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Nielsen: ComRatings Author Joint Whitepaper on the Chinese Online Cosmetics Shopper

Sue Feng,, 010-5912-9195

Young and affluent women key online shoppers for cosmetics category
Cosmetics e-shopper touchpoints span more than shopping sites
Facial masks were the most popular online cosmetics purchase

Shanghai – January 2, 2014 – According to a recent report jointly authored by ComRatings and Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, online cosmetic shoppers may spend hours browsing online looking for the right products and deals. And in some cases, consumers even actively engage with brands and online communities before making a purchase.

Nielsen and ComRatings jointly released the whitepaper detailing how Chinese consumers shopped for cosmetics on last year’s Singles’ Day (Nov. 11, 2013) based on a sample of nearly 8,000 panelists who browsed, visited or purchased cosmetic products online on a day that’s wellknown in China for being a one-day shopping event.

Young and Affluent Women – Key online buyers for cosmetic products

According to Nielsen, the majority of online buyers for cosmetic products are generally young and affluent. Specifically, 83 percent of online cosmetic shoppers are aged between 20 and 39. Of those, 93 percent are female.

More than half of the (53%) the online cosmetic shoppers claimed they have a salary between 5000 and 8000 yuan per month, followed by those with a salary beyond 8000 yuan per month (30%). Ninety-three percent of online shoppers aged between 20 and 29 and 94 percent of respondents aged between 30 and 39 currently earn over 5000 yuan monthly.

“There is great potential for cosmetics manufacturers and retailers to expand their business, as online cosmetics shoppers are comparatively more affluent and younger, with strong purchase power and a desire for a better and higher quality life,” said Steven Li, managing director of CR-Nielsen.

10 a.m.-11 a.m. was the Peak Hour for Online Shopping on Singles’ Day

“Though this year’s Singles’ Day fell on a Monday, it did not negatively affect the enthusiasm of Chinese online shoppers,” said Li. Nielsen information shows that online shopping for cosmetics products peaked between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. for most of the major shopping sites in China such as Tmall, Taobao, JD and Yihaodian.

Nielsen’s online-shopping traffic data shows that between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. was the most active period of online shopping across different shopping sites. This is in line with the overall trend published by Alibaba, which noted that by 1:39 p.m., the total sales on Tmall and Taobao had reached 20 billion, when a total of 17 million shoppers were online.

Consumers Use Several Touchpoints When Shopping Online

“Shopping sites were the most engaged platforms on Nov. 11; however, consumers’ shopping journeys involved many touchpoints, such as search engines, pre-purchase sites and media sites, representing opportunities for retailers and brands to influence the shoppers’ final choice,” said Li.

According to the report, 96 percent of online cosmetic shoppers measured visited shopping sites, and 91 percent logged on to knowledge and education sites, best represented by search engines and media sites to help them make a purchase decision.

Based on observed browsing behavior, Nielsen information shows that 60 percent of online shoppers also turned to social networking sites such as online blogs and Weibo, for advice and recommendations in terms of what to buy, or to engage with the manufacturers for benefits and promotional activities.

Other touch points includes pre-purchase and browsing sites—for comparison pricing and rebate sites such as etao and dianping—before online shoppers ultimately finished at personal admin sites like Alipay or Unionpay to complete their purchases. Nielsen’s information shows that nearly half of the online cosmetic shoppers (48%) logged on to pre-purchase sites for a good deals, and around two-thirds (75%) of the online shoppers ultimately purchased online.

“Despite only 24 hours of sales on Singles’ Day, Nielsen information shows that online shoppers for cosmetics products made extensive efforts to go between different touchpoints to make sure they received the best deal, not only in price, but in quality and to fit their needs,” said Li. “Cosmetic brands should consider incorporating these other touchpoints in their plans for next years’ Singles’ Day event to maximize their engagement and sales”

According to Nielsen, when focusing on e-commerce sites, China’s leading business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sites, such as Tmall, JD or YHD, are still the main marketplaces for the cosmetics category, with some sites seeing higher conversion rates due to lower prices. “The high concentration of major shopping sites for cosmetic brands indicates that compared with consumer-to-consumer channels, online cosmetic shoppers prefer B2C shopping sites for betterquality and trusted products.” said Li. “In this regard, a better integration of various channels and an emphasis on giving authorization to leading B2C shopping sites will help generate more sales for the cosmetics category.”

According to Nielsen research, Weibo remains the most valuable social media site for both manufacturers and retailers with regard to resonating and engaging with potential online shoppers and assisting in their shopping process. On Nov. 11 specifically, approximately onefourth (24%) of PC-based online shoppers studied turned to Sina Weibo, with an average time spent of 85.5 minutes per person, followed by Qzone, a social networking site under Tencent and Douban, a social community for the experience sharing and communication of social life.

“The best strategy for a brand to effectively engage with its potential consumer and then convert them into buyers can be a combination of the social networking such as Weibo and WeChat, and the review and comments sites like Douban,” said Li. “Weibo is valuable for the brand to spread its promotion activities a lot further in hopes of engaging with more consumers online, while the review and comments sites are important for the brand to further increase its influence and impact through brand-story sharing or recommendations and positive reviews from the current consumers,” Li said.

Search is a Key Part of the Cosmetics Journey

According to Nielsen, Baidu remained the most favorite search engine, with 48 percent of online shoppers visiting it and on average 10 searches per shopper.

Brand name, functions (of the products), shops (to buy) and product effectiveness were the key search words for online cosmetics shoppers.

Facial Mask tops as Most-Favored Sub-Category

Within the cosmetics category, Nielsen information shows the facial mask category is the most popular with 92 percent of online shoppers putting it into their shopping cart, followed by moisturizer (56%), facial cleanser (53%), eye cream (52%) and lip care (33%).

“Facial masks have experienced strong growth this year both online and offline,” said Li. “Offline, the annual total sales of facial masks from October 2012 to September 2013 reached 5 billion yuan, with a year-on-year growth rate of 32 percent.”

Moisturizer tops the list in terms of the average spending of 255 yuan, followed closely by eye creams with 250 yuan. “A mix of products and pipeline focused on middle-and-low prices are likely to attract more online shoppers especially during shopping-spree days when generally speaking consumers are price-sensitive,” said Li.

About the Study
Nielsen’s Whitepaper on Consumer Behavior for Cosmetic Category on November 11 is jointly released by Nielsen and ComRatings and powered by ComRatings’ ShopperScan data from November 11. With an online panel that covers a total of 147,000 PC-based Internet users at home and work balanced to the Chinese online population, Nielsen and ComRatings analyzed the recorded web browsing behavior of nearly 8,000 panelists who browsed, visited or purchased the cosmetic products online on the Singles’ Day. The report is aimed at providing consumer insights for the cosmetic category on November 11, including the consumer profile, shopping behaviors and purchase behaviors.

About Nielsen
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit