China Insights

What ‘post 90s generation’ want from personal care brands

Jason Yu

Greater China General Manager

Shoppers 28.06.2019 / 18:31

Post 90s beauty group photo full

Post 90s generation consumers are core growth driver for personal care market in China.

In China, demographic cohorts were often defined by decades in which the segment was born. Post 90s generation refers to those who were born in the 1990s. They were once considered as “emerging consumers”. But now in 2019, they are in their 20s (from 20 to 29) and have become mainstream consumers for many categories. For personal care brands, they are the core growth driver.

Kantar Worldpanel data showed that on average, in 2018, each female post 90s generation consumer spent 216 yuan more on personal care products than in 2017. More importantly, they contributed to nearly 30% of personal care category sales value growth. Their contribution for skincare and cosmetics sales value growth was an even higher 35%.


Post 90s Importance

Post 90s generation consumer engagement has become the make-or-break factor for many brands. For example, for the top 50 skincare brands, their sales value growth is correlated to their penetration rate among post 90s generation. For those brands which achieved disruptive growth in recent three years (note 1), post 90s contributed 39% of sales value growth of skincare brands and 45% for cosmetics brands. Apparently, for many categories, engaging post 90s generation consumer is the key for brands to maintain or grow sales.

Skincare And Post 90s

Disrupter And Post 90s

Pain points everywhere, I’m not satisfied!

Now that we see post 90s generation is the key for future growth, what are their unique characteristics? How can personal care brands recruit them? Here are four key tips for winning them over.

First of all, post 90s generation are very demanding: they have pain points everywhere; they can never be satisfied by simple solutions. Compared with all female consumers, they are especially demanding for lip care where high pain point index hit 173 (penetration rate of lip care products among post 90s generation female consumers is 1.73 times that of all female consumers), followed by neck care (148) and eye care (120). Their need for these facial parts has also extended to other parts, including body care, hand care and foot care. 

Post 90s Painpoints Full 

Next is a bad news (for mediocre brands): They never compromise and prefer only the most effective hero items. Take daily facial care products for example, on average, each post 90s has 4.1 steps for skincare activity, but they buy products from 4.8 skincare brands, which means even for the same step they would use different brands.

But at the same time, after buying a brand’s skincare product, more than 60% of post 90s generation consumer didn’t buy any other product from this brand. It means they will buy only the hero product of a brand and ignore the others. From a brand perspective, hero product can effectively recruit post 90s generation consumers, but they cannot expect them to automatically buy more product from this brand. In other words, hero product has no or very limited halo effect. 

Limited Halo Effect 

Thirdly, social media play a very important role in the purchasing journey of post 90s generation consumers.

They are savvier than other generations in using social media. They spend a lot of time on searching for new products to buy, and their friends’ sharing on social media can prompt them to add new items to their wish list. But through further research on social media, they might delete some candidates from their wish list. Eventually, they might buy through WeChat or RED (小红书), which are both social media. 

Post 90s Consumer Journey 1

Post 90s Consumer Journey 2

Last but not least, and might be a surprise for many: though e-commerce is a very important channel for them and still growing (33% growth in 2018 from a year ago), not all purchasing are done online. Post 90s generation also buy from offline channels. They enjoy walking into uniquely designed shops, and impulsively buy new products that have special packages. Convenient stores, which can meet urgent and unexpected shopping needs, have seen their personal care and cosmetics sales value towards post 90s generation jumped by 53% from a year ago. (note 2)

Four pillars to unlock post 90s growth potential

Kantar Worldpanel has summarized four pillars that brands should leverage to unlock growth potential among post 90s generation, including targeting core needs, activating growth with hero product, smart media planning and smart channel strategy.

1. Target core needs

Post 90s generation claim they have pain points everywhere, but those boiled down to three key needs:

1. Anti-age head to toe. They not only need anti-age products for face and eyes, but also for body and neck.

2. Anti-sensitivity. When post 90s generation consumers with sensitive skin experience redness and dryness, they need repairing products to quickly soothe and restore skin health. For sensitive skin consumers’ daily routine, and even for non-sensitive skin consumers, mild, protective, non-additive products are popular for strengthening skin barrier and preventing irritation.

3. Create personal style. Post 90s generation hate to look like everyone else. They need lipstick, eye shadow or even fragrance to build their unique image/identity.

Post 90s Painpoints Summary

2. Activate growth with hero product

After deep-dive analysis of pain points of post 90s generation, brands should focus on launching hero products to tackle one of them. If the hero product succeeds, brands should develop a unique positioning based on that story and “own a personal care need,” such as build an expert image for anti-ageing, colour cosmetics or sun care products.

From there, brands can further launch occasion-based communications to expand their hero product portfolio, such as from a sun care expert to repair and facial cleaning expert brand. By concentrating on highly related products, brands can maximize their impact. It is much more effective than randomly launching new products in disconnected categories.

3. Smart media planning

In China, social media marketing is expensive and its landscape swifts quickly. Should brands invest in every fast-rising social media? Kantar Worldpanel has studied consumers’ social media app usage behaviour and their purchasing behaviour, and found different consumers prefer slightly different apps. For example, lip care shoppers prefer video apps and entertainment apps more, while high-end eye and facial serum buyers spend more time on work and news apps. 

Media investment is just a first step. Brands need to measure their campaigns’ effectiveness, track the lifts in sales, brand equity and new shopper recruitment as well as optimize their plan constantly.

4. Smart channel strategy

Lastly, e-commerce is a key channel for post 90s generation, but things are always changing. For example, Kantar Worldpanel data showed that for post 90s, their overall purchasing of personal care products during Singles Day has declined, but their purchasing of high-end products in this category jumped by 23% from normal days. More importantly, more than half of post 90s consumers who bought high-end skincare brands have never bought a high-end brand before. So for high-end category/brand/product, Singles Day presents a great opportunity to recruit new post 90s generation shoppers, while it is not necessarily true for all personal care products.

Post 90s At Singles Day

For offline channels, convenient store is still growing fast, especially for urgent need categories, such as body/hair care, facial mask and sanitary napkin. Brands should also choose different CVS partners in different regions across China because CVS market landscape varies a lot geographically.

Post 90s CVS Partners

Data source: Kantar Worldpanel Beauty Panel, 2018 vs. 2017, female aged 20-29

To know more insights about post 90s generation consumers, please contact us.

Source: Kantar Worldpanel

Editor's notes

Note 1: Disruptive brands are brands with 2016 market share <0.1%, and growth rate 2018 vs 2016 >100%;

Note 2: Data source: Kantar Worldpanel Beauty Panel 2018 vs. 2017, female between 20 and 29; Out-of-home panel, 2018 vs. 2017, Key & A Cities, all shoppers between 20 and 29;

* Kantar Worldpanel senior analysts Biting Liu and Tianhui Liu also contributed to this article;

* To reach the author, or to know more information, data and analysis of China's FMCG market, please contact us ;

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