South Korean labels were the big winners in FT Confidential Research’s latest survey of China’s most popular cosmetics brands, as they catch up on dominant US and European companies. Their popularity is strongest among young consumers, supported by the fashion for Korean pop music and television. According to the survey, western brands still dominate. L’Oreal was out in front, selected by 19.2% of respondents as one of the two most frequently purchased brands. But the pressure is on: the 76.1% of respondents who chose European and American brands was down 5.2 percentage points from our survey in the fourth quarter of last year. SEE ALSO: Hong Kong billionaire to push Korean cosmetics in China Although only 16.2 % of respondents said they most regularly buy Korean brands, this is up sharply from 10.1 % in our previous survey. The popularity of these brands is reflected in data from the General Administration of Customs showing a 229% jump in the import value of Korean cosmetics last year. Crucially, the Korean brands’ rise is being driven by younger consumers. Amorepacific, the leading Korean brand, was chosen by 26.4% of respondents aged 18 to 24. In contrast, Korean brands were selected by just 6.5% of over 35s, whose overwhelming preference – among 81.7% of respondents – was for established European and US brands. Unsurprisingly, e-commerce was the most popular purchase channel for our youngest group of buyers (61.4%), while the over-35s preferred the shopping mall or supermarket (47.2%). We expect online channels to outperform as the incomes of younger consumers continue to rise.
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