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Beauty Economy in China: What is it about?

The influencer is one of the most fruitful jobs in China today, but in what field does it operate? That’s the beauty economy, recently one of the most influential economic phenomena.

In the contemporary imaginary, China does not only represent a world rich in traditions and with a thousand-year history, but an avant-garde environment thanks to continuous technological and economic progress. It is not uncommon to come upon multiple articles on the most popular brands and corporate earnings that distinguish the country in the global scenario. Especially in recent years, such large and infamous income slices in the Chinese economy result from the figure of the influencer called wanghongren 网红人, or more recently KOL (Key Opinion Leader), dedicated to the sale of products of beauty on their social pages.

It’s the reflection of an economic phenomenon of huge international influence, which takes the name of meinü jingji 美女经济 in Chinese; globally known as the “beauty economy”. Despite seeing considerable gain and popularity in digital spaces, it extends into various areas of commerce. The so-called “economy of beauty” is increasingly omnipresent and describes everything from beauty contests to advertising, cosmetics and cosmetic surgery, tourism, TV and cinema.

HOW WAS THE BEAUTY ECONOMY PHENOMENON BORN?

Deng Xiaoping’s economic liberalization in the early 1980s marked the beginning of profound changes in Chinese society. For example, in the Maoist period (1949 – 1979) wear and hairstyles, especially for women, were limited to an androgynous style inspired by revolutionary uniforms. This rigidity was set aside during the Dengist period to let grow the desire of Chinese citizens to express themselves as much as possible.

The beauty economy thus found fertile ground, especially regarding products related to the female world. However, today’s beauty trends have extended to young Chinese boys, evenly interested in improving their appearance with particular products. That is because advertising discourse describes looking good as necessary and an advantage to finding work or getting married. One’s appearances have therefore become a precious asset in a country where people rely on their photo in the foreground on their CV. Thus investment in beauty is essential. Terms such as yanzhi jingji 颜值经济, or “beauty value”, perfectly embody the current economic value and competitive advantage of one’s physical appearance.

magazine in China

FROM MAGAZINES TO SOCIAL MEDIA

Initially, the beauty economy began to develop thanks to the introduction of Western fashion magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan and the proliferation of advertising and television programs related to beauty. Thanks to digital development, today Internet has become the main space in which this economic phenomenon is expanding more and more.

INFLUENCER IN CHINA

Initially, the beauty economy began to develop thanks to the introduction of Western fashion magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan and the proliferation of advertising and television programs related to beauty. Thanks to digital development, today Internet has become the main space in which this economic phenomenon is expanding more and more. Influencers work mainly on platforms such as Douyin, bilibili and other similar streaming services where millions of people connect to purchase beauty products to improve their appearance. According to Statista, the value of cosmetics retail sales in China rose to $ 52.3 billion in 2020, making it the second-largest beauty and personal care market in the world after the United States. “Beauty shopping” has become, more than an indulgence, a necessity for Chinese consumers who see, not only in beauty but also in a healthier lifestyle: an answer to any problem.

This growing emphasis on beauty trends has spread mainly to metropolises, where the consumption of beauty products becomes more and more popular as it strengthens the national economy. Among the main buyers are the new generations, millennials and Gen Z, strongly influenced by social media in purchasing decisions and whose shopping habits are increasingly adapting to continuous technological development. Purchases increased during the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, but more than just a “lockdown” pastime, they are looking for comfort, efficiency, and also a healthy lifestyle.

INFLUENCER IN CINA
Influencer in China

WHAT ARE THE MAIN ELEMENTS OF THE NEW BEAUTY ECONOMY?

Compared to the first developments of meinü jingji, the advertising of beauty products is now a fun and interactive method thanks to the increasing use of the Internet, which has made it part of the daily life of young Chinese people. Among the most searched terms are: bianmei 变美 “becoming beautiful”, huazhang jiaocheng 化妆教程 “make-up tutorial”, kuai jiqiao 快技巧 “quick tricks”, and gaibian 改变 “transformation”. The material promotes a physical image that reflects contemporary tastes: fair skin, double eyelids, a slim figure and a clean and charming look.

That represents the most captivating side of this phenomenon: the constant transformation in step with the times and social implications. From Western magazines and the first advertising signs to Douyin’s digital markets, the beauty economy advocates for the aesthetic tastes of contemporary China, and it’s a symbol of a constantly changing society. What will its future developments be?

Long Advisory digital marketing agency in China

Long Advisory supports American and European companies in China through digital marketing. In fact, our experience has led us to believe that today, the best and most convenient approach to make your brand well-known in China is through a digital approach. Furthermore, thanks to our know-how we know how to make your brand known to potential Chinese consumers. With the effective coordination of Long Advisory, your company will see a new rise in the largest market in the world: China.

Long Advisory is a digital marketing agency specializing in developing digital marketing solutions tailored for the Chinese market. 

Interested in expanding your brand in China? Contact us for more info and details at info@longadvisory.eu

GO BEYOND THE WALL


Federica Giampaolo

It is well known that doing business in a country other than one’s own implies knowledge of certain cultural aspects that are deemed necessary
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