Hong Kong - Country Commercial Guide
Cosmetics and Toiletries

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-12-17

Overview

Table 1: Total Market Size for Cosmetics

 

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022 (estimated)

Total Market Size 

3,394

2,471

3,770

5,140

3,998

Total Local Production 

128

134

212

275

292

Total Exports 

3,320

3,911

4,786

5,983

4,953

Total Imports 

6,585

6,248

8,345

10,848

8,659

Imports from the U.S. 

768

741

1,040

1,404

417

Exchange Rate: 1 USD 

7.8

7.8

7.8

7.8

7.8

Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Units: USD million

Data Sources:

Total Local Production: Estimated from industry sources

Total Exports / Total Imports / Imports from U.S.: HK Census & Statistics Department

Chart: Hong Kong’s Cosmetic/Skincare Market Share
Chart: Hong Kong’s Cosmetic/Skincare Market Share

Hong Kong is a dynamic market for cosmetics, toiletries, and skincare products.  It is one of the largest export markets for U.S. companies. Prior to the pandemic and associated travel restrictions, 60 million travelers visited the special administrative region each year.  This gave Hong Kong the advantage of being the ideal platform for brands to launch into Asia, especially China where 44 million Chinese consumers used to cross through its borders annually.  Despite current travel restrictions that drag on Hong Kong’s economy, it is likely to remain an ideal location to launch brands into Asia and especially China.

In 2021, Hong Kong imported a total of US$8.66 billion of cosmetic and skincare products, a decline of 25 percent from the prior year.  This decline was due to COVID-19, as Hong Kong’s border remained closed throughout 2021.  The sector also took a further hit as the government introduced tough social distancing measures during the first and fourth quarters of 2021.  During those measures, beauty salons and spas were not allowed to operate, which caused a 50-60 percent decline in business. 

Imports from the U.S. fell by 70 percent due to higher shipping costs and supply chain disruptions.  Of the major suppliers of beauty products to Hong Kong, Korea is by far the largest, with US$3.52 billion of products sold due to the popularity of Korean entertainment through music, film, and TV dramas.  Besides Korea and the U.S., Japan and France are also major suppliers in this sector.

Although COVID-19 and political changes have affected Hong Kong’s status as a major international city, it is still seen as an attractive place for U.S. brands to expand internationally.  Hong Kong consumers are savvy, discerning, and are willing to pay for high-quality products.  With a growing ageing population, older consumers splurge heavily on expensive anti-ageing and corrective products.

On the other hand, Hong Kong millennials and generation-Z are socially vested in global issues such as climate change and sustainability.  They are less attached to big brands and are more experimental and responsive to products that align well to their personal values and causes.

U.S. companies can take advantage of the openness of Hong Kong’s approach to product entry.  The special administrative region does not require any registration for cosmetic products and U.S. companies do not need to change their product labels to enter the market.  Local distributors are highly experienced in launching products in both Hong Kong and China.  U.S. companies can contact the U.S. Commercial Service for assistance in identifying Hong Kong distributors.  For insights on selling cosmetics to China, please refer to the China Country Commercial Guide.

As Hong Kong is a duty-free port, cosmetics sold in Hong Kong are typically 20-25 percent less expensive than those sold on the mainland.  This price difference, combined with the fact that mainland consumers still perceive Hong Kong as the destination to shop for quality, authentic, and reliable products, will likely maintain the attractiveness of the territory for mainlander purchases.  This is supported by that fact that throughout the pandemic, Chinese consumers continued to buy cosmetics and personal care products through cross-border channels from Hong Kong.  It is not surprising that the industry is looking forward to the return of Chinese mainlanders once travel borders reopen.

For now, in the absence of tourists, the demand for cosmetics, toiletry and skincare products have been primarily domestically driven.  Unable to travel and stuck at home, local consumers spent more on beauty products compared to pre-pandemic times.  To stimulate the economy, the HK government has also given out two rounds of shopping vouchers worth HK$5,000 and HK$10,000 to 6.3 million residents.

Overall, the U.S. cosmetics and toiletry brands are well-perceived, and customers recognize U.S. manufactured goods as innovative, safe, high-quality, and competitively priced.  In this regard, numerous brands have found success in Hong Kong through continuous brand-building activities and advertisements, adaptation of products to local market demands and trends, and entering the market using a good pricing strategy.   Still, the Hong Kong market is very competitive.  As such, appointing a local distributor and working closely with them to promote the brand is essential.  Adapting products to fit local consumer tastes and demands is also vital to succeed in Hong Kong.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Products with the best sales prospects in Hong Kong include: 

  • Complete line of facial products with brightening and anti-aging properties
  • Dermo-skincare products for retail distribution and for distribution to doctors. 
  • Daily-use facial masks, and home spa, home nail and hair coloring kits  
  • Eye make-up such as fake eyelashes and eyelash extension products, and semi-permanent eyebrow make-up, glossy and bold eye shadow colors 
  • Nail colors, nail-care products, soft gel nails gels, and nail-art  
  • Body treatments, slimming treatments, massage, and bath products for use in spas and professional skincare salons  
  • Sun protection products 
  • Skincare that are formulated to combat the effects of exposure to blue light (from exposure to electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and TVs) 
  • Skincare, cosmetic and toiletry products made of organically grown and naturally derived ingredients; also, hypo-allergenic, with low concentrations of fragrance and preservatives. 
  • Skincare products, hair styling products, and grooming products for men 
  • “Maskne” products: for treating acne caused by the wearing of face masks 
  • Hand creams that have powerful moisturizing ingredients  
  • Private labeling /OEM of skincare products and cosmetics for leading chain stores 

Opportunities

Open Regulatory Environment: Numerous international cosmetics brands choose Hong Kong as their first overseas market or to launch new products in Asia, due to Hong Kong’s open regulatory environment as the attraction.  Hong Kong accepts U.S. product labeling, and there is no local mandatory labeling or registration requirements on cosmetics. 

Ecommerce: Retailers have reported a substantial increase in online sales, especially after the outbreak of COVID-19, with local consumers avoiding shopping trips to retail stores.  Top ecommerce sites in Hong Kong include Taobao, Alibaba, HKTVmall, WeChat, JD.com and Amazon

Changes in product mix: During the pandemic, retailers have restructured their product mix to focus on hand sanitizers, hand washing products, and home-care personal care product kits.  Also, with more time to view content during quarantine, consumers became more interested in actionable information, delivered through make-up or skincare tutorials, rather than new product launches.  

 Macau tourism: Many of the mega and luxury casino resorts in Macau that have opened in the past few years feature facilities such as spas and skincare treatment centers for casino customers and MICE visitors.  Since COVID-19, Chinese tourists are exempted from quarantine under the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) In 2021, Macau recorded 7.05 million visitors, an improvement from 5.9 million from 2020.  While the numbers are still below from pre-COVID, Chinese visitors are major buyers of skincare and cosmetic products at major casino resorts’ shopping malls.

Resources

Trade Shows: 

Cosmoprof-Asia

This is Asia’s largest, most comprehensive, and international beauty industry trade show featuring equipment, products (skin care, cosmetics, personal care products, nail products, perfumes and toiletries, cosmetic raw materials), packaging, and training services in the beauty industry, including for hairdressing, spas, beauty, and skincare salons.  Due to travel restrictions in Hong Kong and China, Cosmoprof- Asia was moved to Singapore for 2022.

Associations:

The Cosmetic & Perfumery Association of Hong Kong Ltd.

A listing of the Association’s members comprising contact details of importers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers is available at this website.

For more information about this industry sector, please contact:

U.S. Commercial Service, Hong Kong

Natalie Tong, Commercial Specialist

Email: Natalie.Tong@trade.gov