China has entered the era of perfume

In China, perfume has become one of the flagship products of Double 11 (Black Friday in China). The younger generation in China is increasing the sales of perfumes, which is good news for French brands…

Perfume in China, a little history

Modern perfume was born in Europe, with the local presence of the nose capable of producing wonderful smells for the perfume industry. In ancient China, perfume also has a strong history, having been brought in by the Wei Dynasty and peaked with the Sui Dynasty and Song Dynasty.

In recent years, China has often been overlooked in relation to the use of perfume in Europe, particularly in France and Russia. Most of the international brands have left this market aside. But what if China was the next market opportunity for perfume?

Consumer Unit Price (PUC) is highest in China

The latest reports show that the Chinese perfume market is growing at a CAGR of 14.9% from 2015 to 2020.

In 2022, perfume sales in China are expected to reach 16.9 billion RMB. Compared to other markets, Chinese perfume consumers are few, but buy at a higher unit consumer price. This consumption behavior is very different from Europe where the rate of concentration of consumption is high, but the unit price of consumption is low (see also aroma foundation).

In China, the fragrance has become the highlight of the annual Double 11. On both e-commerce and offline commerce, distributors and retailers offer perfume collections along with offers. The Chinese government even believes that China is setting up its own olfactory economy. This is why the country supports growing Chinese perfume brands in their development, both locally and abroad.

Next to go: eCommerce is becoming a way of life in China

Growing trend in Chinese perfume market

Young generation is increasing the consumption of perfume

The perfume market is entering a period of rapid growth. A central aspect of this is the youth of consumers, especially Generation Z who love trends and are starting to inject new energy into the fragrance market.

Among them are mainly female users, who are after 85, after 90, after 95 and others are young users. Even post 00 consumers are on the rise. The younger generation is waking up to self-awareness, and the fragrance, with its delicious aroma, represents the tone of refined life, which stimulates the nerves of young people and attracts more and more youth to perfume products. does. They primarily lead the market with non-gender and specific fragrance brands.

commercial perfumes and niche perfumes in china

In China today, consumers of local perfumes come from a generation that seeks individuality in consumption. Major leaders of the perfume industry, such as Dior, Chanel, Armani and Givenchy, are considered “commercial perfumers”.

The Chinese term “commercial perfume brand” describes designer perfumes that suit the tastes of most people and can be easily purchased in most retail channels. The notoriety and success of these brands reached a critical point: “宁愿撞衣,不要撞香”, which means “better to meet people with the same clothes than people with the same smell”, to Chinese consumers.

In China, Generation Z doesn’t want to be like everyone else and is looking for a way to differentiate itself. The main criterion for buying a perfume is not its reputation, but its personality. The less people know about perfume, the more they will buy it. Compared to the homogeneity of international brands, the Chinese are increasingly interested in woody, marine and herbal niche fragrances. International brands from France, Italy and Switzerland remain their favorite countries of origin, but they also enthusiastically buy Chinese perfume brands.

There is fierce competition between local and foreign brands. In general, Chinese perfume brands are known for their poetic and oriental names, which include traditional Chinese herbal fragrances such as jasmine, gardenia, white magnolia and bamboo. Some of them blend the Western and Eastern worlds with the distinctive aromas of ink and incense, sought after by many Chinese consumers.

Strong appeal of perfume samples

Perfume samples have become a trend in the Chinese perfume market. International brands like Creeds and Maison Margiela generate at least 50,000 to 250,000 RMB in sales from their samples alone.

The fact that Chinese perfume samples are a good indicator that buyers are increasingly looking for value for money. Before buying a regular size bottle, Chinese consumers always try to get samples. This local consumer behavior is due to the importance of e-commerce in the sale of perfumes.

When shopping online, Chinese netizens buy many samples to try at home. Based on their choice, they then commit to make the purchase. The consumer journey is different due to local habits and the non-refundable nature of perfumes on Chinese e-commerce platforms.

How can perfume brands grow in China?

1. Understanding the Chinese Perfume Consumer

Most Chinese perfume users, more than half, use perfume daily. Main occasions are weekdays or important times like school outings, where perfumes keep everyone’s name like a social calling card. The scent should represent their own personal style and highlight their unique tastes. Whether you are a marketer, a CEO or a corporate executive, you need to understand your local TA (target audience) and share a unique story about fragrance design and the universe.

2. Promote perfume on social networks

Chinese men and women are likely to buy the same perfume, regardless of the gender listed in your collection. Chinese perfume lovers are no longer bound by the traditional labels of masculine and feminine perfumes. Gender-neutral or unisex fragrances, with blurred gender lines and minimal packaging, are the new hotspots in China.

Social networks in China like WeChat for example are the perfect place to be famous.

At the same time, the popularity of the Chinese culture called Guochao has encouraged perfume brands to use oriental concepts to satisfy Chinese consumers’ search for Chinese ingredients. If you want to better connect with your Chinese audience, you can incorporate tradition into creativity and draw inspiration from traditional Chinese culture. You can implement such campaigns for Chinese festivals such as Chinese New Year.

For example, Bvlgari offers a personalized add-on, the core of which consists of five precious aromatic ingredients. Local consumers can change the order and number of fragrance sprays through any combination of add-ons, thereby introducing a personalized level of flavor.

3. Grow Your Online Reputation With Little Red Book

Little Red Book is an essential social network in China to promote perfumes. You can push KOL content from photos to videos. Microblogging function can encourage users to highlight their shopping experience, offline installation photos, consumer sharing, interaction and communication, essentially for brand promotion. , The main feature to use is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on Little Red Book which uses the right keywords and hashtags to show up on users’ feeds.

4. Offer samples to your Tmall store

Among the various e-commerce platforms in China, Tmall is the main platform where Chinese perfume consumers shop. Before jumping on this platform, you need to register your store and go through Tmall’s audit process. We recommend that you open a Tmall Global store instead of a Tmall store to avoid product registration, which can be complicated in China. You can also benefit from Tmall’s logistics partner, which can handle “dangerous goods” containing alcohol, such as perfumes. A Tmall partner can help you register your store, from setup to design and management.

Next to go: Tmall, the (almost) essential platform for Chinese e-commerce

If you want to increase traffic to your official flagship store, you need to showcase your Chinese assortment including sample product pages. The sample registration and logistics process is different from normal products.


Therefore to enter the market, it is advisable to focus on educational campaigns, which are less abstract than those that can be seen in France, then to develop your online sales network. These campaigns work well. Also note that as new consumers, the Chinese are reluctant to wear strong fragrances.

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