A strong growth of Prestige Beauty E-Commerce Sales in China


One example of Covid-19’s positive impacts ? The recent 47% increase in Prestige Beauty E-commerce Sales in China during the first semester of 2021 (January – June).

Prestige Beauty includes high-end fragrances, skincare products, and cosmetics that cannot be found in regular drugstores. According to the American Market Research group NPD, “China prestige beauty e-commerce sales reached $5.4 billion through the first half of 2021 […] a 47% increase over the same time period last year”[1].

Chinese beauty KOL livestream

What have been the strategies of Chinese cosmetics e-commerce sellers for such an increase ?

Since the start of Covid-19, Chinese manufacturers and retailers have adapted to continue selling their products despite the distance from their consumers. They have developed their digital strategies to be more flexible and efficient during this time of global pandemic.

The use of livestreaming and short videos has become increasingly popular in China. Chinese KOLs, “Key Opinion Leaders”, have had a strong influence on purchasing decisions for the past years and the phenomenon kept getting stronger during lockdowns.

In the beauty industry in China, some popular KOLs are :

Austin Li Jiaqi 李佳琦 who is the n°1 KOL in China. He often does livestreams for luxury beauty brands like Dior Beauty, Estée Lauder and YSL Beauty.

Doudou_Babe 豆豆_Babe is a beauty KOL that works with Lancôme, Chanel Beauty, Charlotte Tilbury and YSL Beauty.

Ximen 是西大嫂 is a top WeChat KOL with a strong presence on Weibo. She mainly works with Tom Ford Beauty, Guerlain, Dior Beauty and Estée Lauder.

The other famous ones are Late Night Teacher Xu 深夜徐老师, Cherie 雪梨, Wei Ya viyaaa 薇娅viya, MK凉凉, Xiaoxing Ryan毛小星Ryan Mao, Ye-Wu Miao 喵爷-吴淼 Miao and Xiaozhujiejiezz 小猪姐姐zz.


China Bilibili logo

One of the most popular livestreaming platforms in 2021 for sharing cosmetics video content is Bilibili.com.

While the site has been known primarily for content around ACGs (anime, comics, and games), it has recently shifted its focus to cosmetics, a category that is increasingly popular with its 81% majority community on the platform: millennials and Gen Zers.

Bilibili.com has truly become “one of the biggest mainstream beauty marketing platforms by featuring vloggers’ makeup tutorials, cosmetics testing, unboxing videos, daily makeup tips, popular makeup copies, and more”[3].

Beauty brands now have the biggest brand presence on Bilibili.com.

Chinese beauty skincare cosmetics

Which beauty segments of prestige Beauty have been popular online ?

Hair with 84% increase and Skincare with 50% increase top the list. These two categories are followed by the 48% growth of e-commerce sales for Fragrances and 34% for Makeup [1].

Skincare has dominated the cosmetics market in China for the past few years, and at the beginning of 2021, it has particularly seen an increase in sales for the categories “Sets & Kits” (60% of revenue) and “Face” (51% of revenue).

Most surprising was also the 107% increase in online sales of sun care products.

Compared to the year 2020 where the anti-covid protection rules were stronger with strict mask wearing and several lockdowns, the year 2021 has started to see some easing of these rules. As a result, online makeup sales have also picked up strongly this year with over $528 million in e-commerce sales, especially for the most popular category of “Total Face Makeup”.

China Shiseido KOL cosmetics livestream

What are the most popular cosmetic brands online in China?

The recent increase of online Prestige Beauty sales in China shows the growing interest of the Chinese people in luxury cosmetic brands over the past few years compared to drugstore cosmetics.

On the Bilibili.com platform, for example, brands that have been gaining popularity in recent times are Estée Lauder, Chanel Beauty, Lancôme, and Shiseido. These luxury brands are carrying out numerous marketing campaigns towards millennials and Gen Zers. They are using KOLs who are well known and appreciated by the young audience to promote their products through livestreams.

Product testing, product seeding, and makeup tutorials are the 3 most popular and effective video formats online. They are dynamic, entertaining, inspiring, and fun, which is appealing to the young community.

The cosmetics industry in China is not about to experience a decline anytime soon! With its new consumers, its future is well assured.

Want to know more about Beauty news and trends in China ? Follow Panda Meetings on socials medias !

Sources :

[1] The NPD Group, “China Prestige Beauty E-commerce Sales Increased 47% to $5.4 Billion in the First Half of 2021, Reports The NPD Group”, August 24, 2021.

[2] Premium Beauty News, “China prestige beauty e-commerce sales increased 47% in the first half of 2021”, August 30, 2021.

[3] Jing Daily, “Why Bilibili Is the New Beauty Battlefield for Chinese Gen Zers”, August 25, 2021.