Notes from China
Ally Dai is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of
Ringier Trade Media Ltd, responsible for trade publications including Happi China. She has more than 10 years
of experience in the cosmetic and food industries. Happi
China is a leading media for the China household & personal care industry. Published by Ringier Trade Media in
strategic editorial partnership with Happi, it helps local
manufacturers update their knowledge on formulating,
testing and packaging, as well as providing market insight.
UNCOVERING THE GROWTH
IN THE FACIAL MASK MARKET
LOOKING ACROSS the global skin care market, the facial mask is probably one of the few categories where
Asia dominates. This is especially true
in China, where, in recent years, the mask
has become the fastest growing category.
According to Ogilvy & Mather, the number of facial mask brands in China has
quadrupled in the past two years, reaching
300 variants in 2014. The current market
size is estimated to be $1.6 billion, with an
average annual growth rate of nearly 30%.
With such tremendous growth, the
market is flush with various masks claiming a dizzying array of ingredients and
technologies, the vast majority of which
draw inspirations from traditional skin
care creams/lotion ingredients, such as
botanical/Traditional Chinese Medicine
extracts as well as hyaluronic acid, vitamins, minerals, collages and peptides. The
function claims made by facial masks are
also largely in line with the overall skin
care sector, where brightening and mois-turizing/replenishing are dominant, and
anti-aging and anti-pollution/detoxifying
are quickly catching up.
With competition heating up, standing out
from the crowd has become a major challenge for all brands competing in the facial
mask market. As such, we are now seeing
brands trying to differentiate themselves
by all means. Active ingredients that are
well-known among consumers, whether
from traditional skin care creams/lotions
or food and pharmaceutical products, all
play an important role in adding instant
credibility to product efficacy claims and
therefore helping differentiation.
Sharing such beliefs, manufacturers
in food and pharmaceutical industries
are also increasingly entering into the
market with masks containing dietary or
OTC ingredients that are easily recognizable by consumers. A recent example of
such crossover is Northern Wilderness
Agribusiness Group, a food and agricultural group based in China’s Northeast
provinces. Its Northeast Professional
Mask launched in Q3 2014 features extracts from grains and beans as well as
traditional Chinese herbs such as ginseng
and black fungus, all of which are staple
crops and plants in Northeast China.
Active ingredients aside, formulas
that can deliver novel sensory feelings
also help brands’ differentiation due to
enhanced user experience; one such ex-
ample is thermo active masks. Another
notable example is the overnight mask.
This rinse-free product claims to deliver
convenient and intensive care for skin
overnight—very similar to how a tradi-
tional night cream or lotion performs. The
overnight mask’s watery, gel-like texture,
as well as its fresh feeling and visible effect
upon application, can help distinguish it
from traditional products.
For peel-off mask sheets, there is an-
other useful way of differentiation: sub-
strates. Along with various claims, the
substrates are also starting to diversify in
terms of material sources, structures and
shapes. Cotton-based nonwovens are the
most widely used substrate material for
masks, especially for lower-priced products.
While most brand owners strive to differ-
entiate and even upgrade their products to
a masstige or even prestige level, the sub-
strates made from other natural materials
such as bamboo or wood pulp, or combined
with different functional materials like char-
coal or nano fibers are coming into play.
Such new substrates can not only fa-
cilitate brands’ environmentally-friendly
and sustainable positioning, but also offer
Consumer demand for facial masks is soaring in China.