Beauty trends mirror health and wellness practices via investment in new rituals for incremental benefits on top of immediate efficacy.

Additional gains

To unlock long term beauty goals, it’s no longer enough to merely upkeep a consistent skincare routine. Young Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly aware of holistic practices; incorporating nutrition, exercise and sleep as key touchpoints in beauty routines. Consumers have been flooded on social media with health & beauty content covering products and tips, but even with faster releases, established formulations and ingredient innovation, the desire to achieve ‘more’ requires constant adaptation and search for the next thing.

The emergent trend of marginal beauty is about investing in small additional gains to deliver an ‘edge’ – incorporating add-ons to existing daily regimens for incremental benefits over time. This has been largely achieved through supplements and optimizing daily rituals such as higher quality sleep and advanced hydration.

Competitive wealth

As China has systematically nurtured a competitive mindset from education and job placement to partner search and real estate purchasing, the desire to have an ‘edge’ over others is engrained in every aspect of life. While emphasis used to be on external appearance through wearable status symbols, recent focus has shifted inside-out with health becoming a key signifier of status.

Prioritization of an inside-out approach is also reflected in the fast-growing health and wellness industry in China (est. $14.5 billion in 2017) covering everything from the use of mindfulness apps (Now) through to supplement intake (western / traditional Chinese medicine) and the boom in newly opened yoga studios. We’ve observed the belief that “those want to put in the time and money will be able to achieve / maintain the best results.”

New rituals

Recently food and beverage brands have taken it one step further by leaping into the marginal beauty space with new RTD formulations. Coca-Cola has developed a new ‘Wake-up Face’ product line exclusively designed for the China market – drink it before bedtime to wake up with a beautiful glow in the morning. Going even further ‘Skin Knows’ launched a range of meal replacement products focusing nutrition on beauty outcomes and mental acuity. Food for skin is a growing category with brands as Mengniu, Yili and Nissin all launching edible beauty solutions.

Another way women are investing in marginal beauty efforts is through the purchase of in-home non-invasive treatments devices. While cosmetic (micro) surgery and dermatological procedures are becoming more socially accepted, beauticians advice against deploying them at high frequency. Devices and liquids are rapidly being downgraded in intensity and to be marketed as safe-for-home-use solutions for those who want to incorporate this into their beauty regimen. These treatments are add-ons to upgrade regular skincare routines for those who don’t / can’t afford to venture into professional procedures or upkeeping results in between clinic visits.


  • Develop solutions to give women edge in beauty through smaller incremental gains is a growing demands space
  • Create delivery systems that are easy to incorporate into daily rituals and beauty routines motivate trial and purchase
  • Find synergy with existing beauty and wellness efforts will further build out a holistic approach to beauty
  • Opportunities for innovation are in customization and tailoring to match individual skin and lifestyle profiles