Do Beauty Devices Have Potential in the Emerging Markets of Asia Pacific?

While consumer appliances for personal care have been present for some time, it is only recently that electric beauty devices have become part of daily beauty routines. Increasing demand for at-home beauty has brought a wide range of electric beauty devices, such as foot spas and facial saunas, to the market. L’Oréal acquired Clarisonic in 2011 to expand its product profile to beauty devices. The category is becoming a new engine for growth in beauty and personal care, garnering attention for its efficacy and novelty. Electric facial cleansers registered over 7 million volume unit sales globally in 2015. In the gadget-loving Asia Pacific, the category achieved remarkable growth of nearly 11,000% in volume between 2010 and 2015, based on Euromonitor International’s latest consumer appliance data.

As discussed in a videocast Electric Facial Cleansers Gaining Popularity in Asia Pacific, the category is well-established in developed markets such as Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. However, with the exception of China, where the consumer base is large, electric facial cleansers is still in an embryonic stage of development in emerging countries. The sales in those countries are currently reliant on wealthy consumers who can afford the comparatively high price. Is it worth manufacturers exploring developing markets? What could be the winning strategy?

Three aspects to understand the market: Features, pricing and distribution

Before answering these questions, it is important to understand the current position of electric facial cleaners in Asia. Euromonitor International analysed 10 electric facial cleanser brands in three major aspects: Features, pricing and distribution. Firstly, we identified which key features are frequently advertised for the 10 electric facial cleanser brands examined. Pricing is based on the average unit price of popular models across Asia. Each brand’s presence in distribution channels, between store-based and non-store based (online) retailing, was also measured in 10 markets in Asia Pacific. Our findings were as follows.

Facial cleansing devices’ claims go beyond deep cleansing. Some of the key words frequently used in advertisements for the devices include deep cleansing, anti-aging, skin tone and sensitive skin. As the first step of daily skin care, beauty companies educate consumers about the effects of lingering dirt and make-up on skin. Emphasis is placed on sophisticated solutions to reduce the appearance of pores and improve skin tone. Companies also offer personalised solutions according to skin type and consumer preference as to the level of cleansing.

10 Major Electric Facial Cleanser Brands by Price Positioning and Distribution


Source: Euromonitor International

The success of Clarisonic has inspired other players to enter the market, intensifying competition across price ranges. The top three brands in Asia Pacific are Clarisonic, Philips and Foreo, and all fall within the premium segment (>US$200), driven by consumers who are willing to pay for high efficacy, regardless of price. People in markets like Japan and South Korea find it cost-effective compared to having professional treatments. Brands in the premium segment have a strong presence in offline channels, including department stores and beauty specialist retailers, and are now focusing to expand distribution to internet retailing. For example, Foreo has opened its T Mall flagship online store and Clarisonic has also pushed its sales through Sephora’s online stores and local online retailing sites.

Interestingly, the second segment following the top three brands encompasses budget models (<US$100), represented by Wavebetter and Danlong. Their low price strategy has quickly gained market share through online channels in emerging countries like China, where many consumers are price-sensitive. Mid-priced brands (US$100 – US$200) currently have a limited presence and availability in Asia Pacific, with consumers either opting for premium alternatives or the most affordable choices – the middle ground, as yet, has no allure of its own.

How to approach emerging markets

Growing interest in improving efficacy of skin care products and replicating spa quality treatment at home can be expected to open up a new segment for manufacturers to develop various beauty devices in Asia Pacific. Pricing is a main factor inhibiting development of the category in emerging markets. Thus, entry level products with basic functions would be a good approach for mass market penetration in emerging countries. Manufactures may consider promoting more sophisticated products in China, Indonesia and Thailand, where disposable incomes are rising fast and premium anti-aging is showing a good performance. In terms of channel strategy, online retailing would be easier to reach out to a wide consumer base. However, in the long term, active engagement with consumers through physical stores will be essential to raise awareness and raise awareness of the technology behind products in emerging countries.