Key Trends in Beauty and Skin Care – How Geography Affects Social Listening

Niraj Sharma |
 02/19/18 |
5 min read

How much does geography affect your social listening insights? Immensely!

Let’s take a look at beauty trends across five distinct global regions to illustrate the importance of understanding regional distinctions in your social analytics.


Consumers in Germany want their skin care products to be natural, organic and vegan – and they don’t mind paying more for them. That’s good news for brands worried they might not be able to compete on price – and bad news for those thinking a lower price is their “in.”

The NetBase Germany Beauty Industry Outlook 2017 Report  also shows that scent is a big theme for this regional audience, along with sustainability, and products that work for the entire family.

Scents produced a strong sentiment, with consumers loving smells that are natural and/or elicit pleasant memories. Anything artificial or loaded with chemicals doesn’t appeal.

German shoppers love to share the products that work for them, making peer review an important part of the equation in reaching them. But don’t think you can convince them with celebrity influencers – they want to hear from “regular” people just like them.


K-Beauty innovations are a hot social media topic among both women (69%) and men (31%). Five countries with Korean-speaking consumers account for 90.7% of the K-Beauty posts:

  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • United States (the only western country in the mix)
  • Indonesia

Export opportunities abound for K-Beauty brands, particularly fruit juice makeup. The citrus scents these products use could be a perfect sell in Japan, where citrus is enormously popular.

YouTube is the primary channel younger consumers – under 25 years – use to communicate about fruit juice makeup. There’s an emotional satisfaction that comes from a sense of uplifting rejuvenation from flavors like orange, peach, strawberry, lemon and cherry.

Love and happiness are the sentiments fruit juice makeup inspires. Celebrity influencers, like TV actress Hyuna, have a strong impact with this audience.

As the NetBase Korea Beauty Industry Outlook 2017 Report shows, TV celebrities also hold sway with older audiences – whose concern is more focused on skin wrinkles, particularly in the forehead.

Of note, Koreans don’t limit skin care to creams and such. They take a more comprehensive approach that includes skin care devices, diet, exercise, spa, and surgical procedures.

Conversations beyond the fruit juice makeup realm take place largely on Twitter, as well as in question-and-answer forums where consumers can root out specific products for specific problems.

There’s a lot of opportunity for brands to dominate in a number of categories – including whitening/sunscreen, anti-wrinkle, and phyto/organic.

But know that rand recognition seems secondary to where products are sold. To that end, Olive Young – a Korean version of Sephora – has consumer trust.


Japanese women are more likely to discuss the symptoms of aging on social media, versus specifically referencing the terms “aging” or “anti-aging.” Terms like “enlarged pores,” “wrinkles,” and “dark spots” are all associated with aging concerns.

Discussion of makeup “not sitting well” is another cloaked aging reference brands can look for.

This type of “coded” conversation also surrounds the whitening category. Brands must learn what consumers mean, so they can properly market their products.

For instant, whitening products are also spoken about indirectly, via symptoms. Though brands may tout their products ability to produce “fair skin,” consumers are more likely to speak of a desire for “brighter skin” or the result of “better sitting makeup.”

It’s important to use social analytics to clarify what your audience is talking about and asking for – and speak to them with their preferred vocabulary.

Scent is another big theme in Japan, as referenced above in the discussion of fruit juice makeup. But scent isn’t always related to fragrance in the perfume sense, but can simply refer to what products smell like.

People will sometimes buy a product just because they like the scent – regardless of the brand or purpose. This is also true of beautiful packaging. The product itself is sometimes secondary.

Unlike Germany, organic and sustainable products are of less concern to Japanese shoppers. This offers an opportunity for organic brands to create brand awareness through education of sustainable benefits.

Twitter and Instagram are the most popular channels for beauty topics. Download the NetBase Japan Beauty Industry Outlook 2017 Report to learn more.

Middle East (ME)

As demand for cosmetics and skin care grow in the Middle East, Western companies are scrambling to take advantage of this region’s potential. ME women are among the highest per capita spenders of these products.

Fragrances – Oud perfumes in particular – are favored by both men and women.

And Halal products are also gaining ground as organic products increase in popularity around the world.

The learning curve for ME women is steep, so big name brands offer easy accessibility. However, bloggers and social influencers are a necessity to this audience, and their expertise is opening ME consumers’ eyes to smaller, newer brands as well.

This is a region where influencers are crucial to your brand’s footprint, but the advice of friends and family also plays a role. Products customized for the ME region are a key factor in differentiating your brand.

According to the NetBase Middle East Beauty Outlook 2017 Report, Twitter is the preferred social channel, followed by Instagram – with 49% of social posts coming from Saudi Arabia alone.

Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

Beauty isn’t limited to makeup and skin care, of course. Fashion is another huge component the NetBase Middle East & North Africa Fashion Outlook 2017 Report breaks down for the MENA region.

One challenge here is finding a place for ecommerce against the one-on-one customer service traditions these consumers value.

Taking a personal approach to customer care, using apps like WhatsApp, for example, is a way to marry both worlds. As is combining ready-to-wear and luxury in a single brand.

Not surprisingly, Millennial Arabic females are active on digital channels for discounted luxury and ready-to-wear fashion. Localization and customization are the key to great awareness – especially in the “glossies” (fashion magazines).

Athleisure retailers also have a huge opportunity if they embrace the modest wear market.

Follow conversations on the two dominant MENA channels, Instagram (64%) and Twitter (31%), to track consumer preferences.

Notes, these preferences are highly influenced by fashion bloggers, fashion magazines, and other consumers.

Sentiment shows a mix of positive emotions, like enjoyment of the MENA shopping experience, but also negative emotions, like concern about Western fashion trends’ impact on MENA modesty standards.

Brands will have to walk this line carefully, and offer this region’s consumers fashion that doesn’t put them at odds with their customs and beliefs.

Focusing on accessories is one way to compromise on that front. In areas like the Gulf region, the UAE and Saudi Arabia where women do not wear Western clothing publicly, luxury handbags and shoes are the way they demonstrate their wealth and status. For men, shoes and watches do the same.

One Size Never Fits All

For global brands, or those on the verge of going global, these five countries make one thing clear: Consumer values and preferences are drastically different from place to place.

Your brand may have a clear point of view, but how you communicate that has to be flexible based on the needs of your consumers in every area in which you sell.

Social listening coupled with sentiment analysis is required to get down to the most important needs and desires of your audience. For that you need social analytics tools that understand the various nuances of the languages and cultures in the regions your brand has a presence.

Be sure you have them so your brand doesn’t get lost in translation and miss an opportunity to enter a new market. And remember – beauty is always personal. Just like your marketing should be.

Want more insights in regions that matter to your brand? Reach out for a customized demo!



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