Beauty from within: Whitening, anti-ageing, hydration, hair care supplements booming in China– Alibaba

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Products containing whitening and anti-ageing functions were most searched keywords on Tmall © Getty Images
Products containing whitening and anti-ageing functions were most searched keywords on Tmall © Getty Images

Related tags: China, Alibaba, Beauty from within, tmall, ecommerce

Beauty supplements are the fastest growing category within the health and wellness space on Tmall, according to new insights from e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The beauty supplement category is poised to grow quicker than existing popular categories such as bone health, gut health, immunity, and weight management.

At a recent webinar organised by Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA), Alibaba Group’s business development manager James Sung explained most customers on Tmall were females, who were already shopping online for cosmetic and fashion products, extending their purchases into beauty supplements. 

The webinar is a four-part series conducted in partnership with the China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicines & Health Products (CCCMHPIE). Watch it here​.

Sung said the growth of the beauty supplement market in China was aided by the increase in per capita spending with consumers looking for premiumisation. He said they were willing to fork out RMB1,000 (US$152) or more for beauty supplements.

Consumers purchasing beauty supplements in China have doubled between 2017 to 2019.

Within beauty supplements, Sung said products containing whitening and anti-ageing functions were most popular, as these were also the most searched keywords on Tmall.

This was followed by hydration, an upcoming trend according to Sung. Hydration is important in preventing wrinkles and fine lines, adding to Chinese consumers demand for anti-ageing products.

Another upcoming trend observed was supplements for hair health, especially for the male population.

Sung said hair care keywords have risen in popularity, and consumers were “looking for products to prevent or reduce hair loss, or boost hair growth​.”

According to Sung, the top five beauty supplement exporters were ANZ, Japan, France, Germany and US.

Alibaba has more than 100 million active users, and more than 22,000 international brands.

ANZ brands such as Swisse and Bioisland rank among the top five cross-border products on Tmall.

Alibaba is currently working with Chemist Warehouse to expand its offline presence in China.

2020: Year of supplement

According to Sung, this year was a year for health supplements as the world continues to fight an ongoing battle with COVID-19.

People are starting to pay attention to what functions complimentary medicine can provide to them, and I think it is a good sign overall for our industry​.”

Supplements with immune health functions are sought after, such as vitamin C, D, and recently trending, probiotics.

Probiotics have risen from its traditional role in gut health, and people are starting to understand the role of probiotics in immune health​.”

Interestingly, vitamin C has seen applications beyond supplements. Sung pointed out that vitamin C can be used as for whitening purposes especially within skin care.

Sung also mentioned ingredient trends across different age groups.

For instance, adults between 25 to 29 were looking for supplements containing grape seed, collagen, enzymes for anti-ageing and beauty purposes.

In the younger age group of 18 to 24, consumers were more focused on energy drinks, gummy supplements, fibre and keto-related products for weight management.

For consumers in their 30s, supplements containing probiotics, omega-3, glucosamine for immune and healthy ageing purposes were sought after.

This year, Tmall also saw the addition of a new supplement, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which focuses on cell health.

In the recent singles day (Double 11) festival, Alibaba’s gross merchandise value (GMV) across all platforms was RMB498bn (US$75bn), a 5% growth from 2019.

The firm is preparing for its next event festival, Double 12 held on December 12, and other events including Black Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day.

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