A closer look at China’s hair care market boom – WWD

As China’s rising middle class seeks a better quality of life, China’s hair care market is booming.

Gone are the days of the whole family washing their hair with washing powder, as basic necessities were rationed during Mao’s reign. Shampoos and conditioners were symbols of Western civilization alongside McDonald’s and Coca-Cola when China then reopened its doors to the world in the 1980s. TV ads from brands like Procter & Gamble Head & Shoulders, Unilever’s Clear and L’Oréal’s Kérastase have inspired generations of Chinese consumers to find beauty and confidence with healthy hair while improving family living conditions through hard work.

Now that social media and half of the country are urbanized, a new generation of consumers are demanding dedicated products to meet their different needs and are willing to spend a little more to get the desired result.

“I spend as much money on my hair as I spend on my face,” said Beijing-based Joe Yue, who works at a venture capital firm. “I have fine hair and a sensitive scalp due to my long hours, so I need to use products that can give me volume without putting too much stress on the skin underneath.

She spends around $250 a month on hair treatments, including a scalp massage with essential oils every two weeks, blow-drys at fancy hair salons, and all the new and niche products to try at home. .

Those who respond to this shift to premiumization in the space are generating huge profits. Procter & Gamble’s haircare business in China, for example, experienced one of the strongest periods of growth in the past decade, double-digit growth, while other regions remained at single-digit growth.

The company attributed its success to Pantene’s high-end innovation in conditioners, treatments and consumer communication, which “shattered the digital clutter, through impactful online engagements like live streaming of influencers,” the company said. Its high-end line, which includes the thickening and soothing scalp treatment and the overnight leave-in hair treatment, is priced three to four times higher than its mainstream offerings.

A report on Chinese hair care market trends, published by Tmall and CBN Data, showed that demand for high-end shampoos, which sell for above 120 renminbi, or $18.20, from brands like Kérastase , L’Occitane, René Furterer and Moroccanoil, grew much faster than mid-market players such as Hair Recipe, Ryo, Spes and Schwarzkopf.

In terms of functions, demands for volume, oil control, dandruff and anti-itch products are strong, while silicone-free, ginger, mellow and coconut fragrances are new trending keywords.

The market for high-end conditioners is growing twice as fast as that of mainstream brands, with international players such as Kérastase, Moroccanoil, Grow Gorgeous, L’Oréal Professionnel and René Furterer dominating the best-selling rankings, reveals The report. The main requirements for conditioners are stabilizing color, repairing dryness and frizz, as well as stimulating hair growth and being steam free.

A report by market research firm Mintel found that, similar to Yue, consumers in China are moving away from traditional conditioners and towards hair oils, serums and leave-in hair masks, as many consumers urban Chinese consider hair care to be equally important. than skincare and are willing to invest more in high-end products.

Some 42% of Chinese respondents purchased leave-in hair oils or serums in 2020, up from 39% in 2019; while 34% of them bought a hair mask in 2020, an increase of 2% compared to 2019.

As a result, Mintel expects China’s shampoo and hair care market to reach 60.5 billion renminbi, or $9.16 billion, by 2025.

Anne Yin, Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, said: “The growth of the Chinese hair care market is driven by the hair conditioner and treatment segment and attributed to female consumers embracing a wider variety of hair care products, as well as male and female consumers. embracing scalp care products, despite being a newer industry.

“Meanwhile, with consumers as keen on caring for their hair as they are for their skin, brands have been active in launching new products and incorporating skincare concepts into haircare products, all of which have supported steady growth in the near-saturated shampoo segment,” she added.

Mintel also reported that Chinese consumers are eager to try new things, whether it’s constantly changing products or trusting new brands, as some 66% of respondents said they don’t. didn’t like to keep using the same hair care products.

Yin believed that “Chinese consumers’ new product trials are mainly driven by benefits specifically targeting their hair problems and hair conditions, similar to the function-oriented skin care market. Benefit-focused product design and communication should go further to include more ingredient information and education about the mechanisms of benefit. Additionally, personalization of care delivery could also help products better meet the demands of individuals. »

JuE Wong, managing director of patented hair brand Olaplex, also sees premiumization, customization and skinification, referring to the rise of sophisticated formulas used in hair care products that have typically been used in hair care. skin-like trends that will lead the hair care business into the future.

She observed that consumers are willing to pay a high price for technological, quality and results-oriented products that work. And, as with skincare, there is an element of ritual that is embraced with haircare, keeping the consumer coming back.

‘Women today are asking – if I can get so much for my skincare, why can’t I do the same [for hair], especially since the scalp is a continuation of the skin. The other thing is when you’re willing to look at hair skinning, you’re also willing to pay a little more,” she said at WWD’s Beauty CEO Summit last year.

The company more than doubled its net sales to $598.4 million in 2021 and forecasts between $796 million and $826 million in net sales for 2022.

She cited China as a key market for the brand, as the country accounts for more than 10% of the $77 billion global prestige hair care market.

To better reach young and affluent Chinese consumers, the brand last October formed a strategic partnership with JD.com to bolster its e-commerce offerings and appointed Daniel Zhou of boy band INTO1 as its first brand ambassador.

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