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What & why

Released at: 10:31, 05/02/2015 Cosmetic Market

What & why

The results of a recent VET pocket survey indicate that Vietnamese women have a definite preference for Asian cosmetics and that quality is key.

by Nguyen Quynh & Minh Tuyet

VET recently conducted a pocket survey of 50 women in Hanoi in the 20-25 age bracket earning an average of $225 per month, to determine their spending on cosmetics.

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Surprisingly, when asked whether they use Vietnamese cosmetics, 46 per cent of respondents replied “No”. The main reason for not using Vietnamese cosmetics is poor quality, which accounted for 40 per cent of responses. Their lack of prestige was the second most-common reason, at 18 per cent, while unattractive product packaging and “Other” both received 16 per cent of responses.

Although the campaign for “Vietnamese to buy Vietnamese Products” has been underway for five years, only 54 per cent of respondents said they buy Vietnamese cosmetics. For those that do, the products being appropriate to Vietnamese conditions (skin and climate, for example) was the main reason given, accounting for 20 per cent of answers. Cheap price and good quality accounted for 18 and 16 per cent, respectively.

Most of those who answered that they use Vietnamese cosmetics, however, also said that they were not their usual choice. The most commonly used cosmetics are South Korean, Japanese, Thai, and French, receiving 46 per cent, 10 per cent, and 6 per cent (both), respectively. Asian cosmetics are clearly more favored by Vietnamese women, with a total of 62 per cent.

When asked why they buy certain cosmetics there were nine reasons cited by respondents, with the most common being good quality, suitable price, brand name, suitability with Asian skin, and recommendations from acquaintances. 

The presence of natural plant extracts was also an important reason in product selection. Many women consider natural ingredients as a prerequisite in selecting cosmetics because it is safe for skin even though the effects may not be as fast as for chemical cosmetics, according to Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Bich, the owner of German cosmetics shop in Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan district. 

Meanwhile, advertising in the Hallyu (Korean) style, natural products, promotions, and service were less common reasons given by respondents. When asked what the most important criteria were in choosing the cosmetics they currently buy, 86 per cent said good quality while price and brand prestige both received 8 per cent.

Spending habits

Half of respondents said they always bought cosmetics that cost $23 each, while 36 per cent bought products between $23 and $46 and 14 per cent bought individual products costing $46 or more. This spending represents half of respondents spending less than 10 per cent of their income on cosmetics, 36 per cent between 10 and 20 per cent, and 14 per cent over 20 per cent.

Fifty-four per cent of respondents bought lower-priced cosmetics (under VND500,000) while 38 per cent bought mid-priced products (between VND500,000 and VND1 million). Only 8 per cent of respondents bought high-price cosmetics (over VND1 million).

Finally, when asked about the priority they give to buying cosmetics compared to other purchases, 58 per cent replied categorized it as “normal”, meaning they didn’t necessarily need to buy cosmetics and didn’t spend too much when they did. 

Cosmetics have become virtually indispensable for most Vietnamese women aged between 18 and 25, according to the owner of the Mily Cosmetic Shop near the University of Law in Hanoi. “Buying high-grade cosmetics has become a trend among customers over recent years,” she said. Between 10 and 15 customers buy cosmetics on an average day, she said, and sales are particularly strong during autumn and spring.

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