Beauty Trends Asia 2022
Get a bird’s eye view of the macro environment surrounding Asia’s beauty sector, and take a deep dive into consumers’ behaviour.
BEAUTY TRENDS IN ASIA 2022
Beauty trends in Asia 2022 Report
Beauty in Asia 2022: A story of resilient people, and a resilient sector
Asian consumers are known for being agile and adaptable in the face of change. Never has this been more vividly demonstrated than in the last year. Like much of the world, the APAC region has been under the influence of two major forces.
First, heavy inflation, which has diminished shoppers’ spending power. Second is the era of post-pandemic recovery, in which people are establishing new behaviours and priorities.
For the beauty sector, consumers did not give up their interest in grooming and self-care during the pandemic, for example, small indulgences helped to keep them positive through tough times. In addition, price increases resulting from inflation are expected to be lower for health and beauty products.
These factors have helped the beauty sector to sustain its strength: value growth remained stable at -0.1% between Q2 2021 and Q2 2022, while second quarter revenue for global cosmetic manufacturers exceeded experts’ estimates.
From mass players to luxury names, both local and international brands are responding by flexing and expanding their offers to deliver what Asian consumers want, while rolling out strategies to ensure their products remain affordable.
In this unique report, we take nine key markets across the APAC region – Mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam – looking at trends in the facial skincare, colour cosmetics, hair care and bodycare categories.
The macro trends influencing consumers – both economic and social – across Asia as a whole, and within the nine markets studied.
The diversity that exists in the region, with each market influenced to a different extent by the pressures of inflation and post-pandemic life.
How daily consumption of beauty categories has evolved – including the choices shoppers are making, what’s driving them, and the resulting shifts in category spend.
Why shoppers are trading up to premiumised offers, and the features and benefits they’re willing to pay more for.
Where growth is being driven from – and the categories and brands leading the way.
How manufacturers are innovating to respond to demands for personalisation, medical efficacy, sophistication and affordability – for instance by changing formats, promotions, communication and pricing.
In the report, we look at three key trends, through the lens of the specific markets in which they are particularly strong:
- Sophistication in affordable beauty
- Continuous premiumisation
- Resilient beauty
By providing key takeaways for each trend, we make our insights actionable and practical – helping you to apply them as a lever for growth in the APAC region. We sincerely hope that you find this report both fascinating and useful.
Macro Environment in Asia
Inflation vs the post covid recovery
Beauty doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The performances of Asia’s beauty markets are dependent on economic, social, and cultural changes that can drive or inhibit sales in different ways across the region.
In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market started to recover with the reopening. However, it remains a primary concerns for consumers.
Right now, the rising concern among consumers is centred on the war in Ukraine and its impact on the global economy.
The major global issues in 2022
Ukraine may be far from Asia, but the war has had an effect thanks to its global inflationary pressure on raw commodity materials such as wheat, palm oil, energy, and some packaging materials as well. These have had local consequences, forcing prices higher and changing people’s purchasing behaviour.
But the factors that affect the beauty sector are not all negative. The end of the pandemic in most markets has been a positive for many. People want to celebrate. Beauty, a key element in the joy of going out again, has been a beneficiary.
These two trends mean that the market is almost stable across the region, even if the winners and losers are much less evenly distributed. Kantar’s household panels across nine markets show a drop of just 0.1% in the total beauty market, when comparing value for quarter two in 2021 and 2022.
In this report, we analyse actual purchase data from more than 140,000 people across nine Asian markets, covering facial skin care, colour cosmetics, hair care and body care subcategories.
The nine Asian markets in this report are Mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand where we have panels covering female individuals and India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, where we have household panels covering all purchases.
Learning to live with inflation
It’s certainly true that the inflationary surge isn’t being felt as hard across Asia as it is in the US, EU or UK. The Inflation rate has gone as high as 9.6% in the EU and 9.1% in the US, compared to 7.7% in Thailand (the most inflationary market in our study) and just 2.5% in Mainland China.
Nevertheless, even if the economic impact of inflation has been smaller, the psychological impact has been significant, depending on local market familiarity with rapidly rising prices.
For some – such as the North Asian markets (Mainland China, South Korea and Taiwan) and Thailand – inflation is a relatively new phenomenon giving rise to more extreme behaviours, while most South-East Asian markets are familiar with the experience of rising prices and likely to be more adaptable in their purchase patterns.
The difference can be seen in South Korea, a market that has little experience of inflation, where consumers are seeking more economical options across the board. Changes in behaviour include choosing more affordable convenience store meals rather than visiting restaurants, using second-hand buying apps and seeking out discount offers.
By contrast, in Indonesia, where inflation has been a fact of life, the impact of the end of the pandemic is a bigger driver and consumers are keen to resume travel or celebrate with weddings now allowed, for example.
Finding the balance in every market
Between these two contradictory forces sits the consumer. Consumers often make selective investments in beauty and beyond. Some might want to save money by not spending on luxury products but instead focusing on their basic needs, while others minimise their daily spending in order to buy what they value once in a while.
In most markets, beauty benefits from the desire of consumers to treat themselves, even in hard times. Often dubbed the “lipstick effect”, this means consumers will continue to spend money on small indulgences during economic downturns.
Beauty also tends to be less impacted by inflationary pressure than other categories. In the UK, for example, we see bakery and dairy prices rising by 57% and 51% on average respectively, compared to 31% for prices across the Health and Beauty categories.
The resilience of beauty is reflected in the business results of the big four cosmetics companies, all of which have beaten Wall St estimates for Q2 2022. Estée Lauder Companies, for instance, has released its second quarter 2022 results, which ended December 31 2021, with net global sales up 14% year-over-year from $4.85 billion to $5.54 billion.
In seeking to identify the differing impacts of inflation and the post-pandemic recovery, we can group our nine markets into three key clusters:
Sophistication of affordable beauty Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam
Continuing Premiumization Mainland China and Taiwan
Resilient Beauty Indonesia, South Korea and India
You can’t take a region-wide approach
APAC is a complex region, where overall trends and growth statistics hide a multitude of diverse responses from consumers. Only by understanding the real behaviour on the ground in each market can brands make the right choices to ensure they find growth.
Two contradictory trends are driving hugely different responses with growth rates varying by 13 points between the most extreme markets in Q2 (Thailand and Vietnam are -5% while India is +8%).
In every market, whatever the level of inflation, the state of Covid restrictions and the response of the consumer, however, we see beauty proving to be more resilient than many other categories.
Beauty is a powerful category but brands will only benefit to the maximum if they understand the local nuances and different responses to the same macro signals.
Affordable sophistication is the new beauty basic
Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam
Affordable sophistication is the new beauty basic
It has weakened consumer spending power and resulted in steep price increases across the beauty category. Price and consumption sit in a ‘see-saw’ relationship with each other and we can see this clearly in these four markets, where the volume of beauty products purchased has decreased.
However, despite the need to manage their budgets, shoppers are not only looking to buy products that are cheap or commoditised. In fact, they have a healthy appetite to try out new formats, invest in premium products, and add steps to their grooming routines. This presents exciting opportunities for brands that can innovate and introduce new ideas while making their offerings affordable for consumers.
Prices increase and volume decreases under the impact of inflation
Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam
Premium hygiene and liquid wash become the new beauty staples
It’s a very different story for facial washes, facial cleansers, and hygiene care, which took on greater significance in consumers’ lives as awareness of the importance of sanitation rose. Shoppers are continuing to add these staple products to their baskets, even as prices climb.
Facial cleanser, for example, is one of the core categories within facial skincare, particularly in Malaysia and Vietnam where it accounts for more than 30% of total sector spending.
What’s more, these staple categories are developing. Not only do consumers want to keep buying them, but they are willing to pay premium prices.
Shoppers in these four markets have become more conscious of the ‘actual value’ of their beauty purchases – measured in terms of the experience it brings them or the benefits of using it, rather than in monetary value.
The evolution of consumer behaviour across total beauty
Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam
Shoppers venture into advanced formats
Consumers in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam are keen to try out new formats in facial skincare, such as toner, serum and sun protection. They explored diverse categories during the pandemic, as they spent more time at home, and many have either kept or continued to expand the new skincare routine they developed in recent years. Meanwhile, the popularity of ‘plain’ moisturisers, for example, has declined. Within body wash and facial cleansers, we can see consumers moving away from traditional bar soap towards more sophisticated liquid formats in a higher price tier, which offer additional medical benefits such as antibacterial ingredients that kill viruses and bacteria.
Brands are also evolving their products to meet this demand, creating premium versions by introducing new properties. This trend is coming from two directions:
- Beauty brands are launching skincare products that have medicinal properties.
- Hygiene brands are enhancing their products with benefits from the beauty world.
In Malaysia, Lux and Safi have both launched liquid washes with added antibacterial benefits, while traditional medical concept brands, including Dettol, have developed products with skincare ingredients that elevate them above their core hygienic function. Lifebuoy is another example of a brand which has launched products to address specialist skin concerns, such as body acne, with the ability to remove bacteria from the skin.
Lowering the entry barrier to purchase
Brands are encouraging consumers to trial new and different formats by finding a variety of ways to lower the entry barrier to purchase. Prestige and medical derma brands that sell at a higher price on average are offering promotional bundling to make themselves more attractive and affordable.To make their products more accessible, many brands are launching small package or sachet versions. This allows shoppers to explore and trial advanced formats such as serum, or sophisticated benefits such as brightening, at low cost and low risk. Facial skincare brands in Thailand and the Philippines have leveraged this strategy with particular success to lift shoppers’ spend per trip.
In Thailand, the initiative has driven up the average price per sachet by 10%, increasing the contribution of facial skincare in sachet formats to total category value in 2022.
In the Philippines, meanwhile, 38% of the total value of facial skincare now comes from products sold in sachet format, compared with 34% in 2021.
Giving shoppers a good reason to purchase plays an essential role in raising consumer demand for new categories, for example by providing online content that educates them on the usage occasions of new formats and properties. Done well, this can turn occasional usage into regular daily usage.
In Vietnam, educational campaigns run by beauty brands have increased awareness of the need to use suncare products every day, directly contributing to an 11% growth in category value. At the same time, they have influenced a 12% increase in the consumption of make-up remover, by highlighting the importance of two-step cleansing.
Mass brands step into the spotlight
Consumers’ minds are open to mass beauty brands, which are launching enhanced products that give shoppers with restricted budgets the opportunity to upgrade their beauty routines at a lower price point.
In Thailand, mass brands are meeting consumers’ demands for flawless and transparent skin with affordable serums – a category that was mainly owned by prestige brands – in advanced formats that address specific concerns such as dark spots or melasma. Local brands are driving the success of the serum category, in particular Jula Herb, which increased an impressive 225% in value during the past year, and Clear Nose, which rose 22% in value.
1. More sophisticated beauty routines
Despite their limited spending power, consumer demand for more sophisticated and advanced beauty routines is growing in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. We recommend that brands and manufacturers leverage this by developing enhanced offers that lower the barriers to trial.
2. Premiumised hygienic care
Brands that would like to increase their presence in these four markets could also win new buyers and increase spending by taking advantage of the interest in premiumised hygienic care, as the impacts of Covid-19 continue into the post-pandemic era.
3. Advanced formats in facial care
In the facial care categories, there is a golden opportunity for mass and masstige brands to meet shoppers’ needs as inflation bites – but they must remember that consumers are craving upgraded, advanced formats, rather than commoditised, volume-driven offerings.
Mainland China and Taiwan
Continuous premiumization Mainland China and Taiwan
Despite minimal inflationary pressure in Mainland China and Taiwan (3.6% in China and 2.5% in Taiwan), the rising concern of pandemics and the limited mobility constraints caused by the lockdown have meant that shoppers spent less on beauty products. As a result, value sales dropped by -5% in Taiwan and -1% in China for the year ended June 2022 compared to the previous year (year ended June 2021).
Volume sales decreases under pandemic impact
Mainland China and Taiwan
Colour cosmetics has seen some signs of a shift out of the category. Traditionally a major beauty purchase in mainland China and Taiwan, the ongoing requirement to wear masks and restricted opportunities to socialize has reduced the frequency of using make-up. There is clear evidence that some people have shifted their spending on colour cosmetics to other categories, such as high-efficacy facial skincare and haircare, where the effects of their efforts can be more visually appreciated during these times.
Total Beauty Consumer Behaviour Evolution
Mainland China and Taiwan
The emergence of Super premium facial skincare
Instead of applying makeup, spending more time and money on the maintenance and health of the skin is a trend that is likely to continue to gain momentum. This trend has already boosted sales in these categories and leading to further innovation by premium brands and the emergence of super premium facial products.
Increased innovation from beauty brands as they respond to the demand for more personalisation to meet shoppers’ individual needs and demands and to give them a reason to indulge is evident across facial skincare in both markets.
In Taiwan, where the desire for prestige beauty buys is a long-standing trend, brands are trying to capitalise on this by enticing shoppers to buy more. For example, Estee Lauder has been offering a larger volume of products to give shoppers better value for money for their shopping trips and prevent loyal brand buyers from lapsing out of the brand.
In Mainland China, some super prestige brands are adding science-based innovations such as anti-ageing to their mainstay ‘protect your skin’ messaging. These ‘super prestige’ offers to ensure that the prestige brands can continue to stand out among the growing number of mass market facial skincare brands dipping into the premium end of the market.
Helena Rubenstein has switched its best-selling serum, Power Cell Skinmunity the Youth Reinforcing Serum, to a cream that commands a far higher price and has evoked more prestige sentiments for consumers in China. Lancôme and Estee Lauder meanwhile are leveraging flagship shopping festivals, such as Double-Eleven Day, the biggest shopping day in the world, to display its super-prestige brands such as Lancôme Absolu and Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv.
Facial skincare is the “new lipstick” for shoppers
In Mainland China and Taiwan where mask-wearing is still mandatory in public spaces in 2022, it appears that some facial skincare categories are picked up by shoppers as the “new lipstick” to satisfy their desire for a little bit of luxury even while their daily lives are disrupted, and disposable income decreases.
Consumers with a limited budget are finding their ‘new lipstick’ fix by buying entry-level premium beauty items such as a toner or facial mask, or one of the trial sachets that are becoming a popular way for brands to entice shoppers to their premium offers as part of a low regimen beauty routine. In this way, they can enjoy a small indulgence and feel the warm glow that buying premium beauty products provides for two-thirds of the price of other prestige skincare products.
This collective effort of brands to entice consumers to upgrade their skincare routines as an act of indulgence and self-care, is helping keep the beauty market stable in both Taiwan and mainland China and has given premium beauty products overall a bigger slice of beauty sales. Both markets showed growth of two percentage points for the year ended July 2022 compared to the same period the previous year.
Another pillar of premiumisation is spotted in China’s mass market. This price tier has evolved to be more efficacy-driven as local Chinese brands re-position themselves to be as good as the professional brands, backed up with top-notch technology. They have moved away from natural cosmetics with hydration/moisturizing efficacy towards anti-ageing, solution-based treatments that people can use on their skin without concern.
Do it yourself premium haircare
Fewer trips to hair salons have led to greater demand for specialist hair products. In particular special care is being taken with shampoo that meets people’s individual needs such as minimising hair loss, providing volume or giving hair styling that they display on social profiles. These added benefits have become so highly desired that haircare products are now premium brands with pricing to match.
Schwarzkopf’s FibrePlus promises to give hair thicker roots and volume has seen sales volumes rise by 81%
Skinification of haircare
Further innovation in these markets has come from borrowing some of the well-known skincare ingredients or derma concepts to give higher efficacy to haircare products. For example, Aveda brings in exfoliation benefit of micellar water into shampoo. Also, customising by adding functional essence to the main regimen is spotted in haircare, which directly targets consumers with specific hair/scalp concerns.
In China, like other markets in Asia, people continue to pay more for those essential items that meet their demands for hygiene.
+81% | shampoo buyer base
+24% | Anti-hair fall shampoo buyer base
1. Acute impact of pandemic
Restricted mobility has contracted beauty sales in Mainland China and Taiwan, but this has been tempered with lower inflation than the rest of the world and a shift to premium beauty products, particularly facial skincare and haircare.
2. Communication-driven demand
There is a growing demand by expert consumers for clearer communication of the science or efficacy of their beauty products. As more shoppers in these markets indulge in beauty as an indulgence during dark times, they will look to premium or local masstige brands teasing their way into the growing premium segment to educate them on the efficacy of their products.
3. Facial skincare - the nuovo lipstick effect
Even shoppers with less budget who wouldn’t normally buy premium beauty brands are showing aspiration to do so and are stepping up to premium beauty products by making small purchases such as a facial mask, toner or even buying the new travel-size or trial sachets that are being displayed by more premium brands
South Korea, Indonesia and India
In South Korea and Indonesia, where inflation is greater than Mainland China, continued purchasing of beauty staples as well as premium offers highlights a strong resilience for beauty compared to other categories. Even with the higher pricing of brands that results from inflation, strong unit sales have ensured continued market growth.
In India, with where inflation has dropped since its peak at the start of the pandemic, prices continued to rise, but the affect was a slowdown of purchasing that has kept the market stable.
The impact of pandemic to the beauty markets
South Korea, India and Indonesia
Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all
Beauty staples such as face body moisturizers as well as facial cleansing products are driving growth in India, while selective investment influences the brand selection. Brands that claim to add brightness, fairness or natural ingredients are becoming premium purchases for Indians who are willing to pay more for products that improve the brightness and fairness of their skin. As a result, this segment has seen value sales grow by 36 percent.
On the other hand, body moisturizers are showing notable growth but the core growth drivers are local, mass market brands rather than premium offers.
India beauty category composition
Advanced skincare in Indonesia
Indonesia beauty category composition
Indonesia is a market with huge growth potential, thanks to its large population and the opportunity to increase average spend per buyer by addressing their specific beauty requirements and educating consumers.
More sophisticated beauty routines are influencing facial skincare purchases. Sun protection and serum products in particular are adding buyers to the category.
Innovative local Indonesian brands like Scarlett and Implora are adept at catering to these skin goals and others. Serums that address diverse skin conditions is growing the category and attracting more consumers to brands. Implora for example, with its Luminous Brightening Serum, has seen 132 percent value growth in the last year (to end q2, 2022).
These more sophisticated facial skincare purchases, which are being added to existing skincare routines, are helping to drive growth for the facial skincare segment.
South Korean Beauty queens
Many new and pioneering Korean beauty brands are succeeding at home and in other markets in Asia. They have overtaken Japanese brands as the most highly regarded and in demand products for Asian consumers.
Key to their success is commercial innovation. They are engaging with and delivering their products to consumers, with compelling brand propositions that leverage the symbiotic relationship between pop culture and beauty. As a result, all four categories are showing strong growth. This is for several reasons.
Your beauty is your ability
With products and marketing tailored to the diverse needs of Asian consumers, Korean consumers are opting for a more individualistic approach for their colour cosmetics. Beauty is very important in Korea and matters in everyday life and work as a reflection of their self.
With the widespread availability of make-up tutorials gaining pace and celebrity influencers showing consumers how to maximise under skintone and improve overall beauty, sophisticated Koreans are seeking broader colours and shades that are better for them.
They either choose the best-matching colours available, considering their hair and skin tone, or create their own shades by blending colours and playing with makeup.
So, eye shadow palettes in similar tones such as Daisique or liptints that allow consumers to control the colour intensity, such as the Natural Shine Lux triple lip cure balm and Peripera, are satisfying consumer demands.
24/7 Convenient and Advanced Care
Beauty is no longer something that happens at home at the beginning of the day. Consumers want to extend their beauty moments around the clock. With a focus on beautification of people’s personal space, brands are developing portable ‘to-go’ formats that enable consumers to extend their beauty moments around the clock.
Products such as sunstick-to-go and cushion foundations for touch ups at any time have been around for a while, but now advanced skincare options are providing on-the-go formats so that consumers can multi-layer advanced skincare anytime and anywhere.
With under eye and wrinkle creams that are blasting out commercials that show relatable occasions and demonstrate the benefits of multi-layering, there has been a 557 percent increase in volume sales. Facial mist is another part of the multi-layering trend and sales of these products have grown by 12 percent in the last year (MAT Q2, 2022).
The need for ease is transferring into haircare as well, especially in shampoo where hair colouring can now be part of the regular hair wash. Likewise, the application of intensive conditioning ampoules are now much simpler to use in new spray formats which eliminate the need to wash their hands after application of oil-based ampules.
In the last two years, scent has become a key buying factor for body care products as consumers seek to leverage their scent as an extension of their personal selves and mood.
Many luxury beauty brands are also enhancing their lines to body care. And some beauty brands are expanding their products into home care. Diptyque, for example, has launched a home care line of detergent, dishwasher and treatment milk for leather care. Beauty is no longer for just the person but for the space around them.
1. Sophisticated care of oneself
South Korea is a pioneering market in Asia beauty. Koreans are expanding their skincare regimes and extending their beauty regime throughout the day and in the space around them. Brands that accommodate convenience-oriented and me-centric use of their products are more able to support premium pricing
2. Indonesia is the third biggest market in Asia
With more awareness of skincare and beauty amongst Indonesian consumers, brands can be more active in helping them to enhance their skincare regimes. The third biggest market in Asia, Indonesia presents a big growth opportunity for those brands that can provide localized products and communications, following the lead of Korean brand leaders.
3. Fairness and brightness is gaining momentum in India
South Korean beauty products are driving a premium price with consumers across Asia Their perceived innovation with products that are tailored to specific market needs and symbiotic relationship with popular culture, these brands are gaining huge momentum in markets like India.
We help you understand beauty markets better
Beauty insights, powered by the real purchase data
Kantar's purchase panels track what people buy, where they buy, and their usage of beauty products. In Asia, we provide purchase tracker data covering the colour cosmetics, facial skin care, hair care, and body care categories. Our insights are powered by dedicated beauty and female panels in four major markets – Mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand – and our household panels in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Our understanding of the complex beauty market will help you stay ahead of category trends to drive sustainable growth. We can help you answer critical questions, such as:
• How can I convert purchase intention to actual purchase of my brand?
• How is the rising interest in health and wellness influencing the beauty category?
• How do I engage better with online retailers?
• How are global beauty consumers reacting to inflationary pressure?
• How can I expand my brand’s presence in new markets?
By studying shoppers’ purchasing data, we can provide valuable insights into areas such as:
Our experts will partner with you to get under the skin of the consumer trends driving value in the market. This will enable you to spot the best innovation opportunities, accurately quantify them, tailor your communications and marketing, and be seen as a true leader in your categories.