The U.S., be it as a consumer or corporation, has a growing obsession with Eastern culture right now. Two cases: Marie Kondo, the Japanese consultant and best-selling author makes “tidying up” anything less than a chore in her Netflix hit, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” while Korean beauty trends, surging into importance in 2018, shift the awareness from weakness to strength with “beauty from the inside out.”
And from a broader business perspective, Chinese consumers, with heavy purses attributed to China’s growing middle class, are the continued focus of luxury brands – and anyone with a pulse on potential market penetration.
The Joy in Japanese Minimalism
Standing just 4 feet 7 inches, according to media reports, Marie Kondo reveals that less is more in her Netflix series “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.”
The KonMari Method teaches her students they are to be “surrounded only by the things they love,” and if it’s one thing Millennials are trying to love — it’s themselves.
Commonly referred to as the “burnout generation” or the “always-on generation” because of their inclination to overwork, “home-basing” is now a preference. Staying in over going out means a greater investment in home-based activities, including binge-watching shows on Netflix and focusing on home improvement. According to a report last year by Trusted Media Brands, 72 percent of families, with adults surveyed being age 18 and up and having at least two people co-residing, reflect an “always-on” attitude toward home improvement, too, and are “always seeking to improve [their] home” — cue the life-changing clean sweep of Marie Kondo.
With her dominant audience likely being Millennials, since they prioritize streaming services, the affinity for Kondo also mirrors current trends in wellness-spending behavior. In line with Pinterest’s 2019 trend report, “self-care,” showing a 140 percent increase in searches, is the “big theme in health and wellness for 2019.” Think delicate bamboo toothbrushes, bath oils and organic beeswax wraps, if Kondo allows.
Kicking Western Beauty Ideals, K-beauty Reigns
Not to be reduced to a 10-step care routine, but rather viewed holistically as a way to project beauty from within, the Western world, spearheaded by greater trend proliferation through social media, continues to admire Korean beauty standards.
In Euromonitor International’s “K-Pop, K-beauty and More: Exporting Korean Culture and Business” report, Korean product subcategories such as BB creams and CC creams are “some of the fastest growing categories in the U.S. beauty market.” In the U.S., beauty shoppers are most “interested in efficient and cutting-edge cosmetic technology” but “the majority have grown to view K-beauty as a pleasurable hobby as well as a superior grooming routine.”
Close Watch on Chinese Tourism
According to senior forecasting director at eMarketer, Monica Peart, and as stated in a newly released eMarketer report, this new middle class of Chinese consumers is settling into its “marked rise in purchasing power and average spending per person” as a result of this demographic’s rising incomes.
Poised to be the “world’s top retail market in 2019,” a position currently held by the U.S., China shows further momentum. This year, China’s total retail sales will grow 3.3 percent to reach $5.5 trillion despite slowing growth rates for both countries, and will exceed that of the U.S. through 2022.
A major driver for China’s retail economy is e-commerce, unsurprisingly, expected to encroach over half, or 55.8 percent of all online retail sales globally, with Alibaba leading the way in China.
In a separate report by Nielsen and Alipay on outbound Chinese tourism, surveying over 2,800 Chinese travelers and over 1,200 overseas merchants, both the “average actual spending and travel budget for outbound Chinese tourists increased year-on-year.”
For outbound Chinese tourists, the chief spending categories remain as shopping; 25 percent, accommodation; 18 percent, and dining; 16 percent, respectively. On recent overseas travel by Chinese tourists, 32 percent of transactions were completed with mobile payments, overtaking cash for the first time, yet older generations surprisingly remain the heaviest user adoption for mobile pay.
Looking at how this new middle class spends, and on what categories, remains of interest to the U.S. and Canada, as well as European countries such as France, the U.K., Italy and Germany, seeking to align their merchants with Chinese tourist spending habits.