With profits sliding in Brazil as the economy went into freefall, India rapidly becoming an established market – although several companies continue to explore growth opportunities beyond India’s major cities, and China experiencing a downturn, all eyes are on the next major growth market.
And that appears to be Africa and the Middle East. Last year, the region overtook Latin America as the world’s fastest growing market for beauty and personal care products with a retail value of US$25.7 billion. The region is expected to deliver annual growth of 4.8 percent until 2019, almost double the global average of 2.6 percent.
Indeed, business is booming in the Middle East with beauty-conscious consumers spending big. Saudi Arabia is the biggest market in value terms (US$4.8 billion), according to Euromonitor and is growing rapidly – up 11 percent in 2014 and expected to remain strong between 2015 and 2020. Iran is next (US$3.5 billion), followed by the UAE where consumers pile US$1.4 billion into their appearance, and Egypt (US$1 billion).
No wonder, then, that several brands were keen to get in on the act. UK-based Lush is intends to open 50 new doors across the region over the next three years, while Polish manufacturer Inglot Global Cosmetics has announced plans to open some 220 stores in the GCC region by 2020.
Sao-Paolo-based Fine Cosmeticos has its sights set on Tunisia and Egypt having enjoyed considerable success in more established Middle Eastern markets such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. K-beauty favorite AmorePacific is also keen to establish a presence in the Middle East “The demand for high quality cosmetics is rising in the Middle East,” said Chairman Suh Kyung-Bae. “Unlike the past when people there would shy away from applying make-up, these days there are a lot of people interested in beautification.” The company will enter Dubai in 2016, followed by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran.
Indeed with sanctions lifted, it’s open season on Iran as multinationals rush to get a slice of the action: LVMH-owned Sephora is planning seven perfumeries in the country for 2016.
Africa’s thirst for luxury cosmetics is growing too – local player Ghandour has launched the continent’s first dedicated luxury fragrance in a bid to change the general perception of local brands as somehow inferior to the multinationals. As Tanal Ghandour, Founder and Managing Director of Ghandour Cosmetics puts it: “Everything from the packaging to the branding and advertising of this product will disrupt notions of what it means to be an African brand.”
L’Oréal-owned Maybelline New York launched in Ghana in April, while its stablemate Lancôme entered the East African market for the first time via a deal with the largest distributor and retailer of luxury beauty brands in the region, Lintons Beauty World.
Indeed, the retail landscape is expanding on the continent too, with e-commerce platforms such as Nigerian Podozi rapidly gaining popularity.
Of course, to be successful in Africa involves playing the long game – as Reckitt Benckiser’s CEO Rakesh Kapoor puts it, “Businesses that have a long-term outlook will become very successful because the potential is immense.” PZ Cussons knows that all too well – its struggling Nigerian business has all but wiped out gains made in the UK market.
And several of the big multinationals are willing to put in the leg work – Unilever chief among them. This year, the Anglo-Dutch FMCG company has announced plans for a new €75 million manufacturing plant in Dubai to serve the Middle East and North Africa, invested in infrastructure in East Africa, opened a Sh155 million factory in Kenya and partnered with the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Nigeria.
Henkel, too, has made considerable investment in the region, with US$39 million piled into Egypt-based factories. Croda chose to invest further in the South African market due to rising disposable incomes and growing demand for more sophisticated and solution-orientated products, cutting the ribbon on a new South African testing centre and Dow Chemical has plans to open Angola office.