Chinese consumers may be falling out of love with Korean beauty products, as local brands and Japanese products make in-roads into the sector.

Until recently, South Korea’s so-called K-beauty products were the go-to brands for top quality skincare in a market forecast to be worth some $62bn by 2020, the South China Morning Post noted.

But the rate of growth of exports of South Korean cosmetics to China has slowed dramatically, rising just 20% to $1.3bn in the first nine months of 2018 – a far cry from the annual growth of 66% over the previous five years.

Meanwhile, home-grown brands such as Pechoin, with its use of traditional Chinese herbal ingredients, are on the rise, according to analysts. In fact, Pechoin was ranked China’s most used skincare and make-up brand last year by research consultancy Kantar.

Data from research firm Gartner L2 indicates that 72% of Chinese beauty brands incorporated the tag “Made in China” into their profiles on online retailer Tmall last year, up 50% from 2017. The reason, says Gartner, is a growing sense of cultural pride among Chinese consumers.

And research carried out by Kantar and Tencent Holdings suggests 2019 could be the breakout year for Chinese beauty products: brands are “climbing the value chain, moving from producing low-cost items to high-end goods. Because of this, they’re now seeing their client base increasingly overlap with those of international luxury beauty brands.”

That survey, reported by Jing Daily, found that three out of four Chinese consumers had bought Chinese beauty products in the past six months, and for 50% of these consumers this was their first time buying a “C-beauty” product.

It’s not just bigger brands, either, that are finding their market share growing. There is increasing appetite from consumers to try smaller, niche brands. According to China Insight Report, The New Face of Beauty in China, produced by Reuter Intelligence, 60% of consumers in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are “very curious” about trying small, specialised beauty brands, such as Diptyque, Jo Malone, AHAVA and BABOR.

And if none of these products work, there are always more drastic measures. Chinese consumers, like those elsewhere, are increasingly willing to resort to cosmetic surgery: domestic market is valued at $7.1 billion, with the number of new clinics opening in 2018 up by 10% on the previous year.

And, worryingly for many, clients are getting younger. The same report found that of the 22 million Chinese who went under the knife last year, those under the age of 28 made up 54% of the total. The reason for the trend, experts say, is the pressure of social media selfies.

Sourced from South China Morning Post, Jing Daily, Quartz; additional content by WARC staff