The African cosmetics market: underestimate it at your peril

The African cosmetics market: underestimate it at your peril

When you think of a booming cosmetics market, you don’t automatically think of Africa. But if recent data is anything to go by, underestimate the continent at your peril. Indeed, the cosmetics market is witnessing a surge, with consumers seemingly paying more attention to their beauty routines and, as such, manufacturers and brands are starting to take notice. With the global personal care industry valued at $400 billion, Africa represents a 3 per cent share of this, and there is money to be made.

As reported by the BBC, consumer spending on cosmetics is rising in Africa, encouraging players such as L’Oréal and BASF to develop their presence within the country. Talking to the site, Marketa Havlik-Liebenberg, L’Oréal South Africa, noted that not only does it have labs within the country, it has its own factory – described as a ‘local manufacturing pod predominately for our African beauty brands.’ While also making international products, African development is at its heart, making region-specific products such as hair relaxers and oils. Havlik-Liebenberg noted that while black African women are notably drawn to body products, the main pull for African women is indeed hair care products. And L’Oréal has played to this in its marketing approach, with campaigns such as The African Queen, which had a ‘multiplicity of styles’ such as sleek, braids, or natural. Cleverly, L’Oréal then segmented its products into the categories to ‘facilitate’ the individual journey of each consumer – nailing the personalization trend at the same time.

But the investment goes way beyond the finished product. European chemicals company BASF has placed such worth on the country that is has recently opened its Application Technology Laboratory for personal care within Nigeria. Located in Lagos, Jean Marc Ricca, Managing Director for BASF West Africa, said of the development, “The expansion of BASF’s operations in West Africa, including the opening of this new Personal Care Application Laboratory, clearly demonstrates BASF’s commitment to West Africa and the confidence we have in Nigeria and the whole region.”

And it seems that this confidence is justified, with companies such as South Africa’s Tiger Brands reporting positive results in the country – the company experienced a 1 percent growth in group revenue for the four months ending 31 January. And while this rise was attributed to overall price inflation and volume growth, according to Reuters Tiger Brands also noted particularly good volume in personal care.

But what is driving this sudden interest in the country, and the rise and rise of personal care products? Well one thing’s for sure, Africa, like the rest of the world, is honing in on organic beauty. According to a report by Euro News, the continent is seeing a “surge of new cosmetics brands using raw materials and traditional techniques to concoct all sorts of creams and soaps.” The secret to success for African skin care entrepreneur Hellen Dause is seemingly in the natural ingredients chosen, such as spices, with many other brands also favouring those that have been indigenous to the country for centuries.

With tourism also being a key driver in the rise in sales, it would seem that the only way is up for the African cosmetics markets. The question now is, which big global player will be the next to embed themselves into the continent to capitalize on this growth? We’ll keep you posted…

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