From Flowers to Skin Toners – The New Way to Say “I Love You”

Valentine’s Day has always been on the 14th of February for most of us, but that’s not the case in China where there are 6 days in a year to celebrate Love, (for example, March 13th is China’s White Valentine’s Day where females are doing the gifting; May 20th is usually celebrated among the millennials; August 8th is called the Qi Xi Festival based on the famous Chinese mythology of two lovers that only get to meet on that day… the list goes on). While it is great to have multiple occasions to celebrate love, I personally hope they do not create too many more as I am running out of memory space to remember each one!

With this said, Chinese women have high expectations from their partners. The pressure is on for most Chinese men to pay close attention and be creative, especially that e-commerce platforms have been aggressively commercializing these dates in the past years through the advent of festival sales and promotions. It’s become a “do or die” kind of situation.

Here at Behaviorally, we’re constantly observing shopper behavior both in online and offline channels. And with the online shopping craze that’s no secret in China, the gifting occasion is strong in our radar. How do Chinese men make decisions? What makes them click that sacred “add to cart” button?

Here’s what we found out:

1. Chinese men are highly receptive all year around. They observe their partner’s WeChat moments to get a feel of the new things they are interested in. They listen to subtle hints from their partner, try to understand when they complain about their skin problems, and check out existing products on their dresser.

 2. Celebrities and influencers play a vital role in their quick purchase decisions. They pay attention to advertisements featuring celebrities that are in the same age group as their significant other. These spokespeople play a good role as a “Social Transmitters” that conditions shoppers to link their positive traits into that product offering. Strong and authentic word of mouth is key here.

3. The budget to be spent on skin care gifts depends on the date itself. Western Valentine’s Day merits grander gestures (hello, heart-shaped gift packs), while they tend to downgrade a little bit during the other occasions and prefer to purchase individual SKUs instead.

 4. Men tend to make decisions quite quickly and while they do conduct some research, it may not be as extensive as compared to their female counterpart. They don’t spend much time on complex price comparisons and don’t necessarily wait for the best price deal. They appreciate it if brands are making it easier for them to decide by highlighting their best-sellers and even linking them to a relatable influencer.

Men have certainly learned to prioritize and compromise through the years. They have mastered the art of occasion gifting and we tip our hats to them and their wallets.

The path to purchase is not a one-way street and involves multiple intersections worthwhile to investigate – it’s a strategic play of utilizing both online and offline communication channels (especially livestreaming that is effective in nudging those impulse purchases), and, most importantly, demands having the right message sent across during those little windows of opportunities.

This is a good learning for different brands whose focus are more skewed towards a certain market to defocus, re-evaluate, and see the bigger picture. We expect this trend to continue to grow in other categories not just skin care.


Kat Lim, is a Director here at Behaviorally with over 8 years of experience in market research and product strategy across various sectors: FMCG, Food & Beverage, Hospitality, Industrial, and Home Retail. She’s most enthusiastic in being able to uncover consumer thinking, finding “a-ha” moments, and translating this into efficient real-life applications that win. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Melvin Ng, is a Senior VP of Marketing Development for Behaviorally Asia. With 20 years research experience, he has worked with clients on the most demanding branding challenges from market entry strategies for new brands coming into Asia or growth plans for established power brands. With a passion for behavioral economics, Melvin loves to get under the skin of consumers and understand why people behave and think the way they do. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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