"The future (of beauty) is being rewritten", according to a 2018 Nielsen beauty report. In the world of fast-moving consumer goods, the beauty industry is steadfastly guided by trends.
Finding the connection between micro-trends and macro consumer needs makes it possible to anticipate shifts towards the next big thing, according to Dr Wolfgang Baier, group CEO of Luxasia, a leading omnichannel strategy partner in Asia-Pacific, focused on beauty and luxury lifestyle brand distribution.
Northeast Asia presents the potential opportunity for (brands to enjoy) large revenues. This is an attractive market entry propositionDr Wolfgang Baier, group CEO, Luxasia
Baier told STYLE how the beauty industry in Northeast Asia compares with the rest of the world - and how Hong Kong forms the "beauty gateway" into mainland China.
"The beauty industry across the world, especially in Asia-Pacific is highly fragmented and heterogeneous, nuanced with shades arising from diverse cultures, preferences and trends," he says.
"In Northeast Asia, as consumers move to being more discerning in their expectations about skincare and beauty products, this sets their requirements to be more sophisticated than counterparts in Europe and the US."
Innovation is key, he says, with Chinese millennials moving towards a culture in which individuality outweighs conformity.
Here are the six key trends he predicts for the Asia-Pacific.
1. Massive growth in skincare use across Asia-Pacific
Driving this trend is galloping demand from China. It is projected that China will capture 23 per cent of the global skincare market and 43 per cent of the global online skincare market by 2024, driven by a population that is highly engaged digitally.
This will also make China the largest online skincare market in the future. By 2024, skincare is expected to account for 60 per cent of beauty sales in China.
2. Increase in use of anti-ageing products
There will be huge growth in the use of anti-wrinkle products because of the increase in age of skincare-focused consumers and a heightened awareness of skin concerns.
China will capture 23 per cent of the global skincare market and 43 per cent of the global online skincare market by 2024, driven by a population that is highly engaged digitally.
Through credible feedback from frontline retail staff and brand management staff in China, Luxasia found that there was untapped demand for anti-ageing products among some of its clients.
3. Convenience in consumption
There will be higher adoption rates for skincare products that offer dual or multiple benefits, or products that can be easily applied on the go, or those that are easily absorbed into the skin.
In response to this trend, there will be more products that fit these purposes, such as make-up removers that also cleanse and tone, or day creams that also provide pore-reduction or ultra-violet-ray protection on top of moisturising.
4. Product customisation and reinvention of the fragrance sector
Gone are the days when it was sufficient to split fragrances by gender.
Today, what sets a fragrance apart is its evocation of memories, moods and sentiments. One example is Floraiku's first Asian outlet in BR4, in Taipei, Taiwan, which offers couples the fragrance brand's store concept with tea appreciation, emphasising the brand's story of fragrance as poetry.
Beyond this, there are digital fragrance profiling tools by brands such as the British perfume house, Penhaligon's, which help to enrich the fragrance selection process.
5. Blurring the lines between online and offline
In the future there will be many omnichannel consumer engagements and marketing campaigns to delight consumers, as brands bring about innovative retail experiences which are experiential, engaging and fun.
These offerings will include customisable lighting in bricks-and-mortar stores, bespoke beauty products or digital tools and devices to provide individualised experiences through virtual reality or augmented reality, which will offer unique experiences to consumers.
6. Millennials are the driving force
The younger generation of consumers, comprising millennials and Gen-Z, will drive the coming trends because of their unique range of behaviour and values, especially when it comes to personalisation and customisation.
Members of this consumer demographic like to make purchases on the internet - 91 per cent of them shop for online deals on their mobile phones.
However, a surprising three-quarters of this younger generation also say that going in store provides a better shopping experience, according to a study by the International Council of Shopping Centers, the global trade association of the shopping centre industry.
Baier says: "Northeast Asia presents the potential opportunity for (brands to enjoy) large revenues.
"With the sheer size of the Northeast Asian market, any brand done well, even if mid-sized, can bring in an amount comparable to a whole Southeast Asia country-sized business. This is an attractive market entry proposition."
By 2024, 43 per cent of China's beauty sales are expected to come from online sales, totalling US$32.4 billion … and will have overtaken the US, Japan and South Korea as the world's largest online prestige beauty marketForrester Analytics
However, with new venture, there is an element of risk, which is where Luxasia is useful for its many partners, often through long-term brand building strategies in different markets.
According to the research company, Forrester Analytics, by 2024, 43 per cent of China's beauty sales are expected to come from online sales, totalling US$32.4 billion.
By that time China will have overtaken the United States, Japan, and South Korea to become the world's largest online prestige beauty market.
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