Chinese vs Brazilian women: Which part of their bodies are they willing to invest more on?

Living Beauty, the latest study by the cosmetics beauty division at Ifop, focused on major mass markets China and Brazil. 600 women aged 18 to 55 were surveyed in each country to identify different women profiles in terms of their aesthetic concerns.

Although the relationship with beauty cannot be defined the same way in the two countries – it is all about pleasure and sensuality in Brazil, while China focuses on control and safety – several common features actually bring these two countries’ consumer profiles closer.

The cosmetic market in China is growing fast and offers more and more sophisticated products, analyzes Laure Friscourt, Head of Consumer & Beauty Division at Ifop. It is to be noted that anti-aging products are widely represented, with 60 per cent to 70 per cent penetration, and that the local, more and more premium Chinese brands are strongly developing. In addition, women mainly seek naturalness and guaranteed safety as a result of the high impact of pollution.

Brazilian women expect these same benefits from cosmetics, in a country which possesses the largest wealth of natural raw materials and cosmetic actives. Brazil is unique in its approach of body hygiene and beauty. It is characterized by a great ethnic diversity, and it is also the country where the hair is king. Just like in China, it is a market that counts more and more premium brands and whose consumers expect to get a lot of advice.

In Brazil, beauty lies in the way people seek both wellness and/or social integration, while it still often has to do with achieving a status of one’s own in China, while finding an ‘internal health-external beauty’ balance.

Six types of profiles identified
The study identifies six women profiles in both countries, ranging from over-committed women, who are quite numerous in Brazil and would do anything to achieve perfection, to the health-natural group, which gathers 21% of Chinese women. Then, in the middle of the mapping can be found two interesting profiles of women with a relationship with beauty that has not matured yet, in particular for 25% of the Chinese.

The belly as a source of dissatisfaction
The women were surveyed on the body parts they are the most satisfied and dissatisfied with, and those on which they are the most willing to invest. The results unveil the areas to be studied by cosmetics brands.

And it comes as no surprise that the first clear result is the importance of the hair in Brazil, and of the eyes in China. Yet, when Brazilian women are asked which body part they are willing to invest more on, 58% of them answer their bellies. Then 40% mention their hair, followed by the lower part of their bodies (bottom and legs). By contrast, Chinese women declare they are willing to invest more on the upper part of their bodies: 70% of them mention their faces, 30% their chest, neck and shoulders.

This contrasting approach can be explained by the different lifestyles and cultures, but again, it also conceals a common preoccupation. Indeed, even if they say they are not ready to invest more on this area of their bodies ‘yet’, most Chinese women also admit they are not satisfied with their bellies.

This article is based on research published by the Beauty division of Ifop and adapted from a publication by Kristel Milet in www.premiumbeautynews.com

A particular relation to health

Boosted by improved standards of living and the development of medical infrastructures, Chinese citizens’ health and life expectancy improved drastically over the last thirty years. But the relationship the population developed to health is complex and has been impacted by repeated incidents in the fields of food safety and access to health services. This article presents some of the main specifics of the Chinese relation to health as observed in recent market research studies conducted among citizens and doctors in large urban areas of the country.

 

A vision of health deeply rooted in local culture and tradition

How health is approached is a central element of the Chinese culture and way of life. It is greatly influenced by the Taoist philosophy which encourages respecting nature’s life cycles and a nutrition approach that balances yin and yang. But what is really different from what can be observed in most other countries, Western ones in particular, is a holistic, enlarged, inclusive vision of health.

In this vision, mental health and physical health are deeply intertwined, much more associated to one another in people’s mind than elsewhere. The body is approached « outside in » but also « inside out » with the notion that what feeds external signs is before all the inside. In this way, physical appearance, for example skin tone, is handled as much via nutrition and lifestyle (sleep, no sun exposure..) than via cosmetic products applied to the surface of the skin.

In the posture of the Chinese, the notions of prevention, anticipation and harmony are more prevalent than the notion of curing what is not going well. Rhythm of life, nutrition, traditional medicine, feng shui, etc. all contribute to this approach. The population is therefore naturally in a position of anticipated management of one’s health, more than Western people who tend to approach health via a curative angle.

The impact of China’s development model

The rapid growth and opening of China to the outside these past thirty years have had a significant impact on the way citizens approach heath. Pollution and the effects of the environment on one’s organism have become major preoccupations for the Chinese who have become the world’s most worried population about the state of the environment. 53% of them even consider that « the effects of society on environment are so great that it is not possible for people to have an impact at the individual level » (GlobeScan 2012). One simple reason to that: large Chinese cities are amongst the most polluted of the planet and their inhabitants experience the consequences in their daily life. For them, the degradation of the environment is not a theoretical concept but rather an experienced reality with very concrete consequences: micro-particles concentration in the air forcing people to wear masks, water improper for consumption, developing allergies, etc.

The relation of the general public to health is also confronted to Western influence and a lifestyle model – individualized food portions, high in meat, the development of leisure activities, motorized commute, etc. – which impacts local habits. This is considered by the population as both a danger – perturbing ancient habits that have proven benefits – and the opportunity to solve or bypass certain problems specific to the Chinese society, for example in the field of food safety.

This vision is confirmed by doctors who see in two typical signs of the developing consumption society – the rise in pollution and in stress levels – the factors which consequences on citizens’ health will most rise over the next 10 years.

Food safety is a very sensitive issue

Following a number of crisis associated to contaminated food products over the past few years, Chinese consumers show more and more distrust towards the quality of what they eat. They are particularly careful about meat, seafood, fruits and vegetable. And a survey by the Chinese Association for Sciences and Technology shows that 70% of them think genetically modified food is dangerous for heath.

In sensitive segments such as baby food and dairy products, consumer from major cities turn more and more to foreign brands whom they associate to safer production processes and ingredients. Local brands keep an edge when it comes to proximity with consumers and having products that fit local taste.

Here again, the vision of health professionals echoes that of consumers. A very large majority of doctors (77%) consider that the presence of harmful ingredients in food will represent a serious threat to the people’s health in the years to come. This level of concern makes China stand out among 9 countries spread over 3 continents in which Ifop conducted a survey on health concerns.

Tensions about the national health system

Cases of medical staff being physically attacked by patients appear regularly in the news and are being discussed abundantly on social media. As a matter of fact a certain tension has developed between patients and doctors over the past few years, primarily associated to the opacity of the health system, which reforms are badly communicated, as well as to hectic schedules in hospitals.

As a typical example a patient with skin infection recently interviewed by Ifop in Shanghai described: « I don’t think the doctor paid enough attention to my condition. I waited an hour and a half to meet him, we had a 5 minute discussion, he barely checked me out and he handed me a prescription without explaining it. »

Even if the Chinese go to a family doctor on a day-to-day basis, hospitals are the place of choice when one is really ill. Over-attendance of these combined with limited resources contribute to growing tensions.

An evolution towards digital health

In order to take control of their health and alleviate their worries consumers search for information on internet. They share their experiences on numerous discussion platforms or interact directly with local or foreign doctors on dedicated sites such as www.haodf.com

The Chinese are very much advanced when it comes to digital habits: very active on social media they are among the world leaders when it comes to e-commerce and mobile application usage. This affinity with digital tools translates in the field of health into the development of online purchases such as on the dedicated Tmall site www.yao.tmall.com and growing usage of personal health applications such as Lifesense.

Major healthcare players now ought to take this aspect into consideration to optimize how they communicate with their audience and develop services that bring substantial value to consumers.

Opportunities for French players

In this Chinese health landscape, French companies, especially those in the food industry, services to patients and connected devices have great opportunities to meet the local public. They should not hesitate to display the guarantees of harmlessness and efficacy to which the Chinese are very sensitive. And as always in China, a very diverse country geographically and socio-economically, they should design a segmented approach to their market if they want to be really successful.

Article written by Christophe Jourdain and Chunxiao Huo – Originally published in French in CCIFC’s magazine Connexions

Consumers are over-exposed and expect more relevance from mobile ads

With the proliferation of mobile devices especially smart phones world over and more specifically in China, consumers have taken to using them like nobody’s business. So much so that now smart phones have overtaken traditional desktops and laptops as the No 1 device for accessing internet.

With this constant access to the internet comes the need to stay connected, do shopping, find information etc. All this focus on their smart phones by consumers also means marketers want to get a slice of their attention. We therefore now see digital media budgets of marketers grow exponentially.

A consequence of this explosion of spends on digital media is that consumers are constantly bombarded with advertising on their mobile devices. IFOP Asia along with media powerhouse OMD China conducted a survey on Chinese people’s attitude towards mobile advertising and found that consumers on average are exposed to 8.5 mobile ads a day. As a consequence, nearly 90% of consumer’s feel mobile advertising is an annoyance with a common refrain being that the ads are not relevant or a waste of their mobile data.

But this doesn’t mean they are completely against this form of advertising. In fact near universal numbers (94%) feel it’s a fact of life / necessity and even 3 out of 4 respondents feel some of these ads are interesting. This study has also found that ads on smart phones have the biggest influence on purchase intent ahead of devices like PC, Tablets and Phablets.

So the question is how to make the ads relevant to consumers. The study found that consumers connect to mobile ads that are practical, entertaining and unique. Themes that are not completely exclusive to mobile advertising.

In a nutshell, marketers would definitely need to invest in mobile ads, better target with those ads and make the ads more relevant or specific to individual consumers needs.

Understanding the art of Chinese Gifting

The evolution of gifting as a practice

China as a country is ever evolving in every sector and category of consumer market. The economic shift in the country’s fortunes has had a consequent impact on Chinese lives as well as their habits. So much so, that a practice of yesteryear would seem a mere passé in the current day and age.

Take for instance gifting as a practice. It’s a good barometer of how the society has changed and evolved over a period of time. For centuries, Chinese people have exchanged gifts as part of a tradition to show courtesy and enhance people’s connections for both business and personal purposes. With ever increasing disposable incomes – more people coming into the wealthy class every year – impact of western culture, new emerging technologies, rising pride of being Chinese, and last but not least by anti-corruption campaign, gifting as a practice has evolved, adopted and even gone digital.

Some manifestations of these changes in the gifting practice are very palpable. When gifting, a lot of Chinese people have now started to prefer low key but high quality products instead of gifts with an ‘in your face’ brand logo. For instance, comparatively low-key brand Bottega Veneta posted almost 30% growth in Greater China as opposed to Prada which has posted 30% decline in sales globally mostly in part due to declining sales in China.

Chinese consumers also seem to be adopting different cultures given the global integration of the Chinese society. They now celebrate alien festivals e.g. Christmas and Valentine’s day, and spend money gifting premium chocolates, imported wine and even upmarket lingerie.

Another aspect that is unique to China is the digital nature of the Chinese consumers. The popularity of “Wechat Hongbao” (sending each other lucky money on Wechat) in Chinese New Year is a good example that shows how new technology has influenced gifting habits. More than a billion red envelopes were exchanged through WeChat on Chinese New Year’s Eve alone.

However there is one big trend that seem to have had the most impact on Chinese gifting and more so on Chinese economic elite: the current anti-corruption drive. As a consequence of this, consumers have started to move to second rung of brands such as Micheal Kors, Balenciaga among others.  Another consequence we observe is the emergence of experiential luxury as a gifting choice. More and more Chinese people are opting for exotic spas, luxury vacations and even staycations as gifting choices.

 

The opportunity for brands

As an industry, Gifting has grown leaps and bounds over the years. This market is now valued at a whopping RMB 770 billion (Source: China gift research institute) and still growing. The categories that account for a lion’s share of this market are alcoholic beverages (eg. Baijiu, Cognac, Wine etc.), writing instruments (eg. Pen etc), accessories/watches/Jewellery, food/beverage (eg. Chocolate etc.), bone china, beauty & color cosmetics as well as experiential luxury (eg. Resort etc.).

Some of these categories have been traditional gifting sources where as some very new e.g. experiential luxury. As a gifting category, it was almost unknown until recently. However with maturation of the Chinese people coupled with need to be less boisterous given the anti corruption drive, categories of this kind are fast emerging as an alternative gifting choice.

 

Deciphering gifting as a practice to optimize brand initiatives

This change in the gifting practice calls for a thorough understanding of psychological motives rather than just studying behaviour. The prime reason being the fact that gifting at the very basic level tends to be more emotive rather than just a functional practice. Therefore understanding where the consumer is coming from is more insightful in understanding the stated behaviour rather than just knowing what the consumers do as a consequence.

Ifop Asia is currently undertaking a syndicated study on gifting to unearth insights into this fascinating world of Chinese gifting. The survey delves into not only quantifying behaviour with respect to gifting across categories of interest but also understand the motivations behind gifting.

In fact sizing the motivations behind gifting followed by mapping of categories and brands on those motivations is the starting point to understand the whole puzzle of Chinese gifting behaviour. This approach helps transcend categories and will let you know the motivation your brand is currently playing on, and if that is where you would like to continue playing. A decision on the same would need to be undertaken keeping the size of the motivation and the competition across categories in mind.

Moreover, the study also aims to understand the hygiene, drivers and differentiators of gifting practice in general and business/personal type of gifting in particular. An understanding of this is likely to help marketers to prioritize their effort to maximize their appeal to consumers.

This survey also aims to unearth trends in gifting, so that one can map the evolution of the categories and brands across the years and by occasions.

The subscription to the study is currently open and field work will be conducted in the month of April 2015. If you’re interested in subscribing, please do get in touch with Manohar Balivada.

SELF Beauty White Paper 2014 : the transforming habits of Chinese women

Ifop Asia recently partnered with SELF (悦己), the well-known women lifestyle magazine, on the edition of the White Paper 2014 which was released in its December issue. The magazine wanted to gather insightful knowledge about the Chinese beauty consumers and asked us to investigate Chinese women’s needs on anti-aging, whitening, foundation as well as their perception, acceptance and usage towards the latest products, new concepts, and new trends in the beauty universe.

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Why are Chinese consumers so Digital?

The smashing introduction of Alibaba in Wall Street and the burst of Xiaomi into the world’s top 3 smartphone manufacturers recently highlighted the development of China in the field of Internet and technologies. But behind the success of these companies lies a market reality: Chinese consumers are super-connected and super-mobile.

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Second tier cities are growing tall

In 2014, for the 7th year in a row, China was the country in the world where the most high rise buildings were built. 58 of the 97 200-meter-plus buildings completed across the world were in China. The city of Tianjin ranked first with 6 such tall buildings, followed by Chongquing, Wuhan and Wuxi with 4 each.

This is another sign of the dynamism of second tier cities which are following in the footsteps of tier 1 cities such as Shanghai and Beijing to become internationally recognized economic centers. It is these tier 2 cities, but also the lower tier ones, that have become the engine of growth for China.

The new chinese consumer

China has become a huge and essential consumption market. Its enrichment brought a society of consumers where rich elites go alongside a middle class who displays its purchasing power. This population of over 350 million will continue to grow to reach 850 million by 2030. The Chinese consumers of today – and of tomorrow – will not be those of yesterday.

In a time of global economic crisis, most experts consider that domestic consumption is what stimulates the growth of China. For now, China is still the major country where consumption represents the smallest percentage of GDP, less than 50% compared to about 70% in Europe and 80% in the US, while investments represent nearly 50% of GDP vs about 15% in G8 countries, a record in economic history. This shows how much room there is for consumption to grow further.

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The changing tastes of chinese consumers

It’s inevitable, the taste and consumption model of the Chinese people doesn’t stop evolving. How far can this this exploration go? What’s the image of French products in China? A study conducted recently by Ifop among Chinese people aged 20 to 40 living in major cities answers these questions.

Chinese people are experiencing a major shift in their eating habits. They tend to eat more fruits (64%), fresh market products (56%), dairy products (53%) and meat (41%) than 5 years ago, and in Shanghai specifically more prepared foods (38%), a phenomenon that can be associated to the fast paced lifestyle and westernization of the city.

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Connected chopsticks detect contaminated food

Ifop is an official partner of Netexplo, the global observatory of digital transformation and how digital innovation impacts the life of people and corporations.

On February 5th, the winners of the 2015 Netexplo Forum were revealed at Unesco in Paris in front of 1200 decision leaders. One of the 10 laureates was Chinese Baidu Kuai Sou: connected chopsticks that detect contaminated food.

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