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Beneath the Makeup, Online Cosmetic Shoppers in China are Young and Affluent
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Beneath the Makeup, Online Cosmetic Shoppers in China are Young and Affluent

When it comes to online shopping for cosmetics, Chinese consumers take their time and cover all the bases before they make their purchases. And in addition to spending hours looking for the right products and deals, their paths to purchase often include actively engaging and interacting with brands and online communities before they open their wallets.

While consumers shop for cosmetics year-round, Singles’ Day is a particularly busy day when it comes to looking and feeling good in China. So in light of the significance of this annual one-day shopping event, Nielsen and ComRatings jointly released findings about how consumers shopped for cosmetics on the most recent celebration for singles—Nov. 11, 2013.

Young and Affluent Women Are Key Online Buyers for Cosmetics

According to the findings, the majority of online buyers for cosmetic products are generally young and affluent. Specifically, 83 percent of online cosmetic shoppers are between the ages of 20 and 39. Of those, 93 percent are female.

More than half of the (53%) the online cosmetic shoppers claimed they have a salary between 5000 and 8000 yuan per month, followed by those with a salary beyond 8000 yuan per month (30%). Ninety-three percent of online shoppers aged between 20 and 29 and 94 percent of respondents aged between 30 and 39 currently earn over 5000 yuan monthly.

“There is great potential for cosmetics manufacturers and retailers to expand their business, as online cosmetics shoppers are comparatively more affluent and younger, with strong purchase power and a desire for a better and higher quality life,” said Steven Li, managing director of CR-Nielsen.

Consumers Use Several Touchpoints When Shopping Online

While shopping sites were busiest on Nov. 11, Nielsen research shows how consumers’ shopping journeys involved many touchpoints before check-out. Those touchpoints included search engines, pre-purchase sites and media sites, all of which represent opportunities for retailers and brands to influence the shoppers’ final choice.

According to the findings, 96 percent of online cosmetic shoppers measured visited shopping sites, and 91 percent logged on to knowledge and education sites, best represented by search engines and media sites to help them make a purchase decision.

Based on observed browsing behavior, Nielsen information shows that 60 percent of online shoppers also turned to social networking sites such as online blogs and Weibo, for advice and recommendations in terms of what to buy, or to engage with the manufacturers for benefits and promotional activities.

Other touchpoints includes pre-purchase and browsing sites—for comparison pricing and rebate sites such as etao and dianping—before online shoppers ultimately finished at personal admin sites like Alipay or Unionpay to complete their purchases. Nielsen’s information shows that nearly half of the online cosmetic shoppers (48%) logged on to pre-purchase sites for a good deals, and around 75 percent of the online shoppers ultimately purchased online.

According to Nielsen research, Weibo remains the most valuable social media site for both manufacturers and retailers with regard to resonating and engaging with potential online shoppers and assisting in their shopping process. On Nov. 11 specifically, approximately one-fourth (24%) of PC-based online shoppers studied turned to Sina Weibo, with an average time spent of 85.5 minutes per person, followed by Qzone, a social networking site under Tencent and Douban, a social community for the experience sharing and communication of social life.

Facial Masks are Most-Favored Sub-Category

Within the cosmetics category, Nielsen information shows the facial mask category is the most popular with 92 percent of online shoppers putting it into their shopping cart, followed by moisturizer (56%), facial cleanser (53%), eye cream (52%) and lip care (33%).

Facial masks have experienced strong growth this year both online and offline. Offline, the annual total sales of facial masks from October 2012 to September 2013 reached 5 billion yuan, with a year-on-year growth rate of 32 percent.

Moisturizer tops the list in terms of the average spending of 255 yuan, followed closely by eye creams with 250 yuan. A mix of products and pipeline focused on middle-and-low prices are likely to attract more online shoppers especially during shopping-spree days when generally speaking consumers are price-sensitive.