It took a long time for some Western cosmetics companies to understand that the Chinese ideal of beauty is pale skin rather than the bronzed suntans favoured by Europeans. Pale skin, along with the long pinkie fingernail, showed you did not have to work in the fields, or even work at all. The focus on beauty and skincare during the Covid lockdown was an important part of the 8.2% growth in imported consumer goods in 2020.

China’s Ministry of Finance and Commerce figures published last week show imports of consumer goods grew 8.2% in 2020. As an interesting counterpoint, overall sales of domestic goods contracted 3.9%. Imported cosmetics was one of the largest components of this growth, with its value rising over 30%.

Shanghai-based marketing analytics firm China Skinny believes that paradoxically, the Covid lockdown is the prime cause of this growth. They say it is unsurprising that demand for imported beauty products has soared over the past 12 months because the normal import channels have dried up.

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