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China now the largest internet beauty market in the world

By Simon Pitman , 23-Apr-2012

With record numbers of China consumers taking to the internet to make purchases, online beauty purchases have grown by a record 200 percent since 2006 to become the largest market in the world, according to Kline Group.

The market was valued at $8bn in 2011, and as yet more consumers are added to the swelling number of online purchases in the country, the market is set for further rapid growth in the coming years.

Karen Doskow, Kline industry manager, says the latest figures mean that the market for online beauty in China alone puts it almost on a par with the entire beauty market in France, the country that is already the largest market for beauty in Western Europe.

China online beauty sales overtake the US

Further putting the figure into perspective, the Chinese internet beauty sales are almost nine times the size of internet beauty sales in the United States, a market where the take-up on internet purchases has been relatively high.

“The rapid growth of Internet usage over the past five years has given way to a tremendous surge in sales and availability of local and foreign cosmetic and toiletry brands,” explains Li Wang, Vice President of Kline Asia.

“The number of online users and buyers in China has skyrocketed. Internet user numbers in China approached 457 million in 2011, up from 137 million in 2006. Online buyers now total some 205 million in 2011.”

Emails add to online beauty sales growth

The Kline research, which is based on its latest report, Beauty Retailing Through Direct Sales in Emerging Markets, also points to the fact that online shops, known as ‘emails’, are also contributing to the phenomenal growth.

In China this channel is led by names such as Tiantian.com and Alibaba’s Tmall, which enable customers to buy from a large range of both domestic and foreign cosmetic and personal care brands from a one-stop shop.

Doskow says that the growth of this particular portal is expected to remain ‘quite robust’, driven by the continued socio-economic status of the China population, combined with a voracious appetite for the convenience and choice that internet shopping provides.

The research also points to one new trend that is building in momentum from this channel across most emerging markets: person-to-person sales. This involves consultants working on behalf of retailers or brands, giving consumers the more personal touch they often feel they miss with conventional online purchases.

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