April 23, 2013 2:51 pm

Asian rituals captivate cosmetics groups

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Contestants for the Miss Universe China Pageant practice proper make up application at a training camp in Beijing, China, on Thursday, June 23, 2011. L'Oreal SA, the world's largest cosmetics maker, reported a 0.9 percent rise in second-quarter sales and said it expects to outpace the market in 2011. Demand in Latin America, China and India and for luxury products led the revenue growth, offsetting a 4.9 percent decline in North American sale©Bloomberg

When cosmetics groups’ executives survey the Asian market, it is the Korean woman’s beauty regime that gets them excited.

She spends 30-40 minutes at night on skincare, using 10-11 products. That compares with the typical French woman who uses only three products in 3-10 minutes a night.

The Korean beauty ritual has parallels among other Asian women, so the potential to sell multiple products is higher in Asia than in other regions.

With so many creams and serums layered on the face, their weight and texture has to be lighter than that produced for other parts of the world, says Nicolas Hieronimus, head of L’Oréal’s luxury cosmetics division.

Some 50 per cent of L’Oréal’s Lancôme Asian sales are for products developed specifically for the region.

Some categories – such as whitening creams – do not exist in France, says L’Oréal.

“There is no single model for beauty,” the Paris-based company said of the controversial products, which most of the large international cosmetics groups, including Estée Lauder and Clarins, also sell.

Whitening creams have a penetration rate of 46 per cent among women in China, 78 per cent among urban women in India and only 5 per cent in the US.

L’Oréal says this is because dark spots are the first signs of ageing in Asia, unlike for Caucasian women, who suffer more from wrinkles instead. “There is a genuine demand for whitening products which we respond to by offering products whose function is to eliminate hyper-pigmentation and to even and brighten the skin tone,” said L’Oréal.

Asian women much prefer skincare to the other two beauty categories of fragrances and make-up. Skincare accounts for 63 per cent of the beauty market in Asia, compared with 32 per cent in the US.

For cosmetics groups, that represents an opportunity to develop the market for fragrances and make-up, mainly through advertising. “China will be a three-category market like the rest of the world in years to come,” forecasts Mr Hieronimus.

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