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Practical Design Tips for Chinese Chic Cosmetics (Video)

  •   13 May 2019
  •    Winnie Xu & Hedy He
  •  660
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    Every year when the Chinese Spring Festival comes, major beauty brands launch an abundance of Chinese chic cosmetics to cater to the festive season. However, in the past we have seen manufacturers attempt to produce localized and seasonal products which are far too generic and are often seen by consumers as nothing more than a limp attempt to cash in on the festive season.

    For example, the pressed powders introduced by Armani for the past 3 Chinese spring festivals have disappointed many Chinese consumers. Let's see what it looks like, monotonous red, boring animal image and obvious character design, all of these make the product without any aesthetic value.

    In contrast to Armani' s press powders' bleak sales figures, the Chinese chic blusher launched by Chanel in the spring of 2018 was sold out in 5 hours on the official website. Why has Chanel done so well and what can we learn from them on making a successful Chinese chic cosmetics? 1. Guarantee product aesthetic value and avoid generic localization, don' t come off as a caricature of Chinese culture. It' s a dynamic place with fast moving trends, stay abreast of the trends and speak to your target demographic in an engaging way.

    You must be curious about the secret of this blusher' s popularity. Let' s take a look at the eyeshadow Chanel launched in 2005. Actually, the blusher is almost identical to this eyeshadow. Although launched 14 years ago, it still has an amazing contemporary design that appeals to modern aesthetics.


    The golden embellishment and the collision of red and black are full of Chinese classic lasting appeal, reminiscent of the red wall and golden tiles of the Forbidden City. These are Chinese archetypal design elements that are deeply entrenched elements of the Chinese collective consciousness.
    2. Combine with more creative Chinese elements

    Many companies just pay lip service to their China localized brand design with many Chinese chic cosmetics defaulting to use of Chinese zodiac animals on their products. If there is one sure way to get lost amongst a sea of generic "me too" designs go with the Chinese zodiac.

    Currently in China, the largest consumers of cosmetics is the “post-90s” generations. This demographic cherish and value their traditional culture very much but also have been exposed to the forces of mass globalization. Trust me, a very superficial interpretation of China' s culture is more likely to annoy them that it will entice them.

    Maybelline stopped relying on cliché designs in early 2019 by providing consumers with a set of customized mahjong (an extremely popular Chinese game) as a free gift along with the purchase of its new-year makeup sets. The employment of typical Chinese entertainment-mahjong in its new-year limited edition is very unique and super-creative. Undoubtedly it stands out amongst the more conventional Chinese chic makeups and garnered a lot of interest.



    Now let' s take a look at Chinese enterprises' performance. Chinese consumers' pursuit of stylish design and cultural context leads us to the last but also the most important element to remember when designing cosmetics.

    3. Cultural context is key

    You might have heard about the Forbidden City makeups before, but we're not going to talk about this. The next thing we are going to talk about is the makeup gift sets jointly designed by Pechoin and an experienced designer from Forbidden City Culture, Zhong Hua.

    The shape of the gift sets comes from the mirror box which Chinese ancient nobilities used to store the toiletries. All the elements adopted are imbued with profound implications in Chinese traditional culture, for example, magnolia symbolize purity, magpies represents good luck, and the peacock is happiness and auspiciousness.


    The gift sets showed great popularity among consumers and were sold out in 35 seconds on Tmall. Yup that' s right 35 seconds to sell all the inventory. This is the power of a quality product localized to the Chinese market.

    Enterprises that spend a large amount of time and money to design and launch Chinese chic cosmetics want to show their sincerity toward Chinese consumers. But Chinese elements should not be limited to red color or zodiac animals. The plum blossoms, Chinese calligraphy, even the bricks and tiles in the Chinese palace wall or Chinese gardens are shining examples of Chinese cultural icons that are sure to resonate with consumers. Therefore, brands should explore the true connotation of Chinese culture, only in this way can the products resonate with Chinese consumers.

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    So it's obvious that understanding culture is the key.
    Monday, 13 May 2019