According to Mintel, Asia Pacific accounted for 76% of all global sheet mask launches in 2016. - Photo: © / ESB Professional

Highly popular in Asia

When considering which Asian market is the most innovative, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) most of these launches came from the North Asian region, with China accounting for 28% of all global sheet mask introductions, followed by Taiwan (12%), South Korea (10%), Hong Kong (7%) and Japan (6%). Meanwhile, data from Mintel Market Sizes (MMS) found that China and Japan are currently among the world’s largest facial care markets, estimated to reach a retail market value of US$15.8 billion and US$13.5 billion respectively in 2017. Rounding out the top three facial care markets is South Korea, with a retail market value that is expected to hit US$6.6 billion in 2017.

The product is now a frequent feature in many consumers’ skincare routine. Three in four (75%) consumers in China use sleep masks in the evening; while 69% use sheet masks at the same time of day. Additionally, over half (53%) agree that facial masks are the best first-aid skincare products and three in five (59%) Chinese women aged 30-39 say they feel happy after using a sheet mask. Furthermore, two in five (40%) Thai women have used a face mask in the last 12 months.

Europe and North America

Despite growing popularity in Asia, it appears that European and American consumers are lagging behind in usage. Mintel research shows that just 12% of women in the UK have used a sheet or leave-on mask in the last 12 months [1]. Meanwhile, in the US, just 8% of consumers use facial masks as part of their evening routine and 29% use facial masks on an ‘as-needed’ basis. Furthermore, Mintel data shows that around one in 10 women in France (10%), Germany (10%) and Spain (8%) have used sheet masks in the last 12 months.

However, it does seem that there is appetite for sheet mask innovation in the UK moving forward. Over a third (35%) of UK consumers aged 16-24 say they are using more skincare treatments, such as masks.

The facial mask trend will continue to gain strength in the West, as it becomes part of a regular beauty routine for consumers,” says Sharon Kwek, Senior Innovation and Insights Analyst, Beauty and Personal Care at Mintel.

As to which benefits consumers are looking for in facial masks, hydration is key for consumers in China. Three in four (76%) Chinese women aged 20-49 who use facial masks say they look for the products to provide hydration, followed by 59% who look for whitening and 47% for pore refining.

Meanwhile, among US consumers who have used facial masks and peels, the top four skin concerns users are looking to treat are acne or blemishes (29%), followed by signs of aging (27%), fine lines and wrinkles (27%), and pore size (27%).

Consumers curate their own facial mask routines according to skin type, lifestyle and product offering. In the future, this will drive new product development with different positioning claims and ingredients will be chosen to match different facial mask formats which deliver maximum efficacy. Brands can look to include local ingredients to appeal to consumers who don’t currently use facial masks, and can slowly introduce Asian ingredients that are increasingly of interest to consumers in the global market,” Sharon concludes.