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        Source: CHEAA-run China Appliance magazine

        With the rise of beauty economy comes an opportunity for beauty and personal care appliances to grow. A number of big brands of the industry have been building their strong presences on social media and reality shows with celebrity endorsements.

        A hot market with big prospects

        As “she-economy” becomes a new trend, people’s life philosophy changes with more attention put on health and personal care, and their desires for looking young and sophisticated are increasingly strong. Compared with expensive membership cards for beauty and health care, beauty and personal care appliances are more budget friendly, which allow consumers to enjoy professional beauty care experience at home. In recent years, the industry experiences an explosive growth with female consumers being the largest consumer group of beauty and personal care appliances including hair dryers, facial machines, hair curlers, hair straighteners and female hair removal products.

        China’s personal care market (which covers seven categories including hair dryer, shaver, electric toothbrush, facial machine, hair curler and straightener, hair removal appliance for female use and water flosser) grew from 13 billion Yuan in 2015 to 41.6 billion Yuan in 2019 with a compound five-year growth rate of 27%, according to GfK. During the pandemic, retail sales value of personal care appliances for the first nine months of 2020 came to 34.3 billion Yuan with a year-on-year growth of 17%, of which hair dryers took the biggest share of the hair care market with hair curlers and hair clippers growing fast, electric toothbrushes for adult use accounted for the biggest share of oral care market with electric toothbrushes and water flossers for children use setting a new trend, and IPL hair removal products for female use stood out in performance in the shaver market with a growth of 62%.

        The rising “lazy economy” and “the economy of pleasing yourself” draw in a large influx of entrants into the beauty and personal care market. My interviewee from Ecolite introduces that, the number of newly registered facial machine enterprises reached 24,000 in 2019 with a year-on-year growth of 41.6%, and the number came to 13,000 in the first three quarters of 2020. Currently, there are 81,000 facial machine enterprises on the market.

        It is learned that beauty and personal care enterprises can be broken down into five groups: (1) foreign brands that aim at premium market including Dyson, Panasonic, Philips, YA-MAN, Tripollar and Ulike; (2) traditional home appliance brands that target the 90s generation, generation Z and the middle class; (3) beauty and personal care brands that have been expanding product lines to meet consumer needs including K·SKIN, SKG, SID, Flyco and Riwa; (4) Startups that aim at niche markets such as Soocas, MKS and DOCO; (5) traditional skincare and oral care brands who roll out matching products for their traditional products including SK-II, Olay and Saky.

        Though there have been no hit products such as Dyson’s hair dryer and Luna’s facial cleansing massager rolled out in recent two years, new personal care products have been multiplying, accounting for 39% of products on the market in 2020, of which facial machines, hair removal products for female use, electric toothbrushes, water flossers, shavers, hair dryers and hair curlers and straighteners stood out.

        The market share of local brands rose to 35% from 33% in 2019 and is still rising at a steady pace. The market share of leading brands rose to 57% from 52%, which still leaves big room for small and medium brands to grow. The seven categories of the industry all saw a 30%-48% growth of new products, which shows enterprises’ efforts in new product development.

        When it comes to market penetration, penetration rates of shavers and hair dryers are pretty high but electric toothbrushes, water flossers and facial machines are lower than Europe, American, Japan and South Korea, which means the market potential is huge. A report released by China Household Electrical Appliances Association regarding beauty and personal care industry in 2018 points out that, the market potential is huge. The report believes the market size of the industry will reach hundred billion level down the road and the industry is entering an exciting development period.

        Well-targeting, the key of marketing

        The distribution and marketing patterns of the industry change in the fast-developing digital economy.

        With online market being the main battle field, competition over emerging distribution channels is fierce. According to my interviewee from K·SKIN, enterprises distribute their products in various channels. Currently, the company have been in close cooperation with e-commerce platforms including Tmall, JD.com, Pinduoduo and Vip.com as well as live-streaming platforms such as Kuaishou and Douyin, and the cooperation has generated exciting results.

        As mobile internet develops fast, consumers’ habits of obtaining information are making a bigger influence on the campaign strategies of enterprises. Consumers are exposed to diversified media and are more and more influenced by key opinion leaders on social media. Thus targeting consumers in the right way becomes the key of marketing. Many enterprises launch well-targeting promotions on APPs such as Xiaohongshu and WeChat which both have strong social connections.

        Analyzing the preferences of different demographics is necessary for enterprises to launch well-targeting campaigns. I learn from my interviewee from Panasonic that the company uses its tools such as data bank and strategy center to get accurate needs of different demographics and then launch well-targeting user operation and media operation accordingly. It has accumulated a solid user base on some platforms that boast strong traffic such as WeChat, Weibo and Douyin. “But as the profit generated from traffic gets thin, we will put more efforts in product differentiation and story-telling to show our strength. We attract traffic with our brand, instead of building our brand through traffic.”

        Behind the diversified marketing campaigns, a severe problem of the industry surfaces, which is prioritizing marketing over R&D. Beauty and personal care products on the market are homogenous. As a result, some enterprises put great weight on appearance design. Though consumers are willing to pay for the appearance, it is more than that. The survey launched by China Appliance magazine shows that, appearance is only a small factor in play when consumers purchase a home appliance. In fact, those who take appearance as their priorities only account for around 20% while those who prioritize brand, price and function more than 70%. Plus, product review is also an important factor.

        My interviewee from Panasonic believes that, to gain a steady foothold in the competitive market, an enterprise must have strong capability, brand value and products well recognized by consumers. For example, facial machines that offer immediate effect to consumers compared to some traditional beauty care methods will win more users but those that fail to meet users’ expectations will be phased out. Beyond that, an enterprise’s whole-process management capability that covers R&D, supply chain management, production, sales, marketing, after-sales services and user base management and maintenance is important. With one linking to another, every part of the chain has to be strong or the development of the enterprise would be hindered.

        Standard establishment and product quality R&D in need

        With a large number of players and a broad range of product categories, the market is awash with substandard products and copycat brands, leading to a chaotic market order particularly in the middle and low end markets. Beauty and personal care products are frequently listed on the substandard list released after random inspections.

        To avoid bad money driving out the good and ensure a fair market order, the establishment of a standard system is very important, and the industry has been working hard to build it.

        For example, the existing standards for facial machines cannot meet the market need anymore, which makes standard establishment an urgent issue. YA-MAN proposed to establish an industry standard that covers the safety and functionality of facial machines, with safety referring to skin conditions such as red spot, itching, prickling, acne and wrinkle resulted after using a facial machine and functionality referring to effects such as skin smoothing and wrinkle reducing after using a facial machine.

        In recent years, China Household Electrical Appliances Association has been dedicated to the development of the industry. It established a beauty and personal care special committee and developed T/CHEAA 0009-2019 Powered Toothbrushes, the world’s first group standard on the performance of electric toothbrushes, T/CHEAA 0008-2019 Curling and/or straightening hair stylers, a standard that well reflects the needs of the industry and T/CHEAA 0014-2020 Powered Oral Irrigators, the industry’s first standard on water flossers, filling the standard void of the industry. Zhu Jun, Vice President of China Household Electrical Appliances Association, says, establishing these standards help regulate the behaviors of enterprises, improve product quality and manufacturing capability, clarify the concepts of new categories and improve the awareness of consumers.

        The rise of beauty economy and consumers’ pursuit of stylish, high-quality products pave the way for the rise of beauty and personal care appliances. For enterprises, quality, product positioning and an in-depth study of the needs of female consumers are very important.

        While new brands rise, a number of existing brands get phased out mostly for their technical backwardness. The beauty and personal care industry is getting mature and is going into a hundred billion era. At that time, quality products with core competitiveness will be the ultimate winner.