As Coronavirus spread through China, there was an accompanying surge in demand for hand sanitizer. This was spurred on by messages from the government, private companies, and celebrities encouraging proper hygiene. This has presented new product opportunities for fast-moving cosmetics companies.
As a side effect of using hand sanitizer with at least 75% alcohol, per government recommendations, a new term began trending on the Chinese internet. Alcohol hand (酒精手) describes the skin problems – primarily dryness and flaking – that coincide with using hand sanitizers.
Innovative Sanitizers Promise More Moisture
Addressing this problem directly, cosmetics brands have begun selling their own gel and cream hand sanitizers that promise to be softer on the skin and to add back lost moisture. They have been aided by the government’s relaxation of production permit standards, intended to help companies ramp up manufacturing of these high-demand products more quickly.
Brands including CHANDO (自然堂), One Leaf (一叶子), Biohyalux (润百颜), and Spring Summer (春夏) have already received production permits and either will or have already begun marketing new products. CHANDO’s new sanitizer with the wholly unambiguous name Alcohol Hand Repair (修护酒精手) includes moisturizing ingredients such as vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, glycerol. As of late March, it has already sold nearly 25,000 units online, making it the top seller among these new products. Spring Summer was in second place, selling upward of 17,000 units.
“This shift in behavior and added attention to hygiene is likely to be long-lasting,” said Holly Kim, head of MeasureChina’s data business. “With the Coronavirus outbreak, people have seen firsthand the importance of proper hygiene for their health and livelihoods. We see this as a turning point in terms of general awareness of hygiene in China.”
Public and Private Campaigns Raise Awareness of Hygiene
Those firsthand experiences are reinforced by messages from China’s National Health Commission (国家卫生健康委员会), which has distributed official guidelines on how to wash hands and use hand sanitizers effectively. Tencent’s Weesee video streaming platform also hosted the first National Hand Washing Challenge (全民洗手舞挑战赛) and Tencent hosted the even more entertaining University Hand Washing Dance Challenge (高校洗手舞接力赛). Together these challenges drew more than 58.4 million viewers.
“Up to now, moisturizing hand sanitizers were a niche, seasonal product sold only when cold weather led to chapped hands,” Kim said. “Now we see these becoming a staple product that people buy year-round to protect their skin and stay healthy.”