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China’s Skincare and Cosmetics Distribution Channels: Characteristics of Male Consumers podcast

As consumption levels in China continue to rise and the country’s international business ties develop, looks increasingly matter at work. In light of this, the growth potential of the mainland skincare and cosmetics products market should not be underestimated. According to Euromonitor International’s estimates, retail sales in China’s male skincare and cosmetics products market will grow at an average annual rate of 13.5% during 2016-2019, much higher than the global average of 5.8%, to top RMB1.9 billion in 2019.

In order to get a good understanding of the characteristics and development trends of China’s skincare and cosmetics products market, HKTDC Research conducted a series of company visits, consumer focus group discussions and an online questionnaire survey between October and December 2015 (see Appendix for details). The survey covered an in-depth study into the spending mentality, consumer preferences, purchase considerations, and purchase channels of mainland consumers of skincare and cosmetics products. This article examines the product information and purchase channels of mainland male consumers in buying such products.

Mature Male Consumers More Likely To Obtain Product Information from Traditional Ads

The survey shows that TV commercials (53%), video site ads (37%) and shopping mall/department store/specialty store displays (31%) are the major channels through which male respondents obtain information on skincare and cosmetics products. Male respondents participating in the focus group discussions indicated they seldom exchange information on skincare or cosmetics products and do not take the initiative to find out details about brands or products. Rather, they are more likely to obtain information on products passively from media ads.

The proportion of mature male respondents (aged 31-45) obtaining information from traditional media ads (e.g. TV and newspapers/magazines) is higher than that of the young respondents (aged 20-30). Conversely, the proportion of young male respondents obtaining information from Internet ads (e.g. video site ads and mobile/computer pop-up ads) is higher than for their more mature counterparts.

 

Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Products Information Channels Used by Men
Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Products Information Channels Used by Men

 

More Men with Higher Incomes Obtain Information from Newspapers/ Magazines

The survey finds that no matter the monthly household income of male respondents, TV commercials are the major channel they use to obtain information on skincare and cosmetics products. Among male respondents with a monthly household income of over RMB40,000, meanwhile, 42% say they obtain product information from “newspapers/magazines”, a proportion higher than the overall average of 30%.

 

Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Product Information Channels Used by Men with Different Monthly
Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Product Information Channels Used by Men with Different Monthly

 

Men Tend To Make Planned Purchases

Some male respondents in the focus group discussions said they seldom stock up on skincare or cosmetics products and instead make purchases when their products are almost used up. Due to this habit, along with the fact that there are only a few skincare or cosmetics brands and products for men on the market, male consumers often already have plans to buy a particular product before they set out to shop. However, some respondents said that if they come across brand promoters who recommend a new brand/product to them, they can be easily persuaded to make an “impulse purchase”. The survey finds that the ratio of male respondents making “planned purchases” as against “impulse purchases” is 6:4.

 

Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Products Buying Habits of Men
Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Products Buying Habits of Men

 

The survey shows that the higher the monthly household income of male respondents, the more likely they are to make impulse purchases of skincare and cosmetics products. Only 36% of those with a monthly household income of under RMB10,000 said they would make “impulse purchases”, as against 44% of those with a monthly household income of RMB20,000-40,000. Correspondingly, the proportion of male respondents with a monthly household income of less than RMB10,000 making “planned purchases” of skincare and cosmetics products is higher.

 

Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Products Buying Habits of Men with Different Monthly Household Incomes
Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Products Buying Habits of Men with Different Monthly Household Incomes

 

Online Shopping is Men’s Main Purchase Channel

Among the different purchase channels, 55% of our male respondents identify  “online shops” as their main channel for purchasing skincare and cosmetics products, followed by “brand name stores” (44%). Due most likely to the fact that there are fewer  skincare and cosmetics brands and products for men on the market, male consumers often keep buying the same brands they have used before, which makes buying online more convenient.

Although 55% of the male respondents opt to buy skincare and cosmetics products online, when taking “physical stores” and “online shops” as two main purchase channels, merely 14% of them indicate they only buy these products at online shops, 35% say they only make purchases at physical stores, and 51% say they would buy at both physical stores and online shops. In summary, about 86% of the male respondents buy skincare and cosmetics products at physical stores, while 65% of them make purchases at online shops. Overall, the proportion of male respondents buying skincare and cosmetics products at physical stores is higher than those making purchases at online shops.

 

Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Products Purchase Channels Used by Men
Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Products Purchase Channels Used by Men

 

The main distribution channels for skincare products on the mainland include department stores, KA channels [1] (hypermarkets), CS channels [2] (for example, multi-brand household chemicals stores), e-commerce, and mobile devices (for example, WeChat shops). (For more details, please see Physical Stores: A Key Marketing Channel for Skincare Products and Cosmetics in China). The higher the monthly household income of male respondents, the more likely they are to buy skincare and cosmetics products at brand name stores than the overall average. It is worth noting that the proportion of male respondents with a monthly household income of over RMB40,000 buying skincare and cosmetics products from “online shopping/overseas purchasing”, “beauty chain stores”, “beauty parlours”, “drugstores” and “WeChat shops” are higher than the overall average.

 

Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Products Purchase Channels Used by Men with Different Monthly
Table: Skincare and Cosmetics Products Purchase Channels Used by Men with Different Monthly

 

“Genuine Goods” the Top Reason for Buying at Physical Stores

Among male respondents who “buy skincare/cosmetics products more at physical stores”, their primary reason for doing so, regardless of age, is that they believe such products are more likely to be “genuine goods/reliable” (71%). The second reason given is “instructions/ opinions provided by professional sales personnel” (50%). For new brands/products, 45% of the more mature male respondents say they sample them at physical stores before buying, a proportion higher than that of the young respondents (38%).

 

Table: Reasons for Buying Skincare and Cosmetics Products More at Physical Stores
Table: Reasons for Buying Skincare and Cosmetics Products More at Physical Stores

 

Convenience the Top Reason for Shopping Online

Among male respondents who “buy skincare/cosmetics products more online”, 71% indicate that they do so because “online shopping is convenient/ offers delivery service”. The proportion of young male respondents opting to buy at online shops because they “can find some special/niche products online” (52%) is slightly higher than that of the more mature male respondents (48%). Meanwhile, the proportion of mature male respondents opting to buy skincare/cosmetics products at online shops because “online prices are cheaper” (67%) is slightly higher than for their younger counterparts (64%).

 

Table: Reasons for Buying Skincare and Cosmetics Products More Online
Table: Reasons for Buying Skincare and Cosmetics Products More Online

 

Spending at Physical Stores Roughly the Same as Online

Overall, male respondents spent RMB3,496 on average on skincare and cosmetics products in the year prior to the survey, of which RMB1,788 was spent at physical stores and RMB1,681 online. It is worth noting that the average spending of male respondents from Beijing, Nanjing and Qingdao on skincare and cosmetics products online is higher than their spending at physical stores. Meanwhile, the average annual spending of male respondents from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Nanjing, Chongqing, Qingdao, Changzhou and Wuxi on skincare and cosmetics products overall is higher than the average.

 

Table: Average Spending on Skincare and Cosmetics Products in the Past Year
Table: Average Spending on Skincare and Cosmetics Products in the Past Year

 

The higher the monthly household income of male respondents, the higher also is their spending on skincare and cosmetics products. In the year prior to the survey, male respondents with a monthly household income of under RMB10,000 spent an average of RMB2,136 on skincare and cosmetics products, while those with a monthly household income of over RMB40,000 spent almost triple that figure: RMB6,219 on average.. In other words, to a large extent, monthly household income directly impacts on men’s purchasing power for skincare and cosmetics products.

 

Table: Average Spending on Skincare and Cosmetics Products in the Past Year, by Monthly Household
Table: Average Spending on Skincare and Cosmetics Products in the Past Year, by Monthly Household

 

Conclusion

Traditional TV commercials are the main channel used by the majority of men in the mainland to obtain information on skincare and cosmetics products. The proportion of young male respondents obtaining information from the Internet – especially from channels such as video sites and WeChat – is higher. Conversely, the proportion of mature and higher-earning male respondents obtaining information on skincare and cosmetics products from traditional media (TV and newspapers/magazines) is higher than that of their younger counterparts. Although the proportion of men buying skincare and cosmetics products at physical stores is slightly higher than that buying online, average spending online is roughly the same as at physical stores. In view of this, brands targeting men in different age groups should choose the right advertising channels, with equal emphasis placed on both physical stores and online shops as sales channels.

 

 

Appendix:

Table: Focus Group Discussions
Table: Focus Group Discussions

 

Table: Online Questionnaire Survey
Table: Online Questionnaire Survey

 

Table: Average Monthly Household Income of Male Respondents
Table: Average Monthly Household Income of Male Respondents

 


[1]  KA (Key Account) channels are made up predominantly of large retail chains that have  a large business area and heavy customer flow.

[2]  CS (Customer Satisfaction) channels refer to the system of points of sales, comprising cosmetics stores, household chemicals stores and premium goods stores.

Content provided by Picture: Alice Tsang
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