Are Chinese Women Going to Fall in Love with Perfumes? [2022]

While many Chinese are great amateurs of French film, particularly the ones about love, it is still up to debate whether their admiration extends to the fragrances involved in the seduction dance playing on the screen. For a long time, perfume was considered a way to hide the wrong body smell. With the success of the French lifestyle and the development of niche fragrances, perfume is entering the house of Chinese women. In this article, we will explore the state of the perfume market. Is China ready to adopt perfume as part of its daily lives?

Perfumery was the “Poor Little Sister of Luxury Industry”

With annual growth between 8% to 12% in recent years, perfume professionals are not really in a bad shape. Yet this is the industry segment experiencing a much slower growth rate than the rest of the luxury industry. Chinese consumers are conscious of the importance of licenses and franchises in the perfume industry. Luxury brands often sell their brand name to other companies to produce their fragrance. This is why luxury brands’ fragrances are now considered by Chinese women as “商业香” which means “commercial perfumes”.

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On the other side, Chinese women are now more attracted by “沙龙香” which means “salon perfumes”. They blamed commercial perfumes and luxury perfumes to be “the scents of the streets” because a high number of people were wearing them. They wanted to be different, and perfume was the key to showing their own personality.

The Success of French Niche Perfumes

In France, perfumery is an industry that has been around for centuries. If the concept has not remained confined within our borders, it has not yet come as far as conquering the world. Some countries like China have never had this culture for this kind of refinement. But ignorance is not the only enemy of the perfume behind the Great Wall.

Indeed, perfumes, if not overpriced are quite pricy merchandise. And the average salary in China is only around 500 euros per month. It is affordable but the product is branded as an entry-level luxury that is not well understood yet. So Chinese women often prefer more visible items such as handbags, shoes, clothes, or even jewelry.

It is estimated that Chinese women are between 25 and 30 years old at the time of their first purchase, which is much later in life than their western counterparts who buy their first bottle of perfume during their teenage years. Also, the Chinese purchase less, with a maximum of usually 2 bottles, limiting the average profit per customer.

In 2022, the Chinese fragrance consumers are no more than 20 million, but the consumer unit price (CUP) is mainly concentrated on 500-800 RMB, which is higher than other main fragrance markets in the world. The reason behind this is mainly the strong development of niche fragrances brands: Diptyque, Atelier Cologne, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, etc. Low market concentration and high UCP are the main strengths of the Chinese fragrance market potential.

… Can Still Grow Up, a Lot

China has never had the opportunity to cultivate a perfumery tradition. Nonexistent during the imperial era, it was banished after the revolution as a symbol of Western decadence. And it was only with the opening of the country in recent decades that the product was introduced.

The challenge for professionals is to pass through the discovery phase and find a place for the product in the habits and rituals of the Chinese. Such educational campaigns of the population to new products are something that has been successfully conducted by the wine industry for instance.

How to Market your Fragrance Brand in China?

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1. Increase your Brand Awareness with Little Red Book

Little Red Book or Xiaohongshu is the key social media for women’s fragrances. In 2022, over 80% of RED users are women. They love to share their daily life, post-shopping notes and discover new brands from regular users or influencers. The platform is enabling “shopping notes” which are related posts with pictures and feedback on a specific product or brand. The more shopping notes you have when you launch your brand in China, the more successful you will be. 

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2. Share your Unique Storytelling with E-Reputation

The main challenge you will face with Chinese consumers is trust. Before purchasing a new brand, they will always search on Baidu to read more about your brand but mainly about… what people say about your brand. Both magazines and forums are a key component of the Chinese women’s consumer journey before purchasing a perfume. If you want to increase your level of trust, you need to get some press releases in Chinese magazines and generate discussions about your products on Chinese blogs and forums. 

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3. Collect the Reviews on NoseTime

In China, perfume consumers will always check the website NoseTime. This is a Chinese website dedicated to fragrance reviews. We can compare it to the Wikipedia of fragrance. You will find all the perfumes with a complete presentation, a 5-star ranking, and comments from past consumers. In brief, the higher your star note is on NoseTime, the better your brand reputation will be in China.

4. Find the right partner

Entering the Chinese market is never an easy task. Chinese women love international brands but they are reluctant to be the first ones to try a new brand, this is why they will always rely on shopping notes, consumer reviews, and brand recognition. Finding the right partner to make a correct market entry is key. Over the past 10 years, we worked with several fragrance brands such as Guerlain, Armani, and Gisada.

So to enter the market it is advisable to focus on educational campaigns, for now, less abstract than those that can be seen in the West they tend to work better. Note also that as new consumers, the Chinese are reluctant to wear strong fragrances. So at the moment, the lighter the better.

If you want to know if your fragrance brand is a good fit for China, you can contact us

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3 Comments

  1. I heard that Chinese consumers were not very used to perfumes, but the trend is changing as the Western influence is getting bigger! There is now a very promising market regarding perfumes in China.

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