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How Covid-19 has redefined Asia’s beauty market

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed Asia’s beauty market, with e-commerce now a key factor for brands to rebound, according to consultancy Kantar.

Before Covid-19 hit, the beauty market was forecast to grow in some Asian countries, including China and South Korea by 9 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively. However, like other industries, the beauty market has suffered from the impact of the pandemic.

Kantar divided Asia’s beauty market into three stages – growth categories, those in a U-shaped recovery and those in an L-shaped recovery.

Growth categories are sectors that are actually doing better than before the pandemic, including body wash, hand wash and sanitiser. A U-shaped recovery can be seen in skincare and haircare sectors, which have rebounded relatively quickly after experiencing a steep fall when the pandemic started. Makeup has become the sector struggling the most, and will take longer to rebound than others.

The pandemic has also changed customers’ expectations of beauty products. People are more likely to buy from brands that help them feel better and live better, rather than just look better.

“Consumers want personal care products to be highly effective, and offer more sophisticated functions,” said Ashley Kang, head of beauty at Kantar Worldpanel. “Already gaining in popularity before the outbreak, derma-care products have gained further traction, and the trend is spilling over from skincare into body care and make-up.”

According to Kang, the leading country for derma is South Korea, with 56-per-cent penetration.

In addition, customers are also paying more attention to products’ value and pricing.

Lockdowns and social distancing during the pandemic forced many beauty brands to shift its focus online to meet customers’ demand. Markets where beauty is one of fastest-growing categories in e-commerce include South Korea, China and Taiwan. However, in some Asian countries, brick-and-mortar stores remain dominant. In Thailand, offline traffic is still 19 times higher than online traffic.

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