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Essence or Serum? What do Chinese Consumers Call Them?

Posted by MeasureCommerce

Same Chinese Word for Essence and Serum

Initially popular in K-beauty skincare routines, "essence" could be seen as a "serum" variant. However, the boundary between an "essence" and a "serum" could be blurry and this is more so for Chinese consumers. In the Chinese language where foreign words are not usually phonetically transcribed, differentiating the two is not an easy task as both are officially called "精华" (jīng huá). 


Texture Indicator Words

Certain brands might add texture indictor words such as "水" (shuǐ | water) at the end of "精华" (jīng huá) to identity the more watery and light essence products. Some might use "乳" (rǔ | lotion) for the ticker textured serum products. But remember: there is no universally adopted naming convention and different brands have their own rules.


Product Nicknames More Commonly Used

To avoid confusion, many Chinese consumers prefer calling products by unique three-character nicknames for easier reference and memorization. Local and global brands have also started giving their products nicknames as official Chinese names could be long and obfuscate.


SK-II's Pitera essence has long been widely known by consumers as "神仙水" (shén xiān shuǐ), literally meaning the "Immortal Water" for its perceived amazing skincare benefits. Some products are nicknamed after the shape or color, including "小棕瓶" (xiǎo zōng píng) or the "Little Brown Bottle" for Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair, and "红腰子" (hóng yāo zi) or the "Red Waist" for Shiseido's Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate.   👉  More nicknames of hot products in China 



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