According to research put forth by Forward, the global perfume market in 2017 consisted of only 1% Chinese consumers. Even though it would seem like a small number, the Chinese perfume market has been growing by more than 15% annually – a rate far higher than any other category in the beauty sector. The report also forecasts the sales volume of China’s perfume industry growing from 25.2 billion RMB (3.7 billion USD) to over 50 billion RMB (7.4 billion USD) by 2023. That is double the revenue in a span of under 7 years which is extremely impressive by all standards.
Foreign brands dominate in China, and the big beauty companies you’d expect to see are all leaders in the arena: LVMH, Chanel, Coty, L’Oréal, and Estée Lauder. Today, many Chinese consumers have since developed the habit of using perfumes and consider it an essential part of their daily routines. Let’s look at the market factors that are accelerating the growth of niche perfume brands in China.
Gen-Z Trend Preferences
When fragrances first started gaining popularity in China back in the 2000s, consumers were most attracted by the classics (Chanel’s No.5, Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Opium). But a few years ago, a different opinion started emerging from China’s younger, more discerning generation – Gen-Z. Fragrances by luxury brands were viewed as too pedestrian and common. Many young consumers referred to them as “街香” (which literally means “street scents”). The traditional marketing method for perfumes – beautiful, glossy ads and endorsements by A-list celebrities – also started coming across as passé to this consumer group.
According to industry experts like Allie Rooke (beauty consultant and the founder of Clean Beauty Asia), post-90s generations are driving the demand for niche names, and Gen-Z trends are shaping new perfume preferences. Furthermore, they are using it as a way to express their identities, and gender-nonspecific scents are particularly appealing.
Online platforms like Tmall and JD.com are key outlets for fragrances. Hermès Fragrance opened up recently, along with the launch of Gucci Beauty, featuring fragrances. Both of these were seen in 2021 itself. Cartier added itself to the category by offering names like Panthère and Carat.
Popular niche brands to drop on Tmall Global during the pandemic were Replica and L’Artisan Parfumeur. These two brands were backed up by social media, which was vital for their amplification. Baidu optimization is also essential for brands to improve their visibility.
Perfume KOLs and bloggers are on the rise too. Weibo’s top KOLs include names like Sunillusion, Initialscent, and The Perfume World of CC (CC的香水世界).
Home Fragrance Market
Home fragrance is booming in China. There are more home fragrance choices than ever before and the marketing strategies for perfume and fragrances has been very strong lately, with lots of celebrities and KOLs sharing their decor and candle purchases on Chinese social media. Not to mention The Chinese have burnt incense ever since the Han Dynasty.
Chinese luxury consumers only bought perfume and fragrance because of their brand names. These purchases were less about the scents and more about the status quo provided by the brands. But now, Gen-Z consumers want to know how to change their interior fragrances as part of their holistic luxury lifestyles, and this demand continues to grow thanks to social media platforms like Douyin. Find out more about how to leverage Douyin for your brand.
What To Infer
It is safe to say that Chinese consumers today no longer desire to smell like cookie-cutter bottles of designer perfume. Many of them are looking for something a little more personal and complex – be it in the form of their favourite tea, or the scent of freshly cut grass. They need variety to pick the right one that suits their needs. While it remains to be seen if this category will continue to grow exponentially as analysts say, it is certainly one to watch.