BEIJING: The decision of cosmetics manufacturer Revlon to leave the Chinese market has been attributed by a leading industry figure to a failed marketing strategy.

Earlier this week the company announced its intention to quit China after 37 years, with Asian revenues falling almost three times as fast as global sales.

Jason Yu, general manager of Kantar Worldpanel China, told China Daily that a lack of investment in brand building, in terms of marketing and advertising, had resulted in lower exposure of the Revlon brand to consumers.

And he contrasted that with the approach of rivals such as Procter & Gamble, L'Oréal and Unilever, which have spent heavily in both traditional and new media.

Another factor contributing to Revlon's difficulties was its apparent reluctance to invest in developing products for the local market.

"Only selling what is available in your home market in China is not good enough," said Yu. "You have to understand local consumers and make products here according to their needs."

For example, a Global TGI report, Beauty and the BRICs, observed that skin whitening care and anti-wrinkle creams were fast growing segments in China. And with the gradual ageing of the population, the latter was likely to grow even further, as seven out of ten Chinese women thought it "important to keep young looking".

Yu was also critical of Revlon's single distribution channel, which meant the brand was seen only at the makeup counters of large department stores. "Distribution channels rule the beauty and cosmetic market in China," he said. "Revlon is barely visible in channels such as supermarkets and online retailers."

Revlon's departure comes at a time when the beauty category is growing. Kantar Worldpanel China data show skincare sales up 9.4% in the past year, while make-up has grown 8.5%.

"Cosmetics are still an emerging industry, and it takes time to cultivate consumers' habits, as well as making the effort to go into lower-tier cities and quickly responding to local needs," Yu noted.

Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by Warc staff