In 2018, the Southeast Asian internet economy was worth $72 billion1, and this number is expected to hit $250 billion by 2025. Southeast Asian eCommerce on its own was worth $23 billion in 2018, fuelled by the demand of 120 million eCommerce shoppers throughout the region.
As the largest and one of the fastest-growing markets globally for the beauty and personal care industry, the Asia Pacific region will be a driving force in establishing trends for the foreseeable future. According to a Euromonitor report called Trends in Asian Beauty and Personal Care2, the region currently holds 32% of the global beauty and personal care marketplace.
When we look at what constitutes the beauty and personal care market, we generally include physical products sold such as beauty cosmetics, fragrances and personal care products. Beauty services such as hairdressers, professional products and electric personal care products are however excluded.
Given that Southeast Asia is rapidly expanding with emerging economies such as Indonesia and the Philippines, eCommerce retailers in the beauty and personal care industry might want to target Southeast Asia as well when entering the Asia Pacific region.
Cross-border shipping is a good way to start testing the demand for your products in Southeast Asia because it allows you to ship your products only when there is an order for it. On the contrary, having a local distribution model means you’d have to store inventory in the country before distributing it to your consumers, increasing your inventory exposure risk. This means you risk having insufficient demand to offset inventory storage costs in each country.
However, before you decide to enter the market, it’ll be helpful to better understand the specificities of the Southeast Asian beauty and personal care consumer.
In countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, there has been a notable increase in interest in beauty products among the locals. Social media content, the K-beauty trend, and a rising number of beauty influencers have been attributed as the key reasons for the increase in interest.
For instance, in the Philippines, social media has helped to build awareness and interest in beauty and personal care, particularly among younger consumers. Social influencers and beauty bloggers are also helping to drive growth, with there being a number of local YouTubers who host popular channels with product reviews, demonstrations and tutorials.
As a whole, social media has helped to expose consumers to a wider range of products and treatments. It has also helped to engage more male consumers who are starting to invest in hair and skincare routines after understanding the benefits of proper hair and skincare.
Based on the Euromonitor report on Trends in Asian Beauty and Personal Care, words like “natural” and “cruelty-free” are becoming increasingly important to consumers when purchasing products in recent years. Whether it be to choose more sustainable products or choosing products where chemicals are replaced by natural ingredients, environmentally-friendly and natural beauty and personal care items are on the rise in popularity in Southeast Asia.
In another Euromonitor report specifically looking at Singapore3, it has been stated that consumers in Singapore have become more aware of the dangers of the use of chemicals in beauty and personal care products. When searching for products online, consumers look for keywords such as “natural”, “restore”, and “detox” particularly in skincare and baby products. Similarly, in Thailand, 2018 saw the continuation of the shift towards products with more natural ingredients.
Similarly, according to Euromonitor’s Beauty and Personal Care in Vietnam – Analysis report3, consumers are attracted towards products marketed as “natural” and/or organic, in spite of their normally higher price tags. Bad press and increased public awareness about the possible toxicity and adverse health effects of beauty products containing artificial chemicals has helped this trend gain traction. Therefore, more consumers are choosing herbal and naturally positioned products over their artificial-based counterparts.
Based on Euromonitor’s reports on Singapore and Malaysia3, we’ve seen that in these two countries, beauty and personal care was driven by the flow of new brands that kept the retail scene dynamic and vibrant.
For example, Singaporeans tend to look out for novel products, and their high usage of social media exposes them to international niches and major brands. Newer brands and products that appear more ‘premium’ thus appeal heavily to the locals who are often in search for the next most sophisticated product to use.
On the other hand, premium beauty and personal care players continued their expansion in Malaysia, with the opening of outlets by brands such as Tom Ford Beauty and Estée Lauder.
Mass beauty and personal care brands also continued to be highly active with new product launches in Malaysia. New and innovative products such as Rejoice Perfume Shampoo, the Revlon Photoready Candid colour cosmetics range and Splat toothpaste, continued to drive value growth in beauty and personal care.
To summarise our key findings for the Southeast Asian beauty and personal care market, as a merchant looking to expand your presence in this market, it’ll be good to make use of social media to engage more potential consumers.
To find out a couple of ways to use social media to your advantage, we cover a few ways the biggest marketplaces in Indonesia use social media to market during Q4 in Indonesia. Take note that consumers are now also highly interested in using environmentally-friendly and natural products, and would be looking out for new products that enter the scene.
Now that we’re aware of the general consumer sentiments in Southeast Asia, let’s look at two of the biggest trends in the market.
In Indonesia, the rise of the Korean wave has had a huge impact on the number of Korean beauty brands in Indonesia, and has encouraged consumers to buy into the Korean beauty skincare routine.
One example of the Korean beauty skincare routine is the use of facial sheet masks that usually have moisturising or brightening purposes among others. According to Shopee, facial sheet masks recorded huge volume sales during 2018.
In another example, Daily Vanity asked 2,008 women in Singapore4 about beauty culture and trends that interest them. The results showed that 88% of them were inclined towards Korean beauty culture and trends. This again shows that the Korean wave has made a huge impact on the beauty standards of Southeast Asians, and can be rode on to entice consumers to purchase your products.
Another trend in the Southeast Asian market is the rise of halal products to cater to the large population of Muslim consumers in the region, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
In September 20144, Indonesia passed its Halal Product Certification Bill which requires all products sold in the country to be halal-certified by 2019. This means that if you’re intending to cater to the consumers in Indonesia, your products would have to be halal-certified by law.
While this may seem like a barrier to entry to the Indonesian market, the halal requirement actually poses several opportunities that can be seized. For instance, certain products such as haircare and bodycare for women wearing hijabs4 are still highly in demand.
Anti-perspiration and deodorisation functions for humid conditions are some things that Muslim women look out for, whereas benefits such as hair and body freshening will appeal to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Water-based formulations will grow within the Halal nail polish category and extend to other nail treatment products for Muslims.
For now, skincare is the largest halal sector within Southeast Asia at 31% but haircare and bodycare present opportunities for product innovation.
With this information about the trends in the market, let’s look at the market’s prospects and potential for growth.
According to Euromonitor’s reports on the Philippines and Thailand3, growth for the beauty and personal care industry in these countries is expected to be supported by the country’s strong economic projections and its young and rapidly growing population.
The Philippines’ population is expected to grow by eight million people by 2023, alongside the growth of disposable income and consumer confidence. This allows for an expanding consumer base for beauty and personal care.
In Thailand, the rising affluence of the urban middle class is likely to support a shift towards a wider range of more sophisticated value-added products with higher price tags.
In a similar report about Vietnam3, online platforms in Vietnam are predicted to be the most effective channels for selling beauty and personal care products. Gradual improvement of online purchase methods and higher living standards are two key factors that will contribute to the growth.
Similarly, in the Philippines, internet retailing is likely to become more established as infrastructure improves. Social media will likely remain key to the marketing and promotion of new and existing products.
In Singapore, male beauty is also expected to become established as part of the mainstream, not only in skin care but also in colour cosmetics. Male-specific tone-up cream is expected to gain traction as it requires no specific make-up application skills and could also give men a sense of confidence by achieving a “handsome, young, dandy” look.
In the Philippines, there is likely to be an increase in the number of men purchasing men’s grooming products, with it becoming more socially acceptable for men to invest in their appearance.
According to Euromonitor3, in Southeast Asia where countries receive sunshine all year round, sun care is expected to post strong growth.
In Singapore, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to use sun protection products to shield against air pollution and fine dust particles, as well as to achieve flawless skin. Brand owners’ launches of various options in sun protection, such as sunscreen combined with BB cream or primer, will attract busy urban Singaporeans who seek time-saving products.
In Indonesia, growth in both skin care and sun care is expected to come from higher concern about global warming and the effect of sun exposure on the skin. Furthermore, strong growth in travel is expected to boost sales in sun care.
As a whole, the Southeast Asian beauty and personal care market appears to have a positive outlook in the future. Trends such as the Korean beauty wave and halal products are likely to persist for the next few years, and goods that have organic or natural properties are also gaining traction.
The male market for beauty and personal care is predicted to grow alongside awareness for the importance of suncare products. With rising affluence and a growing population, Southeast Asia remains an attractive region for you to expand your presence in the beauty and personal care market through eCommerce and international eCommerce logistics.
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