8 Oct 2018
Mainland Wig-Wearers Keen to Comb China International Hair Fair
- Photo: How would madam like toupee? – Top tresses on show at the CIHF 2018.
- Photo: Fringe benefits: Rebecca’s wigs’ plus points.
- Photo: Reflected glory: Miu’s AI-enabled mirror.
- Photo: Parting shot: A look within a wig.
- Photo: Hair apparent: The view from the Miu mirror.
- Photo: Hair conditioners: Toupee topiarists in action.
With toupees the must-have hair accessories for balding Beijingers and follically-challenged Foshans alike, this year's China International Hair Fair saw consumers willingly parting with their money in order to whisk away a wig or two.
As ever, this year's China International Hair Fair (CIHF) saw a vast range of new products on offer. Thankfully, given the sheer volume of items, the event was divided into easily navigable sections, including dedicated zones for haircare, implants and even hair nourishment. One of the most popular sections – and one that, perhaps surprisingly, seemed to appeal to visitors of all ages – was that devoted to wigs.
Wigs, toupees, hairpieces, call them what you will, there was certainly quite a variety on offer. One of the widest ranges, though, came courtesy of Xuchang-based Henan Rebecca Hair Products, with the company's stand positively bristling with hair bundles, lace wigs, and hair extensions.
High-end Hair Products
Overall, Rebecca produces three different varieties of wigs – those made of human hair, those with synthetic hair and those offering a combination of the two. Attempting to explain the cross-generational appeal of its products, Wang Xiaohong, the company's Marketing Director, said: "Essentially, different age groups have different preferences when it comes to wigs. While 18-29-year-olds love hair extensions and like to mix different colours to express their individuality in a striking way, those between 30 and 40 prefer high-end, handmade wigs that are stylish and comfortable to wear. The over-50s, meanwhile, seem to prefer shorter wigs."
One of Rebecca's most expensive products – a beautiful handmade lace wig created from real hair – formed the centerpiece of the company's stand at this year's event. Given its quality and natural appearance, it was easy to see why the company had chosen to forefront it.
The wig, with short hair at the back and longer hair on the sides, costs RMB2,000 (US$300) and, according to Wang, had the hair at the back been longer, the price could easily have doubled. As an added touch, once such a wig has been purchased, the company's design team then customises it, optimising both its fit and look in line with each customer's individual requirements.
Outlining the target market for such products, Wang said: "Overall, 30 to 40-year-olds tend to be the primary buyers of high-end hair products, as they generally have a preference for stylish, high-quality items. By contrast, younger consumers tend to buy far cheaper products, typically made of synthetic hair or a mix of real and synthetic hair, which better suits their desire for frequent hairstyle changes."
Another Xuchang-based manufacturer with a wide range of items on show was Henan Ruimei Hair Products. Explaining just what the company offers, Online Retail Manager Bill Ma said: "We produce all kinds of hair products and create customised products at the request of leading hairstylists. We tend to follow fashion trends closely and aim to launch a new range of products every year."
As well as its latest products, Ruimei was also debuting Fa E Jia, its new e-commerce platform, at this year's event. Developed in-house, the site features sections devoted to innovation, brands, expert recommendations, hair extensions, and cosplay, as well as high-end customisation and hair implants. Clicking on "innovation", for example, allows a potential customer to browse a broad array of wigs in a variety of different hairstyles, each in situ on the head of a real-life model.
Singling out what he sees as making the company's e-commerce system unique, Ma said: "Basically, it's a new style of retail platform that connects hair stylists, suppliers and consumers. Via cloud access, stylists can host their own hair / make-up workshops and recommend a selection of products to their customers, all of which are on offer from connected suppliers. Consumers, meanwhile, can select their favourite hair products and make online bookings with their stylist of choice. At the moment, the platform only offers our own hair products but, in the future, it may offer products from a wide range of brands.
"At present, the demand for hair products is continuing to grow among mainland consumers and many of them welcome ways to buy that are high-tech and convenient. In line with that, our site is easy to use and will offer an enormous product choice."
Ruimei, though, wasn't the only company at the fair with a high-tech take on the future of the haircare industry. Equally forward looking, but taking a wholly different approach, was Beijing's Miu Elegance Information Technology, which had on offer an AI-enabled mirror specially geared to the needs of hair salons and stylists. According to the company's representative, the device has a number of applications, including hair stylist training, hair diagnostic tests, virtual hairstyle modelling, intelligent hair matching and styling comparisons. Hair salon customers can also use the device to watch videos while waiting to have their hair done, and it also comes with a training package designed to teach stylists new techniques and keep them informed as to the latest trends in the haircare world.
Even against an international backdrop of soaring sales in the haircare sector, the mainland market can still be seen as particularly fast-growing, a development that has led many China-based manufacturers – including Rebecca Hair Products – to refocus on the emerging domestic opportunities. As Rebecca's domestic-market share has increased, it has invested in branded outlets in all of China's first- and second-tier cities and is now actively seeking franchisees as it looks to expand its offline sales network. In order to bolster its online sales, it has also set up virtual stores on Tmall, Amazon and eBay, while additionally investing in its own e-commerce platform.
Commenting on the company's changed priorities, Wang said: "Domestic sales now account for 30% of our total sales and are set to overtake our exports in the very near future. We have also invested heavily in R&D, with a focus on hair texture, colour and style in order to ensure our products move with the times. In particular, we have looked to create a range of products that exactly meet the needs of domestic consumers."
Another company wooed by the potentially huge local sales was Qingdao Seaforest Fashion Hair Products, a Shandong-based manufacturer of wigs, hairpieces and hair extensions. Detailing her newly-found faith in the local consumer base, Cui Jiameng, the company's Franchising and Wholesaling Manager, said: "Previously, we largely sold overseas, but we have had to radically rethink our strategy in light of the explosive growth of the mainland market."
The 2018 China International Hair Fair (CIHF) took place from 29-31 August at the Poly World Trade Center Expo in Guangzhou. The event attracted more than 600 exhibitors.
Long Kui, Special Correspondent, Guangzhou