Beauty instruments started gaining traction amongst Chinese consumers several years ago and are now an important sector intimately related to the broader cosmetics sector.
According to Euromonitor International, the global personal care and beauty device sales growth rate reached 270% from 2009 to 2014 and is expected to reach 300 billion RMB by 2020.
According to a report released by the market research firm Mintel in 2017, Chinese Consumers’ Attitudes towards Beauty Devices, up to 59% of Chinese female urban consumers aged 20-49 said they have used at least one home beauty device.
In this year’s 618 shopping festival, the year-on-year growth rate of beauty devices was 60% on Tmall, one of the biggest E-commerce platforms in China. According to Cathay Securities and Euromonitor International, the total sales of cleansing instrument increased from 2.24 billion RMB to 8.26 billion RMB this year.
History of beauty devices in China
The first-time beauty devices caught the attention of Chinese consumers was when European and American cleansing brands Clarisonic and FOREO entered the market. Clarisonic was founded in the United States in 2004. It was acquired by L'Oréal in 2011. It entered China’s market in 2013 under the operation of L'Oréal. The Swedish brand FOREO was established in 2013 and entered the Chinese market in the year of its establishment. At present, China is the third market developed by FOREO after Europe and the United States and is the largest market for FOREO.
In 2015, Tmall began to develop beauty device categories, inviting Japanese beauty device brands such as YA-MAN to enter their platform, and reached a strategic cooperation with ReFa's parent company, Japan MTG Co. Ltd. in 2016. In May of last year, Tmall also organized a special category day marketing campaign for beauty devices and cooperated with brands to enhance consumers' awareness of the entire category. With the promotion of e-commerce in China, more high-end beauty device brands entered China’s market. Some domestic beauty device brands also started to sprout during this period.
China’s market has evolved rapidly over the last decade which has translated to a shift in consumer purchasing preference away from basic cleansing devices towards more advanced anti-aging devices such as massage, RF and micro-current products.
About the price
There is a two-tier market operating in China, one is for expensive imports, mainly Japanese brand such as ReFa and Yameng, as well as Israeli brands such as Tripollar and the Swedish brand LUNA. Prices start at about 1,000 RMB. The other side of the market is for cheap, mass produced domestic products with a similar shape and similar function as imported products but less than one-tenth the price.
Although low prices usually mean low quality, a certain number of consumers are still willing to pay for these low-price products. The problem is that there are few middle-level beauty devices in the market. Some brands have tried to launch products in the 200-800 rmb range but have had limited success. FOREO launched three new products, Luna play with price of about 300 RMB Luna play plus with price of about 400 RMB and Luna fofo with price of about 700 RMB.
New beauty machine: cosmetic 3D printing machines
Different from ordinary beauty devices, cosmetic 3D printing machines are not applied to consumers’ skin directly, instead they are used to produce customized cosmetics which are then used by consumers. Two prominent examples are:
In 2019, a US-based skin care brand, Neutrogena displayed its first customized 3D printing mask, MaskiD in 2019 CES Asia. MaskiD is driven by powerful technological innovations to provide a customized skincare experience in three dimensions: facial contour customization; skincare ingredient partition customization; 3D printing.
- Facial contour customization
MaskiD is the first skin care essence mask tailored to the user's face. Users only need to use a mobile phone with function of infrared depth of field analysis to download a specific App to scan the face. After scanning, the application can accurately obtain facial feature data, accurately measuring the user's face size, nose shape, eye distance, lip width, etc. The measurement accuracy can be accurate to 0.1mm.
- Skincare ingredient partition customization
MaskiD customizes skin care ingredients based on the various parts of the user's face. The MaskiD mask is divided into six areas - forehead, eyelids, nose, cheeks, chin, and nasolabial folds. The app customizes and suggests different skin care ingredients based on the skin condition and needs of each user's face. For example, hyaluronic acid is applied in water-deficient areas while vitamin C derivatives are applied to areas where skin lightening is required.
- 3D printing
With a unique 3D printing process, Neutrogena combines top quality skincare ingredients to accurately print to the six areas of the hydrogel mask (forehead, eyelids, nose, cheeks, chin, nasolabial fold), allowing effective ingredients to act on the most needed skin parts, and truly achieve "customized skin care." MaskiD is expected to be available to Chinese consumers in 2020.
Another product is from a startup, Mink. It sells a product named Mink 3D makeup printer. The word “Mink” is combined by “makeup” and “ink”. And the concept and prototype were released by the co-founder Grace Choi at the 2014 TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
Mink's original prototype only prints eye shadows. After being iterated many times, it currently weighs 2.2 pounds (about 998 grams) and can be placed in a tote bag. And it can print a total of 16.7 million different colors. Mink's official website shows that the cosmetics' basic ingredients are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The operation of the latest version of Mink is quite simple. Users can simply upload photos using the app, whether it's from the web, a mobile photo album, or a social platform, and then choose to print all the colors or just a single color in the image. Then they insert a Mink makeup sheet into tray and press send to print. Users can get a thin and portable cosmetic piece, and each piece of printed cosmetics can be stored for two weeks. Mink also specially introduced a protective film to prevent the powder from getting into other places.
Mink is currently available for preorder. A small amount of equipment will be sold at US$295/set. The estimated delivery time is 2020.
Although the growth rate of beauty devices in China is exceptional, there is still room for more growth. In this fast-metabolic market, there are always opportunities and challenges for brands. What important is to be creative all the time, embrace changes, keep making progress and figure out what consumers truly want.
Note: This is the last article in a series of articles entitled, Application of New Tech in China’s Cosmetic Sector. Thank you for reading them.