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Your Guide to East Asian Beauty Priorities in 2023


Beauty trends and consumer priorities vary greatly across different cultures and regions. 

Understanding these nuances is crucial for businesses looking to tap into global markets and cater to the diverse needs and preferences of consumers. 

This article delves into the beauty profiles of consumers in Japan, China, and South Korea, highlighting their unique characteristics, popular trends, and projected future directions. 

Table of Contents
The East Asian beauty market
China: beauty profile
Japan: beauty profile
South Korea: beauty profile
Understanding East Asian beauty

The East Asian beauty market 

Nude and pink tone makeup palette with multiple makeup brushes

The East Asian beauty market is a force to be reckoned with. With the Asia Pacific region alone worth 117.2 billion, the industry shows no signs of slowing down, boasting an annual growth rate of 9.3%.

China, Japan, and South Korea remain the largest players in the market, with China worth 59.1 billion at a 5.4% growth rate, Japan worth 40.6 billion at a 2.8% growth rate, and South Korea worth 12.6 billion at a 2.6% growth rate. 

Despite the region experiencing a recession, beauty spending remains optimistic, with East Asians continuing to prioritize health and efficacy. 

However, one trend that sets East Asian beauty apart is the tendency to shy away from pro-aging narratives, with youthfulness being highly valued. 

As such, companies looking to enter this market should focus on products that emphasize health, efficacy, and youthfulness to meet the unique beauty priorities of the East Asian consumer.

China: beauty profile

A Chinese woman in traditional clothing with a red background

When it comes to beauty, consumers in China have a unique profile. They are adventurous and love to discover new things, whether a niche brand or a new product from a well-known company. 

They are not afraid to experiment with bold, glittery, and expressive looks, making them an exciting market for cosmetics companies.

With the end of lockdowns and travel restrictions, shoppers in China are eager to spend and are on the lookout for unexpected and personalized customer service experiences. 

They are also drawn to great deals and look for newness in their beauty routine. 

Beauty personas include: 

  • The skinics 
  • The skintentionals
  • The techsperts
  • The chameleons 

China: beauty priorities and strategies

A woman laying her head down on a desk with a woven fan

Chinese consumers are always looking for new and exciting beauty products, especially those that are unique and innovative

They value beauty products that cater to their fast-paced lifestyle, and travel essentials that help maintain a perfect appearance in any setting are becoming more popular. 

To cater to this market, businesses can offer products that are travel-friendly and offer quick and easy applications.

In addition, 71% of Chinese consumers dislike using the same products repeatedly, indicating a desire for variety and experimentation. 

Therefore, beauty brands should focus on offering a wide range of products that cater to different skin types and concerns. Consumers are also looking for science-backed solutions that target anti-aging and prefer non-invasive, natural options. Businesses can leverage this by offering products that use natural ingredients with proven scientific research.

Finally, Chinese consumers increasingly seek products highlighting hyperspecific or unconventional aspects of local culture rather than cliches. Brands can use this trend by highlighting local ingredients, traditional beauty practices, and unique cultural aspects in their products. 

Social media and influencer marketing can also be effective tools for building brand awareness and engagement with this audience.

With China’s growing economy and consumer base, the beauty industry is projected to continue to grow, particularly in the areas of skincare and anti-aging

Businesses can stay ahead of the curve by focusing on personalized, science-backed, and culturally relevant products that cater to the ever-evolving needs and preferences of Chinese consumers.

Japan: beauty profile

A Japanese woman wearing traditional clothing holding an umbrella

In Japan, the beauty profile of consumers is heavily influenced by the culture of efficiency and practicality.

Consumers are looking for products that offer multiple benefits at an affordable price, without compromising on quality. They prefer simplicity in their beauty routines, which should be easy to follow and incorporate into their daily lives.

Japanese consumers are also known for their attention to detail and high standards for quality. They prioritize products that are effective and safe for their skin and are willing to invest in higher-end brands if they meet their expectations. 

However, they are also cautious with their spending and will likely research products extensively before purchasing.

Overall, the beauty profile of Japanese consumers is focused on practicality, quality, and affordability. While they may be budget-conscious, they are still willing to invest in products that meet their needs and expectations.

Beauty personas include: 

  • Flex-abilities 
  • Layered realities 
  • Resource ready 
  • Preservation mode

Japan: beauty priorities and strategies 

A woman with minimalistic makeup stretching her arms

In addition to practicality, Japanese consumers prioritize inclusivity and diversity in their beauty choices. 

The rise of genderless terms and marketing campaigns is a testament to the changing attitudes toward gender and beauty. The rate of genderless terms increased by 109% from 2021, reflecting a growing interest in gender-neutral products that can be used by all.

At the same time, Japanese consumers are also highly influenced by popular trends and awards in the beauty industry. 

The search for “best cosmetics award” increased 1.2 times from 2021, showing that consumers seek highly rated and recognized products.

In terms of aesthetics, Japanese beauty trends reflect the minimalist and natural approach, with sudden pops of color for a playful touch. 

Consumers are looking for simple and easy-to-use products and services that can help reduce stress and improve their daily routines. 

Overall, the beauty priorities and trends in Japan reflect a desire for inclusivity and practicality.

South Korea: beauty profile

Two teenage girls in traditional Korean clothing

In South Korea, the beauty profile of consumers is characterized by a strong focus on health, performance, and sustainability. 

Consumers are eager to try new products and trends but are also practical and value-driven in their purchasing decisions. They are particularly interested in products that are performance-led, vegan, and eco-friendly, reflecting a growing concern for the environment and animal welfare.

South Korean consumers are also known for their extensive research before purchasing a product, with a strong emphasis on ingredients and certifications. 

They prioritize health beyond just skincare and are interested in products that cater to intimate care, hair care, and body care.

In terms of aesthetics, South Korean beauty trends continue to prioritize a natural and dewy look, with an emphasis on skincare rather than makeup.

 Consumers are also interested in innovative products and techniques, such as sheet masks, essences, and multi-step routines.

Overall, the beauty profile of South Korean consumers is characterized by a strong interest in health, performance, and sustainability, with a focus on natural and innovative products that are well-researched and informed by certifications.

Beauty personas include: 

  • Skintentionals
  • ReGen 
  • The preservationist 
  • The chameleon 

South Korea: beauty and strategies 

A women applying pink lipstick wearing a tan shirt

South Korean consumers are increasingly looking for products that are tailored to their specific needs and lifestyles.

For example, a growing demand for sports-proof solutions that can withstand sweat and movement without compromising skincare benefits. Consumers are also highly influenced by culture and art, particularly among the Gen Z demographic, who are interested in unique and personalized products that reflect their individuality.

In terms of popular products, sheet masks, essences, and multi-step routines continue to dominate the market, along with innovations such as cushion compacts and sunscreen powders. In addition, there is a growing interest in clean beauty, with consumers seeking out products that are free from harmful chemicals and are sustainably sourced.

It is projected that there will be an increased interest in personalized and AI-driven skincare solutions, as well as a continued emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendliness.

To gain the attention of South Korean consumers, businesses can focus on creating innovative and unique products that cater to specific needs, while also prioritizing sustainability and ethical practices

Collaborations with popular cultural figures and artists can also help to drive consumer interest and engagement.

Finally, businesses should prioritize clear and informative labeling, as well as providing detailed ingredient information, to cater to the well-informed and research-driven South Korean consumer.

Understanding East Asian beauty

A man applying skincare using a beauty brush

The beauty profiles of consumers in Japan, South Korea, and China reflect their unique cultural values and preferences. 

While Japanese consumers prioritize practicality, inclusivity, and minimalism, South Korean consumers are interested in performance-led, sustainable, and innovative products, and Chinese consumers prioritize youthfulness, luxury, and exclusivity. 

All three markets are well-informed and research-driven, with a strong emphasis on health and wellness. 

As global interest in Asian beauty continues to rise, businesses must be able to understand and cater to the specific needs and priorities of these consumers. 

By focusing on innovation, sustainability, and cultural relevance, businesses can successfully tap into these markets and gain the loyalty and trust of these discerning and savvy consumers.

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