China’s young generations are a fan of “seeding consumption” – a process where purchases are prompted by peer-to-peer recommendations, which has been the core of China’s e-commerce phenomenon. It is particularly true for the female demographic, with the practice found to have been commonplace amongst 67.6% of women aged between 27 and 39 years old, and the higher their salary, the more likely they are to be “sowed”, as per the 2022 China Seeding Economy Consumer Insights Report by industry research institute iiMedia.
Such consumer behaviour means identifying trends that resonate with women has become ever more important for market players in order to win over the target audience, and ultimately continue gaining a share of the country’s online shopping obsession. With International Women’s Day approaching, and in China, a spin-off celebration amongst girls or younger women that is known as “Girls Day” on 7 March, the timing could not be better in unveiling those “secret” touchpoints that will help brands to capture the attention of Chinese women.
This brought about the 2023 Ali Mama 38 Seeding Trends, which is a collaborative report by the marketing platform under tech giant Alibaba and CBNData. It signposted four categories to tap into for a more effective seeding process, including the Charm of Natural Beauty, the Imagination of Technology, the Creativity in Life, and the Drive of Emotion.
The Charm of Natural Beauty
While paying more attention to their appearance, the shrewd generations of Chinese women are more health-aware and environmentally conscious, propelling the endorsement of a “natural and delicate” beauty style that is pursued by 93% of Chinese female consumers.
The demand for delicacy in beauty care has pushed the growth of more diverse sub-categories in products, such as facial essence, sun protection, and eye cream, providing deep treatment for specific areas. It is also found that female consumers are more likely to be the so-called “component watchers”, meaning they are particularly mindful of ingredients in products.
It is reported that 51% of women shoppers habitually check if the elements included are healthy, which has also been the key to making an appeal to this demographic. As a result, products sourced from natural ingredients with additional features such as long-term repair and anti-aging are expected to continue to be sought after.
The Imagination of Technology
The young cohort of women consumers also cannot resist technological advancements, with 94% reported to be willing to pay for products incorporated with cutting-edge technologies. This is due partly to high-tech innovations responding to the aesthetic need, which women normally put higher weight on when they consume, in addition to basic product functionalities.
Such consumer preference is evident across different categories. 89% of women shoppers believe technology would boost the efficacy of skincare products. The Chinese beauty brand Proya wins over target consumers with scientific improvements made in its anti-oxidation and anti-sugar line, while the hair removal device maker Unlike is also popular among Chinese women consumers with its ice-cooling technology, providing a pain-free solution.
This is more so when it comes to small household appliances, with China’s emerging smart home market fanning the tendency. For instance, increasing interest is seen in AI-powered devices such as water dispensers equipped with Tmall Genie, a smart speaker developed by Alibaba using the intelligent personal assistant service AliGenie. These innovations in technology combined with adding value to existing offerings, also cater to the more nuanced needs of China’s female consumers.
The Creativity in Life
The young generation of women appears to be more independent in all aspects of their lives and “making themselves happy” is their philosophy. As a result, they pursue a healthier lifestyle and are more active physically, therefore becoming a rising force in China’s fitness consumption.
The occurrence creates more collaboration opportunities for brands that are not in the sports field to penetrate the lifestyle of female workout enthusiasts and further engage with the wider female population.
In the meantime, women also show more interest in products that allow them to express themselves freely. Women empowerment is seemingly continuing its momentum in marketing with increased awareness of women’s rights at home, particularly amongst the savvy crowds of Gen Z and Millennials. This has resulted in a higher pursuit of inclusivity and diversity, which has pushed market players to be more creative in both their product creations and marketing strategies in order to speak to those consumer demands.
The Drive of Emotion
Emotion turned out to be another touchpoint in harnessing female consumers, with 90% of them willing to pay for products that respond to their emotional desire. This is coupled with increased emphasis on mental health in the fallout of the global health crisis and prolonged stringent COVID restrictions in China.
As a result, emotional value as well as the ability to enhance “sensory experience” have become some of the biggest selling points to 87% of female consumers. For example, the cleansing products from Anessa (a sub-brand of the Japanese beauty label Shiseido) are well received by Chinese women for their “clean and unique smell”, which is described by its female endorsers as “providing a sense of healing.”
While other personal care brands have also doubled down efforts in enhancing the overall “sensory experience”, including vision, olfactory, and texture, in a bid to trigger a pleasant feeling in women, and further unleash the spending power of this lucrative demographic.