in product page reviews on Taobao.

Pinduoduo is famous for its group buying function. It is one of the most important e-commerce platforms after Tmall and Jd. One of its strong points is the cheap price and discounts. In fact, generally, the products on the platform have very low prices. Furthermore, users can take advantage of the group buying function to further lower prices.

Each product sold on Pinduoduo has two prices. One is the official price, and the other is the discounted price for group purchases. In order to access the second, you must find at least one friend who wishes to join the purchase. For each person who is added to the purchase, the price is further reduced. Therefore, users share their purchase orders with their circle of contacts on social networks.

Pinduoduo offers also a live streaming function, which as we saw before is very important and profitable in China.

Start selling your Skincare line on China’s e-commerce platforms now

gma agency

GMA shares not only deep insights into the Chinese market but also is an expert in the Chinese digital market since 2012. We have worked successfully with many foreign companies in the way of entering the Chinese market. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.


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