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By: Jamie Ko

When it comes to skin care, beauty bloggers or You Tubers are dominating the space with reviews of and usage advice for electric facial cleansers like Clarisonic and VisaPure. These beauty opinion leaders claim widely that electric facial cleansers help to remove dead skin cells, clean pores and maintain skin condition more effectively than manual face washing. Coupled with the desire for better skin is active viral marketing in the internet domain, the product is a rising star that companies are looking to invest and compete in.

A potential big star in personal care appliances

Consumers are increasingly willing to spend on pampering their body and skin, a reflection of how big and fast the beauty market is growing globally. By 2019, global skin care sales are forecast to reach US$131 billion.

The consumer appliances market will be impacted by this potential shift in cleaning preferences. Among all consumer appliances, other personal care appliances will post the highest volume growth with a 14.8% CAGR over 2014-2019. There are several products included within this category, such as electric facial cleaners, facial saunas and foot spas – by and large all grooming products. The other consumer appliances that are showing the next fastest volume growth are robotic vacuum cleaners, light fryers, and air purifiers – products that are offering either new technology or are positively affected by current health trends. If the popularity of traditional appliances grew due to the needs of the family or a group of people in the household, electric facial cleansers is markedly different, as the product is solely for individual use. Within other personal care appliances, electrical facial cleansers is definitely the star performer and its popularity is a result of the combined demands for new technology and people’s own, individual skin care regimes.

As previously mentioned in a podcast, electric facial cleansers are endorsed and promoted as being effective in function and cost, as compared to manual skin care washing or going to a spa for professional services. Competition is heating up as more companies are jumping on the bandwagon. At this point, we can say that two major brands are leading the market: L’Oréal Groupe’s Clarisonic and Koninklijke Philips NV’s VisaPure, which are from beauty and appliance companies, respectively. Both these cleansing devices offer similar functions, such as automatic cleansing cycle with timer programme, varying spin speeds, different brush heads for varying skin types, and how effectively they can manage skin radiance. Other than these two companies, Clinique Laboratories, Conair Corp, Hitachi Mary Kay Inc, Hitachi Ltd and Amore Pacific Corp are also actively marketing their own products.

Clairsonic-etc

source: www.philips.com, www.clairsonic.com , www.clinique.com, www.conair.com

Despite the similarity in function and product positioning, there are significant differences in how the products from the appliance and beauty companies, respectively, are distributed. Clarisonic, for example, is sold prominently through beauty specialists like Sephora or department stores, targeting consumers who are looking to purchase skin care products. In department stores, Clarisonic is displayed with Lancôme in the US and Vichy in Canada. In contrast, products from appliance companies are found more commonly at electronic and appliances specialists and in the appliances aisles of hypermarkets with other consumer appliances. That said, most electric facial cleaners are brands that are present widely via internet retailing and enjoy good sales as they are considered light, portable and not too risky to buy.

So much to grow and invest in

As the product is still new to the rest of the global market, its current popularity comes mainly from the developed markets such as North America, Northeast Asia and Europe. With a product price point that goes from US$50 to over US$200per unit, manufacturers are positioning it as a premium product. Beyond North America, manufacturers increasingly have their eyes set on product penetration in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. Their main target is to expand into these developed markets first, where consumer sophistication is inherent, before investing further in emerging markets. Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East and Africa are perceived as well-positioned markets for mass-market skin care, while the luxury beauty segment is not massive, except in countries like the United Arab Emirates, with their high disposable incomes.

In terms of brand positioning, both Clarisonic and VisaPure have men’s grooming products: Clarisonic for Men and VisaPure Men. Although men’s grooming is much smaller, manufacturers believe it will be a growing niche, especially in Asia Pacific.

Manufacturers’ ultimate goal is to establish a brand as representative of the product as well as to make consumers purchase replacement brushes to gain brand loyalty. It is recommended that users replace the brushes every two to three months, and, in turn, repeated purchases are intended to help build brand loyalty. However, with more brands expected to enter the market, manufacturers need to ensure that there is visible differentiation among brands to prompt consumers to pay a price premium, ie investment in technology and proving the effectiveness of the product in ending or alleviating skin conditions. Given that most companies are likely to go down the same route in terms of marketing, ie product endorsement by accredited dermatologists and labs, it could mean that reviews by actual consumers through social media, and not paid postings, could be more crucial in attracting potential consumers.

Popularity will grow at a fast pace

It is still an early stage for electric facial cleansers in the product lifecycle, with product availability currently limited only to certain regions. That said, growth is expected to be highly promising in the next five years, as previously mentioned, with more companies expected to enter, invest in improving product performance and, in turn, increase availability and awareness in emerging countries.

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