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April 2, 2024

Why Brands Fail in China and How to Succeed

Beauty and skincare brands are eyeing China's rapidly growing beauty market. With a large consumer base and significant growth potential, it's no wonder why brands are eager to make a mark in the market. However, achieving success in this market is easier said than done. In this blog, we'll explore why most brands need help and what they can do to succeed.

Cultural Differences:

One of the main reasons many beauty brands fail in China is cultural differences. Chinese consumers have unique beauty standards shaped by traditions and modern influences. Brands that need to understand these cultural differences may create products that Chinese consumers don't relate to.

Intense Competition:

Competition in the Chinese beauty market is fierce, with domestic and international brands fighting for attention. Domestic brands with deep cultural insights and agile marketing strategies pose formidable competition. Moreover, the number of brands makes it challenging for newcomers to stand out and carve a niche.

Regulatory Complexities:

Navigating China's complex regulatory landscape is a significant barrier for foreign and organic beauty brands. The country imposes strict regulations on cosmetics and clean beauty products, including registration requirements, testing procedures, and labelling standards. Following these rules requires a lot of money, time, and know-how, which stops many companies from joining or growing.


Successful entry into the Chinese market hinges on effective localisation, which is easier said than done. Brands must adapt their products, packaging, and messaging to resonate with Chinese consumers.

Digital Dominance:

If you're a beauty brand looking to successfully sell products online and provide a seamless shopping experience to your target audience, it's important to embrace social commerce in China. Social media platforms like WeChat, TMall, and Douyin are a few, but you'll need to deeply understand Chinese social commerce trends and influencer marketing strategies to succeed.

Brand Perception and Trust:

Establishing brand awareness and trust among Chinese consumers is another significant challenge for foreign beauty brands. Brands must spend resources and plan well to gain confidence in a tough market by matching Chinese consumers' skin types and beauty routines. 

By prioritising these areas, brands can effectively navigate and thrive in the competitive beauty industry. Facing challenges in China's beauty market will create opportunities and drive long-term growth and high performance. To enter China's lucrative beauty market, it is essential to research, adapt your strategies, and embrace the unique culture.

Case Study: L'Oréal's Success in the Chinese Beauty Market

International beauty brand L'Oréal is an excellent example of how understanding and adapting to the unique needs of Chinese consumers can lead to success in the competitive beauty industry. L'Oréal has invested heavily in research and innovation and developed products catering to the Chinese market. 

Research and Innovation Hub: L'Oréal's commitment to the Chinese market is evident through its research hub in the heart of Shanghai's Pudong district. This facility serves as a centre for gathering valuable insights into local preferences and skincare routines, allowing L'Oréal to stay at the forefront of trends and consumer demands.

Product Development: L'Oréal Luxe, a brand division, exemplifies L'Oréal's dedication to meeting the demands of Chinese consumers. Through extensive research and consumer feedback, L'Oréal Luxe has developed products like Lancôme's Énergie de Vie range, incorporating traditional Chinese medicine formulations to address specific skincare concerns.

Consumer Involvement: L'Oréal goes beyond traditional market research by actively involving Chinese consumers in its product development process. The company's R&I China team focuses on creating products that resonate with local preferences and address common skincare issues. For instance, research revealed that Chinese women prioritise hydration due to environmental factors, leading to the development of the Hydra Zen range, offering long-lasting hydration and protection against external aggressors.

L'Oréal has carved out a niche in the competitive Chinese beauty market by prioritising consumer insights, innovation, and localisation. This case study highlights the importance of understanding cultural nuances and consumer preferences when entering new markets. As brands seek to make their mark in China's beauty industry, they can learn valuable lessons from L'Oréal's strategic approach.

To learn more about social commerce opportunities in China, contact YASO, the experts in this field.