A visitor checks out cosmetics during the fourth CIIE in Shanghai. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

The COVID-19 pandemic might have adversely impacted many industries, but it has also been a boon for others. Case in point: the beauty sector.

Although the sales of consumer goods in China decreased by 3.9 percent in 2020, retail sales of cosmetics in China saw an annual growth rate of 9.5 percent that year, shared Fabrice Megarbane, president of L'Oreal North Asia Zone and chief executive officer of L'Oreal China, at the fourth China International Import Expo.

The Frenchman pointed out that L'Oreal China had also managed to sustain high growth for the past two years, with its third-quarter sales for this year up 42.8 percent compared to the 2019 figure.

Among the reasons for this growth is consumers spending more time at home and buying more things online, explained Megarbane.

Kose Cosmetics Sales (China) Co, which is attending the expo for the first time, has also witnessed its products flying off the shelves.

"Sales of Kose eye makeup products such as mascaras and liquid eyeliners in 2020 grew 150 percent year-on-year," said Kazuki Shinohara, general manager of Kose Cosmetics Sales (China) Co.

"Since the resumption of work during the pandemic, consumer attention has quickly shifted to eyes, eyebrows and other areas as people's faces are now obscured by masks," he added.

The new norm of having to wear masks has also brought about a surge in cosmetic needs. Shinohara explained that prolonged mask-wearing has resulted in skin problems for some customers, and this has in turn driven sales of products, especially high-end options, that address such issues.

"In the mask economy, sun protection, sensitive skin, and acne prevention and removal have become the new focus of the skincare industry. Consumers are also paying more attention to and preferring products with healthy, natural, and effective ingredients, which is precisely an area which Kose Group specializes in," he said.

With the pandemic preventing many people from traveling, consumers are now spending more time at home and online, and this has subsequently evoked a change in consumption patterns, Shinohara added.

"In the post-pandemic era, consumers are used to spending time on Weibo, WeChat, and Tik Tok. We have found that short video platforms, livestreaming platforms, and other platforms not only provide a more direct form of interaction for beauty KOLs but also facilitate consumers to buy more products," he said.

"Simply put, the pandemic has accelerated the layout of online channels, and it is crucial for companies to calmly anticipate changes in the situation and keep up with the times."

In response to the fact that consumers have become more aware of the importance of environmental issues because of the pandemic, Kose Group will be looking to increase its investment in environmental contribution, product development, human resources, and supply chain management to contribute to the sustainable development of China, added Shinohara.