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A Japanese intern's discoveries about Vietnamese cosmetic market

Hello, my name is Hanako, an internship student from Japan who has been in Vietnam for 3 month. Since I came to Vietnam, I am surprised at the gaps between what I thought the country was and the actual situation. What amazed as well as interested me was FMCG market, where the market is growing rapidly as GDP increases. This time, I would like to talk about the cosmetic market, especially in terms of the differences from Japan and Vietnam.

A Japanese intern's discoveries about Vietnamese cosmetic market

A shop with so many bright colour makeup items

First of all, I noticed the concept of “beauty” in Vietnam and Japan is different, which results in the dissimilar way of make-ups between these two countries. The typical beauty icon in Vietnam are those who has a straight long hair with sharp make-ups, which are seen in celebrities such as Mỹ Tâm or Hồ Ngọc Hà.The impression that I have perceived by looking at them are “sexy and a little strong”. This is in contrast with Japanese who prefers to have a natural and soft makeup styles as seen by the celebs of Yui Aragaki, Haruka Ayase and Haruka Igawa. Also, the difference can be found in the hair styles. I see few Vietnamese with short hair. In downtown, the fashionable ladies often have long straight hair with bright colour lipsticks. Thus, the cosmetic stores in Vietnam feature strong red colors mainly, which is rare in my country.

The second difference is the cost to spend on cosmetics. The survey in our company has proved that the average spending of the female over 20’s are 140K VND ($7 USD). This is lower than the cosmetic spending of high school girls of Japan, who spend more than $10 USD in average. Of course the difference comes from the difference of monthly income. Although the income are on the increase, it is not high enough for average Vietnamese to spend big on cosmetics.

The channel is different as well. In Japan, the major channels are the drug stores and department stores. In Vietnam, on the other hand, there are a variety of options including supermarkets, local market and also the online. I also know some who buys cosmetics overseas. Vietnamese choose where to buy depending on their budget and brands they choose. The department store is not that common for most of them except for the rich due to the cost.

A Japanese intern's discoveries about Vietnamese cosmetic market

A shop with so many bright colour makeup items

At last, I would like to mention about the dominant popularity of Korean brands. Korean brands are the ones that Vietnamese are associated due to the strong influences of Korean entertainment. This is not the only reason, however, and they accelerate their sales by the affordable price range that most Vietnamese youth could reach. The popular brands among Vietnamese are THEFACESHOP, ETUDE HOUSE, SKIN FOOOD, or ESSANCE. They are aggressive on promotions as well. I sometimes see the lucky draws to win such things as motor bikes, K-pop artists calendars. Also “buy-one-get-one-free” is the common promotions of them. Those promotions have pushed Vietnamese, who are a little hesitant due to their limited budget, to buy their products.

I am also interested in cosmetics and those differences make my interests in Vietnamese market even more. At the same time, these differences make me realize the economic differences of both countries. I feel that Vietnam market is on the rapid increase but the different approach is necessary to win their hearts.


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