Skip to main content

E-commerce Continues China Boom

Skin-care sets, popular in China but not in other countries, continue to gain.

As Singles Day approaches, e-commerce sales for prestige beauty products in China are on the rise.

According to The NPD Group, e-commerce sales in China reached $710 million in August, up 61 percent year-over-year.

Skin care was the best-performing category. Sales were up 71 percent year-over-year, and 59 percent of prestige beauty consumer bought skin-care online in August, according to NPD. Skin-care sets and kits were popular, driving 34 percent of sales. While sets don’t tend to perform well in other countries, in China, they are popular, NPD noted, and brands have found success launching exclusive sets and kits there.

Face cream is the segment’s second-biggest sub category, and it grew 70 percent year-over-year in August, NPD said. Of all face creams sold online during the time period, 16 percent contain clinical ingredients.

Related Galleries

“While the makeup category is as big as the skin-care category in the U.S., and fragrance is performing better than other categories in France, skin care is by far the biggest category in China, making up more than half of sales from prestige beauty consumers in the country,” said Stanley Kee, managing director for Asia Pacific for The NPD Group, in a statement.

You May Also Like

“Consumers have obviously changed their skin-care routine this year, focusing on self-care as they spent more time at home; and many of those using more products will likely stick with their new routine as life continues to normalize in China, helping the skin-care category to maintain its sales momentum.”

Online sales in China — a major driver for big and small beauty companies seeking growth — have been on the rise, according to NPD.

In June, for example, e-commerce sales in China were up 87 percent year-over-year to $1.3 billion, NPD said. That jump was driven by China’s 618 Shopping Festival, a large e-commerce promotional event. This year, close to 100,000 brands with 10 million items participated, more than double the brands that participated last year.

All categories saw growth driven by those promotions. Skin-care sales nearly doubled — up 98 percent — to $489 million; makeup sales increased 58 percent to $102 million; fragrance sales jumped 61 percent to $21 million, and hair-care sales gained 126 percent to $16 million, NPD said.

Tmall and have been driving online beauty sales in China — NPD data showed that as of June, Tmall’s growth rate for prestige beauty sales was up 90 percent, and JD’s was up 74 percent.

Social commerce has been a big driver. “This year, we have suddenly a lot of livestreaming sales. So social commerce is becoming more and more important,” said Samuel Yan, e-commerce commercial lead at The NPD Group, based in Shanghai, in a previous interview with WWD. “WeChat Mini Programs are also becoming an important platform for the brands to sell through.”

Kee noted that NPD’s China consumer sentiment study showed 26 percent of Chinese consumers said they only purchase beauty products online. “With another online festival, Double 11, scheduled for November, it is likely that sales from this event will help China experience record sales for this year,” Kee said in a statement.

For more from, see: 

In China, Social Commerce Helps Spur Prestige Beauty Sales

China’s Hottest Makeup Trends

How China’s Beauty Business Is Rebounding Post-Coronavirus Crisis