Hello everyone. Welcome to my interview series. This episode we’re going to talk to Holly Kim from Measure China.
She is originally from Korea but has lived in China and the US and has an extensive experience of all three markets.
She’s really focused on helping Beauty Brands make data-based decisions in the competitive and rapidly growing market China.
Holly, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you Allie for having me today. We’ve got lots of things to talk about and obviously Holly has lots and lots of data at her fingertips so we could go on all day.
What is the overview about Measure China and how you guys help Beauty Brands in the market?
What we do normally is that we track all the eCommerce and social channels. That by tracking e-commerce platform we can know what kind of products or brands consumer actually do purchase online and through analyzing social media platforms.
We can actually find out like understanding the unmet needs of consumers and what they actually do talking about is social media in terms of the foreign brands or domestic brands or any ideas that’s going on with the beauty related markets.
Understanding both Commerce and social channels. We can actually correlate those two data together and then deliver database solutions for those Beauty Brands in Korea and also in other countries.
I guess it really gives brands that use the system an edge because they have that data. It would take their teams way too long to be able to do it. Because like the China Market itself it’s so huge and it is really possible to track every single details like week with a brand managers is solved.
With the data itself, like that’s how we deliver the data and then prove I’m hoping to help brands to make data-based decisions in and then finding out the business opportunities behind them.
What beauty category do you see is an opportunity or a white space for International Brands coming into the China Market?
I’ve actually talked about this a few days ago with another session and I really think that right now there’s two very second vented market in China. Either consumers go really for luxurious products where they either go really for cost-effective products and then they will still look for what’s like what’s best for them?
What’s best for this skin type and all the details information. Right now what we see as in general is that we see a bigger growth in skincare market for Global International brand.
Rather than for the Chinese local brand, and we know that Perfect Diary, Forces, Colorkey a lot of very famous peers in cosmetic market for the local brand are very focused in colored makeup rather than the skincare makeup.
Right now premium market is really realizing such as Stilleto, Lancome, La Mer. They are a lot of those kind of luxurious brands have grown like 40% compared to 2019 versus 2020.
We think that in care, especially like skincare sets or essence, or emulsion that has gone really over like forty percent for the past few past years.
We’ve seen that these various subcategories will see a very high growth and potential for the International Brands.
Luxury, International, Essence three big areas. I think we are seeing some local Chinese domestic skincare brands that even some that are very old like Peichoin.
You’ve got ones that have become more popular recently. I guess the Chinese maybe we’re seeing some consumers embracing that they wouldn’t have before but it’s interesting how you segment the market like that and obviously China is big there are so many people and everyone has their preferences.
It’s an interesting area.
What about clean beauty? Clean beauty is something that I personally am very passionate about. I do see some change in consumers in China what they’re looking for in this.
From your data, what are you seeing in the Clean Beauty space?
Actually the Clean Beauty Market isn’t really a huge at the moment, but we see the potential in it because Chinese people Chinese local consumers, they also do talk about non hypoallergenic products and they want best for the environment also and they don’t want any harmful ingredients to affect their skin.
That’s why the Clean Beauty Market is slowly emerging in China like Xiaohongshu (little red book) or Weibo we don’t see tons of postings regarding Clean Beauty but we do see the curve in the number of postings that’s being talked about in social media.
That’s why we found out that this potentially will be growing in the market and a lot of people do talk about Drunk Elephant, Youth to the People, Farmacy and Korean brand Primera and etc.
These are three categories thAT most talked-about for Clean Beauty.
- special matte
- active categories.
Interesting, facial care, cleansing, masks and acne. I think sensitive skin is obviously a good trigger for people if they have issues with acne or sensitive skin, then they’re looking for something that won’t irritate right?
That’s definitely something that I’ve seen as well. I mean it’s good to see that it’s growing but I do agree. It’s still a small area. C-Beauty Brands are obviously as we’ve already mentioned they’re growing in popularity.
You talked about the ones that are most well known in the west are the color Cosmetics Brands like Perfect Diary.
In the skincare space what do you think is the strength of the Chinese Brands coming through?
In general, I feel like what Chinese Brands are doing very well is that they target very low price strategy make like those kind of middle and low and consumers.
That’s what they’re doing. Well, but also there are the quality self is going up. They are collaborating with Cosmetics one of the largest Automotive manufacturers to actually make feel like they are friends and their products are very very cost-effective.
Even though it’s a low price range but still the quality self is really really well. That’s how they are communicating with their consumers and they even do marketing themselves in that perspective also.
Well, I think that’s the most interesting part for me to see in the recent years because in the past I didn’t really see those kind of marketing keywords.
We are working with these kind of manufacturers that you can actually trust our products.
They’re very focused. They’re very marketing their products as a concept based on not as like trustworthy kind of concepts.
I think it goes both ways for C-beauty like they are talking about the concepts as well as they actually push their marks their marketing with it’s very trustworthy. It’s very safe non-harmful for your skin.
Many younger consumers or even elder people also do by those kind of C-beauty related products. And lastly, I think that they do have a lot of national pride. It gives you that sense of identity when purchasing the domestic goods, I think that’s lies behind the consumers minds that these brands and this is a beauty product.
Actually works really well for my skin Absolutely. That’s the catalyst isn’t it? That’s the reason that the brands have started to become more popular because of the patriotism but actually as you said the quality of the product has gone up.
I think it’s something that was shared by Lin Lin Measure China webinar that we did together about the amount of R&D that the brand the Chinese brand generally percentage of investment in R&D has very low traditionally compared to Western Group like L’Oreal but this is changing.
And as you said, like Perfect Diary with Cosmax but other brands with Cosmax as well, just that focus on the product because ultimately it’s quite a clever strategy you market your best heavily in marketing.
You really get a brand positioning a market leader for the ready at and people buy your products because they’re new and yes a lot of hype.
If you want to sustain that you absolutely have to have good product, You have to please so ideally you launch with it all at once.
But if you don’t do that, then you there now is exactly really need to focus, Also like we know that case too. Like the hospital dermatologist and they even sell it in offline hospital.
There is a hospital and a little section where you can actually buy our products. By cooperating with this kind of hospital that onthologist department it kind of gave a sense to consumer that all this product is really really recommended by the doctor and it’s very trustworthy.
I think they played really well in terms of one is R&D as you mentioned and also the marketing and distribution part as well.
And I think that’s actually an interesting one for International Brands because when you’re coming into a market may be in your homework, you do work with dermatologists or doctors, you have that tire but coming into a new market like China to create that you actually need to recreate that in the market.
Of course, some of your marketing can be okay might this doctor famous doctor in the US but actually to really connect with people you need to do it locally.
I think that’s something that brand struggle with and maybe at the moment there aren’t many partners that can really help them force those relationships, especially smaller brands that can be really tricky yet. Totally agree with that. Really really tricky.
What are some trends that would be helpful for International Brands coming into the market?
Because the level of consumers in China are gone up. They test this so many products from those price products to very luxurious products.
Right now like they have so many options to go with either a or either b and they don’t really care too much about life brand value brand loyalty.
What I see very interesting trend was very customized products for your own skin. That’s why sensitive skin care market is really really realizing the markets very vibrant. Of course is also has happened to the covid.
Because so many people are still wearing masks now in China on a daily basis, so skin gets irritated.
And also you have breakouts of wearing masks. I think about this sensitive market will go for next for the couple of years minimum one year to much longer than that and this is some similar trend that actually happened in Korea as well.
Because people are right now because of polluted air and things like that, like people skin gets really irritated due to pollution. People think about their skin is very sensitive.
They look for those kind of Dermatological Brands for a Cosmeceutical Brands and then we have this one shop called Olive Young in Korea and it’s kind of like a Sephora, those kind of shops, and then they have huge section for Dermatology Brands and consumers do purchase those kind of sensitive skin type product in that side.
I think that in general with high experience of consumers behavior, they will really look for the products that actually stood for themselves not just buying as in generally.
I think that’s the one we should try and start, we have to actually focus in next few years.
And also I want to mention about the scalp care now.
Yes scalp care too because right now not only the Cosmetic products for the facial products, but also consumer need in anti-aging is also rising. They say that if scalp gets saggy that your skin will also gets saggy.
There is no one saying in China that your scalp and your face is like a one skin. That’s the same that emerging in digital marketing China.
I think that consumers needs in anti-aging is really emerging in the market from 2019 to even now and there are many newly launched products based on those kind of anti aging benefits.
I think that these are two emerging trends that we want to mention in the interviewing with you.
Absolutely. I think customized beauty is something that even in the west is starting to take off now.
It’s been there for a while but it hasn’t maybe it worked. It’s been a bit gimmicky and now that’s changing.
What will be interesting with China is how that will actually work right but with cross-border, especially with so many types of brands that are doing customization would be cross-border.
How does that all those logistics, how does that whole process work?
Will be interesting but I agree that there’s definitely the demand there from consumers perspective. And also what one thing that’s interesting with the Chinese consumer is that they’re so well educated they read so much.
The ones that most of the brands were talking to are targeting they really need so much they research they know about ingredient. In fact, customization has a lot of legs are because they’re really interested in that in detail.
I mean one of the very surprising points for me was Chinese consumers were that eager to understand and learn such many ingredient in one particular item. That was really shocking point for me.
It’s like the whole show is kind of an educational platform where big one comes to micro one home.
They talk about even to normal consumers. They talk about many ingredients that are in one item and that wide and then if you are in this kind of skin type you have to avoid it and then you cannot use certain items during the day. That was really shocking part for me.
I think one thing is interesting. When I do the social listening for many of the brands that I’m working with is the way consumers talking about avoiding certain ingredients.
For example in pregnancy when people are pregnant, so they’re looking for sensitive products that are good for sensitive skin generally looking at clean products and the types of ingredients that they talk about.
You know fragrance is one that they really don’t want either and in the west although if you’re looking at clean skincare and you’re into it, you know fragrance is a problem.
But in China, it seems that quite a few people have had that realisation early on in their Clean Beauty discovery. That’s something that’s quite different.
It’s very interesting that people are really looking for what’s not in it. be
I guess ideally they’d keep using this skincare that they currently use so they want to search is this ingredient in this product?
Exactly. That’s something that is very interesting. I think customization has a lot of legs and but it will be interesting how brands tackle that in the China market.
Was there anything else that we sort of any other trends or anything else that you thought of that could talk about?
Of the interesting part was that right now because after covid, Covid really hit hard in China for the first quarter of last year and then China recovered really fast from March.
And starting in March like Alibaba whole very big huge promotion for woman’s day and then the e-commerce Market has really recovered so fast and during the first quarter of the lockdown like a lot of categories has consumers do purchase a lot on skin care products also for the mask, specially mask category, but right now the growth rate of these kind of skincare and facial mask categories are actually back to normal.
And then what interesting point was that people are very focusing on the base makeup right now. A lot of items related to base makeup are going up as in revenue wise such as very high coverage but yet very long lasting foundation and also makeup fixer or makeup powder loose powder or like the compact powder where it can actually gives a long-lasting effect.
This is also due to wearing mask , the make up rubs off and then it shows kind of scratch marks.
Actually those kind of makeup fixer category normally was rising only in summer time.
But right now it is rising in general. I think that ‘s interesting trend that we see.
The last two you mentioned, obviously the makeup fixers, last year we saw the recovery, but as you said it was really focused on skincare, now we’re coming back, it’s good to see that makeups coming through although its base makeup, maybe a little bit longer before lipstick.
Lipstick used to be such a huge category in China. Lipstick was the first makeup product that people bought It was huge. So that’s really big change and then actually going back to what you were talking about before about scalp care.
Hair care in general the market is becoming much more sophisticated from what I’ve seen.
Previously it was shampoo conditioner like very basic and then suddenly and of course it was Chinese consumers have quite a lot of issues when it comes to hair care so they have dandruff rates are quite high.
Just also the logistics of having black hair. You can see dandruff so much more easily.
And then of course the issue of hair loss which happens to people quite young generally in China.
I think there’s a lot of scope for Hair Care Brands coming in Innovative products. I mean I’ve mentioned about scalp care relating with anti-aging benefit, but actually people really do scalp care due to the hair loss.
Chinese consumers were doing scalp care because they don’t want to prevent further hair loss or right now the trend has been kind of emerging in the market, of course, you have to prevent for your hair loss.
But also while doing scalp care you can also make your face looks less saggy. It will make you look younger. Double benefits. Yes. I think I need to start some scalp care. That’s what I thought.
Hair dye market has been growing really a lot over the past few years.
I think the Hair Care Market will also turn into very segmented market. Just like the Cosmetics Market in China. I think this will be something very new and something that we have to really keep an eye on in the next few years.
Okay, great. I think there is so much in there for people to consider. There’s lots of interesting insights and trends. Thank you so much and also Holly thank you for talking to me on International women’s day and we were talking about how the recovery with China really took off from this time last year.
It’s good to be at least for China on the other side of the covid battle. Thank you so much.
And if anyone wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
They can always find me on Linkedin search for Holly Kim. I’ll get in touch with you guys.
Yes, I’ll put your LinkedIn link in the show notes. Good to have that. Sounds good. Alright,
Thank you so much, Holly. Thank you.