There are three kinds of hand cleansers in China: regular hand soap, hand sanitizers, and heavy-oil-stain-removing cleanser. Nowadays, people widely use the former two types of hand cleansers in daily life. Notably, the outbreak of COVID-19 stimulated the hand sanitizer market in China. Many companies that did not produce hand sanitizer started to produce it in this particular period.
How hand sanitizer became prevalent in China
Chinese, like westerners, normally use soap to wash hands. However, due to the higher awareness of viruses and bacteria after SARS, Chinese consumers became interested in products that kill viruses. Now, hand sanitizer is commonplace in people’s homes and the public.
Hand sanitizer has been popular in China since the SARS outbreak
Sohu Business reported that people preferred to use soap to wash hands instead of hand sanitizer before SARS. Market research conducted in Beijing, Tianjin, and Wuhan presented that only 47.2% of participants had everheard hand sanitizer before SARS. Most of them were young people. Due to the outbreak of SARS in 2003, the hand sanitizer market in China started to be prominent. All hand sanitizer brands sold their products well. Especially, antibacterial hand sanitizer was attractive. After SARS, the concept of disinfection stayed in people’s minds. People were used to washing hands often. Although hand sanitizer’s sales cannot compare with the purchases during the SARS, the hand sanitizer market in China still performed well.
Prospering hand sanitizer brands in China
IiMedia Ranking issued its top 15 hand sanitizer brands in China in 2020. Dettol is the top hand sanitizer brand in China, but foreign brands do not have majority market share. Only four of them are foreign hand sanitizer brands, and the other 11 are domestic brands. These domestic hand sanitizer brands do not focus on hand sanitizer production and sales. They are usually well-known for cleaning products or disinfection supplies, and hand sanitizer is only one of their production lines. Bluemoon is famous for its laundry detergent in China, and its hand sanitizer sells well because of the brand reputation.
[Source: IiMedia “Top 15 Hand Sanitizer Brands in China 2020”]
Hand sanitizer market in China under the Coronavirus outbreak
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked Chinese interest in hand sanitizer. According to the Baidu index, the search volume of hand sanitizer showed a sharp spike when Coronavirus broke out.
[Source: Baidu Index “Attention on hand sanitizer had a sudden rise in China. Note that 洗手液 (xishouye) is commonly used for both hand sanitizer and hand soap”]
Demand for hand sanitizer soared during the epidemic in China
In this special period, medical experts suggested people wash hands often, causing the demand for hand sanitizer to rise. Suning unveiled that its sales of hand sanitizer surged by 2,315% over the same period last year. Taobao’s sales of hand sanitizer during the pandemic also rose over ten times than before the Spring Festival. Panicked people stockpiled lots of hand sanitizer at home. In a few days, hand sanitizer sold out in all channels. Meanwhile, due to virus control, the slow distribution made people could not get hand sanitizer in time. In various social platforms like Weibo, many people complained that they could not get any hand sanitizer.
[Source: Weibo “People cannot get hand sanitizer during the epidemic”]
How the government and enterprises reacted to increasing demand in the hand sanitizer market in China
Increasing demand resulted in price gouging. Moojing reported that the cost of hand sanitizer increased by 30% over the same period last year in China. Thus, the government declared to control the prices. During the pandemic prevention and control period, the government forbade sellers from driving the price up. Otherwise, authorities would punish the sellers who increased prices. Many companies promised that they would not rise in their prices to fight against the virus.
In addition, many companies opened up new hand sanitizer production lines to support hand sanitizer supplies. National Health Commission hand sanitizer to appear on the market once passing the examination and complement records later. National Medical Products Administration presents that over 700 records of new hand sanitizer products popped up since the outbreak. One leaf, CHANDO are popular skincare brands in China and started to produce hand sanitizer during the pandemic. Amounts of hand sanitizer eased the shortfall. Now, it is easy for people to buy hand sanitizer.
[Source: NMPA “More than 700 new records of hand sanitizer products since the Coronavirus outbreak”]
Evaluations of hand sanitizer are trendy in media
As hand sanitizer became a popular topic since the virus outbreak, more self-media utilized this hot topic to attract views. In Weibo, the hashtag, hand sanitizer evaluations, generated over 360 thousand views. You can also watch hand sanitizer evaluation videos on Bilibili. Phoenix Lab’s video, Ten Regular Hand Sanitizer Evaluation, brought about almost 60 thousand views and 1,077 shares. These evaluations offer scientific knowledge to find the most suitable hand sanitizer for themselves and boost these media’s popularity. It also becomes a tool for merchants to promote their hand sanitizer.
[Source: Bilibili “Ten Regular Hand Sanitizer Evaluation”]
Chinese attitudes towards disposable hand sanitizer has changed
People did not accept disposable hand sanitizer in the past, for it was strange to wash hands without water. Meanwhile, soap was prevalent in China as a cleaning product and cheaper than disposable hand sanitizer. Experts also mentioned that disposable hand sanitizer could not replace common hand soap. Thus, few people chose to buy disposable hand sanitizer. As Coronavirus broke out, people had to pay attention to disinfecting while outside. Disposable hand sanitizer is easy to sterilize and makes are convenient to take outside. Therefore, disposable hand sanitizer acquired substantial attention. According to Data Iceberg, the market shares of disposable hand sanitizer increased by 13.5% in the 2020 Spring Festival. Disposable hand sanitizer occupied 85.4% market shares, and standard hand sanitizer held 14.6% market shares in this Spring Festival.
Hand sanitizer becomes a necessity when traveling
Since the quarantine ended, we cannot let our guard down. On April 29th, CCTV news released a blog to call for people to take hand sanitizer when traveling. Abounding merchants launched small packs of hand sanitizer for travelers’ convenience. Disposable hand sanitizer also benefits people when they cannot get access to water.
[Source: Weibo “Four necessary things when traveling”]
Seize the opportunities from the time
The hand sanitizer market in China gained significant development due to the technological progress and the opportunities in the era. It started from a common hand sanitizer and developed many new products like disposable hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer made great contributions to fight against the epidemic. However, the hand sanitizer market in China showed poor recognition of brands. Although many brands sold well during the pandemic, most of them did not form brand recognition. Companies could seize great opportunities from the time to promote their brands.