Sales of beauty product grew by +8% between 2017-18 in Asia, compared to +4% for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) as a whole, finds Kantar in a recent report [1]. According to the market research firm, the quest for health is one of the main key drivers behind this growth.

"Asian people believe health is almost twice as important to their happiness as having more money," says Ashley Kang, Head of Beauty Sector at Kantar Worldpanel division. "They see what they put on their skin as a health supplement - and this has changed the products and benefits they desire. They are extremely knowledgeable too, so brands must be transparent in their communications. The wellness trend is also encouraging certain emerging formats to thrive."

Derma-care is becoming mainstream

For instance, new sophisticated formats in skincare and makeup that provide derma-care properties are rising in popularity. Derma brands have reached almost 45% penetration in Korea, a massive influx from just over 25% in 2017. Their second highest reach is Taiwan at 40%, an increase from 37.6% in 2017.

Derma products can be used to treat specific skin issues, such as eczema or sensitive skin, or emerging issues such as pollution protection. “With consumer brands launching their own ranges, derma-care is increasingly more mainstream, when it was once a niche segment and a domain of brands with a heritage in pharmaceuticals. Developments in retail and distribution are helping to increase the footprint of these products outside drugstores,” explains Kantar.

Natural look

Natural glow is the most sought after look in Asia right now, says Kantar. This quest has helped drive sales of serums that promise intense hydration with the highest penetration rate in Korea (61%, rising from 58% in 2017). In China, penetration of serums has increased from 18% in 2017 to nearly 26% today.

In addition to hydrating serums, specific makeup products - including liquid foundation, BB creams, and primer/concealer - can help people achieve the right translucent effect. “All of them are soaring in popularity,” says Kantar.

Kantar predicts that makeup that provides skincare or medicinal benefits will be a key growth area for the future. Various crossover products have already emerged between the skincare and makeup segments, such as toner cream that brightens the skin. “Positioning these products closer to skincare can be an effective strategy in China, where there remains a perception that the pigments in makeup could be harmful,” adds the market research firm.

Men-only skincare

The number of men using skincare products is growing steadily across Asia, particularly in China, South Korea, and Thailand. They are buying in more categories as they add more steps to their beauty regime. However, most are still not buying products that have been created specifically for men. Products targeted at men contribute 10% of the total value sales for beauty in the region, but this segment is growing slower than unisex skincare brands.

"Men in their twenties are most likely to buy men-only skincare products, but as they get older they begin to use whatever products they find on the bathroom shelf," explains Ashley Kang. "There is a substantial growth opportunity here for brands that can shift spend from unisex products to men-only variants, and prevent men from ’lapsing’ as they get older, particularly for products promising oil control, anti-aging, whitening, and sunscreen benefits."

Bespoke products

Eventually, Kantar points out the interest of Asian shoppers in customised products, which are rapidly gaining momentum in both skincare and makeup.