Decoding 'China Chic' cosmetic brands

'China Chic’ is taking the cosmetic industry by storm. Fiona Wang, our Social Intelligence Analytics (SIA) expert explains how.

‘China Chic’ – which refers to the unique expression of Chinese culture in products and brands – has become a trendy topic. Though the concept was originally conveyed by sportswear brands, it has now expanded across various industries including beauty, food, fashion, gaming, and more. But perhaps the industry most influenced by ‘China Chic’ is cosmetics. Online conversations about the phenomenon across social media sites, forums, and blogs have risen significantly since 2021, and newly created ‘China Chic’ brands are now among the most-mentioned beauty brands in China.

In a new article, Ipsos’ Fiona Wang discusses the three keys to success of ‘China Chic’ cosmetic brands through the lens of social listening. These brands have managed to reach new audiences and set themselves apart by:

  1. Delivering oriental elements in their product design and gaining social media attention with crossovers and limited version products
    Different from other international brands, ‘China Chic’ cosmetic brands adopt Chinese cultural elements to emphasize uniqueness and stand out among category competitors. Traditionally, Chinese features like natural landforms and local ingredients are applied to brand research and development, and play a key role in social communications. But for these makeup products, brands tend to highlight cultural elements right in their package design. Plus, online consumers have embraced special “limited editions” of cosmetic products – which has resulted in high volumes of organic social sharing.
  2. Boosting their brand awareness through influencer marketing campaigns
    The quick rise of these brands’ awareness and interest is partially attributed to their successful influencer marketing approaches. To move from unknown brand to national, household name, ‘China Chic’ cosmetic brands have leveraged celebrities and relied on social authors with strong social media presences for brand promotion and to engage broader audiences. Partnering with local idols has proven to be an efficient way to not only approach target audiences, but convert them into paying customers.
  3. Fulfilling the needs of young consumer groups with unique product features and cost-effectiveness
    When looking at the primary audience of these ‘China Chic’ brands, more than 90% of online discussions come from younger generations, particularly Gen Z. For them, the competitive product efficacy, good looking design, and lower costs are key purchase motivations. In general, this younger generation is prouder of Chinese culture and Chinese self-developed products, so they are more inclined to promote and share their experience with cosmetics. Makeup tutorials on social media, for example, aroused huge social impact and generated organic product recommendations to the larger online population.

But ‘China Chic’ isn’t limited to just China. Now two years after the official start of “C-Beauty products going overseas” in 2020, more than 30 brands have entered the global market. As China’s cosmetics exports and development of cross-border Ecommerce platforms continue to grow, we expect to see China Chic reach even further into new geographies in the coming year.
For more on ‘China Chic’ cosmetics – and examples of top brands and influencers – read the full blog here. For brands looking to expand overseas or track trends in the beauty industry, Synthesio’s AI-enabled consumer intelligence platform plus expertise from the Ipsos’ Social Intelligence Analytics solutions provide insights that are complete, accurate, and predictive. To learn more, request a demo with our team today.

Consumer & Shopper