Track­ing the chang­ing face of beauty

Beauty gi­ant Es­tee Lauder wants to reap the bene­fi­fits of Chi­nese shop­pers chas­ing cos­met­ics, Asia-Paci­fific Re­gion Pres­i­dent Fabrice We­ber tells So­phie He.

China Daily (USA) - - HONG KONG - Con­tact the writer at so­phiehe@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The in­sa­tiable ap­petite of Chi­nese con­sumers for beauty prod­ucts and the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of ap­ply­ing makeup has ig­nited the Es­tee Lauder Com­pa­nies, who is well-po­si­tioned to adapt and cap­i­tal­ize on growth, its Asia-Pa­cific Re­gion Pres­i­dent Fabrice We­ber says.

Asian women, in par­tic­u­lar Chi­nese women, are now han­ker­ing for more beauty prod­ucts, and Es­tee Lauder is work­ing tire­lessly to cap­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Asian mar­ket, We­ber tells China Daily.

While South Korean and Ja­panese con­sumers are known for be­ing knowl­edge­able and will­ing to spend on beauty prod­ucts, Chi­nese shop­pers are now quickly fol­low­ing in their foot­steps, he says.

“I think we are in a strong po­si­tion as Chi­nese con­sumers are go­ing in the same di­rec­tion (as South Korean and Ja­panese con­sumers). We see a lot of in­ter­est in beauty. So far it’s mostly in skin care, but now we see makeup and fra­grances be­com­ing very mean­ing­ful and we’re cap­tur­ing that op­por­tu­nity.”

There are more than 25 brands un­der the Es­tee Lauder Com­pa­nies um­brella, with about 15 of those cur­rently in the Asia-Pa­cific, in­clud­ing Es­tee Lauder, La Mer, Clin­ique, Jo Malone and Ori­gins. We­ber says all of its larger brands are avail­able on the Chi­nese main­land and in Hong Kong.

The sud­den rise in de­mand of skin care, makeup and fra­grances is a new trend in the re­gion, says We­ber.

He ex­plains that tra­di­tion­ally in Asia, the fra­grance mar­ket is small, with the makeup mar­ket in China also be­ing a mi­nor player. Chi­nese women in gen­eral are very con­cerned about nour­ish­ing, mois­tur­iz­ing and pro­tect­ing their skin. In cer­tain cities, con­sumers are fo­cus­ing more on aging skin, but not so much the idea of beau­ti­fy­ing them­selves through foun­da­tion, lip­stick, mas­cara or eye shadow.

But this sit­u­a­tion is chang­ing very fast, We­ber says, partly due to the rise of so­cial me­dia.

“In China we are see­ing more ap­petite for women to en­hance them­selves through makeup, and so­cial me­dia is ac­cel­er­at­ing this kind of change.”

Makeup al­lows for in­stant vi­su­al­iza­tion and grat­i­fi­ca­tion, but for skin care, We­ber says while some would ar­gue there is im­prove­ment, it’s not a spec­tac­u­lar trans­for­ma­tion.

So­cial me­dia is play­ing a huge role in Chi­nese con­sumers, es­pe­cially mil­len­ni­als, who are be­com­ing more ac­cus­tomed to makeup as it trends on­line. This can be seen on in­stant mes­sag­ing apps such as WeChat and also on plat­forms in­clud­ing Weibo — peo­ple are pluck­ing up the courage to ap­ply makeup on their faces, We­ber says.

“We see the trend not just in first- and sec­ond-tier cities, but also in third-tier cities in China, which tells us that the fu­ture will be bright. The mar­ket for makeup is quite small now, but con­sumers are now us­ing makeup and foun­da­tion ev­ery day, and us­ing lip­stick ev­ery day — there is a lot of po­ten­tial there.”

The firm has MAC, Bobbi Brown and other makeup brands to cap­ture the grow­ing needs for makeup on the Chi­nese main­land. For skin care, lux­ury brand La Mer is also launch­ing foun­da­tion prod­ucts.

The cur­rent trend in fra­grances on the main­land also presents some in­ter­est­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for the group, We­ber says. A grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple are now us­ing fra­grances daily, which may not have been ac­cept­able in the past, he ex­plains.

Chi­nese con­sumers im­me­di­ately tar­get higher-priced fra­grances, which ex­plains why brands in­clud­ing Jo Malone are per­form­ing well, We­ber says, adding that Es­tee Lauder is in­vest­ing heav­ily in this mar­ket.

He says Chi­nese con­sumers are now de­mand­ing mul­ti­func­tional prod­ucts, as younger cus­tomers lean to­ward their skin care and makeup rolled into one prod­uct. Many peo­ple are chas­ing one prod­uct which has the ef­fect of a serum, mois­tur­iz­ing cream and sun pro­tec­tion fac­tor, We­ber says.

“We are rec­og­niz­ing the changes and em­brac­ing these changes.”

The power of celebri­ties and in­flu­encers is also al­ter­ing the way Es­tee Lauder is mar­ket­ing, We­ber says. Nowa­days, con­sumers are more likely to in­flu­ence each other rather than brands sway­ing cus­tomers, so en­dorse­ments from celebri­ties on so­cial me­dia is play­ing a cru­cial role in spread­ing the word.

This means the com­pany had to be­come a dig­i­tal-first cor­po­ra­tion, he says.

“We also have to un­der­stand our con­sumers, and they want to shop at mul­ti­ple chan­nels to­day.”

The days of con­sumers go­ing to a depart­ment store just to buy beauty prod­ucts are no longer, We­ber says. Now, shop­pers will still go to depart­ment stores and other spe­cialty stores such as Sephora be­fore they check prices on­line. This men­tal­ity helps brands, he ex­plains, as it means con­sumers are more en­gaged and loyal.

“So we need to be where our con­sumers want to shop. To­day on the Chi­nese main­land, con­sumers want to shop on­line.”

We­ber said the com­pany has brand sites on Alibaba’s on­line plat­form Tmall, where it sells to 650 cities on the main­land.

“We re­al­ize that there are con­sumers every­where and they can’t all shop in our stores … this is just the be­gin­ning of what will be­come the new world.”

Es­tee Lauder re­mains com­mit­ted to its breast cancer aware­ness cam­paign, launched in 1992 by Eve­lyn H. Lauder — the daugh­ter-in-law of the com­pany’s ma­tri­arch, Es­tee Lauder. She is widely cred­ited as the cre­ator of the Pink Rib­bon cam­paign, which be­came syn­ony­mous with breast cancer aware­ness around the world.

We­ber says the com­pany re­minds con­sumers through so­cial me­dia and other dig­i­tal plat­forms about the im­por­tance of get­ting their breasts checked by a doc­tor at least once a year, as early detection is vi­tal in fight­ing the dis­ease.

“We know that early detection can save lives and pro­mot­ing that mes­sage is key. Fif­teen of our brands sell prod­ucts to raise money to sup­port breast cancer re­search.”

Editor’snote:Thi­sisanex­tract­fromTheGovern­ingPrin­ci­ple­sofAn­cient onIm­por­tan­tGovern­ingPrin­ci­ples.Com­mis­sioned­byEm­per­orTang Taizon­goftheTangDy­nastyinthe­sev­en­th­cen­tury,the­book­con­tains ad­vice,meth­od­sand­his­tor­i­cal­noteson­the­suc­cess­esand­fail­ure­sof theim­pe­ri­al­go­v­ern­mentsofChina.To­day­it­con­tin­uesto­berel­e­van­tas asource­ofin­spi­ra­tionfor­self-im­prove­ment,fam­i­ly­man­age­men­tand in­ter­per­son­al­re­la­tions.

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