Sensory Evaluation of Skin Care Products in China: The Market Opportunity

The Market Opportunity

China’s cosmetic industry has been growing the recent years rapidly and expects further growth: in 2014 the total retail sales of skin care products and makeup products in China accounted for 21 billion RMB, whereas estimations forecast the number to reach 142 billion RMB. The rising disposable income and changes in consumers’ spending habits, as well as the increasing online distribution and cross-border sales, are just a few reasons for that phenomenon. Market research has shown, the new Chinese generation prefers imported cosmetic brands from Europe, the US, and Japan which implies a huge opportunity for foreign businesses. Especially, men’s products experienced strong growth and the demand for quality and premium products is rising.

Case Study: Cosmetics industry in China

Our client, a European cosmetics company, sought to enter the Chinese market with skin care products. As Chinese consumers have a different hair and skin type, they also perceive the effect of cosmetics differently. Our client’s objective, therefore, was to investigate the end-results by long-term usage of their goods. Thus, the company approached Daxue Consulting to perform a descriptive sensory evaluation in China.

Daxue Consulting’s Expertise conducting Sensory Research in China

Daxue Consulting created a five-step process to reach the client’s goal. Our research team planned a tailor-made project to analyze the cosmetic market in China and to evaluate the effectiveness and the sensory feedback from highly trained panelists towards the skin care products. The project comprised the following steps:

Phase 1: Recruitment, Training & Quality Control

As a first step, Daxue’s consulting team invited 300 panelists having the characteristics according to the client’s products’ requirements about age, gender, and skin type. To ensure the quality of the panel and to have reliable participants, our team created a questionnaire and interviewed each of them before the actual start of the project. Moreover, as for product effectiveness panelists need to be trained, Daxue Consulting performed several training sessions with them. Finally, to ensure the quality of the assessors, our team carried out a validation testing to confirm that the panelists understood the test evaluation procedure.

Phase 2: Full-scale sensory analysis

The sensory research applies the principles of experimental design and statistical analysis to human senses to assess the perception, liking or disliking of products’ attributes. The evaluation comprises a broad range of different methodologies. However, Daxue Consulting applied, in this case, Home Usability Testing (HUT), which means highly trained panelists had to perform the test at their homes. After ensuring the best level of equipment needed, our team carried out a small-scale pilot test. The next two months the daily workflow throughout the description of the testing protocol – developed and designed by Daxue’s specialists – comprised the following:

Finally, the first and last day of using was compared visually, and the quality check and data analysis could begin.

Phase 3: Quality check & data analysis

According to Daxue Consulting’s project leader in sensory research, Tatiana Kuzmina, to be able to carry out accurate data analysis it is crucial to qualify with statistician experts, such as Evelyn Chen, our specialist in Sensometrics. With that know-how, the team could analyze data with different sophisticated software and scientific formulas to be able to calculate the level of errors and finally receive reliable results, which has been the third phase of the project.

Phase 5: Final report & recommendations

After analyzing all the obtained data, our team visually prepared sensory maps and provided a comprehensive presentation about the products’ long-term effectiveness, including hydration, lifting, or skin lightening effects. Moreover, Daxue Consulting provided extensive information about particular skin care product attributes, such as softness, oiliness, or stickiness. Our team provided an outline about results toward attributes, and preferences toward observed results.

Daxue Consulting has accomplished various sensory research projects in different industries including F&B, or textile as well as various sensory projects concerning packaging.

Click here to get more information about how Daxue’s team is conducting sensory analysis in China.