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With Southeast Asia’s eCommerce industry growing at an unprecedented rate, Malaysia is one of the countries you should be looking out for if you want to expand your online business in SEA. Many are saying that Malaysia’s hitting an inflection point, which also presents an opportunity for international brands to enter the tiger cub economy.
Health & beauty eCommerce merchants and brands looking to expand into Malaysia have much to look forward to. For one, the numbers in the personal care market are promising. In 2020, the personal care eCommerce market in Malaysia is expected to hit USD 402 million according to Statista. Statista also predicts that the market volume will hit USD 594 million by 2024 with a CAGR of 10.2 per cent for the years of 2020-2024.1
With that said, there are some consumer trends to pay attention to if you aim to target women with your personal care products. We will be covering some key market information and insights you’ll need to know when you’re selling into Malaysia.
While this piece will be covering products like sanitary care, hair removal, and bath products, we have previously covered skincare related and cosmetics related trends in Malaysia. If you’re looking for those, you can find them here:
While Malaysia is known for its cultural diversity, it’s good to know who forms the majority to know how to cater to the average Malaysian.
When it comes to women’s personal care, religion forms the backbone of many Malaysians’ purchasing decisions. The latest census in 2010 shows that Islam is the dominant religion in the country, with 61.3 per cent of its population practicing Islam. The second largest religious group is Buddhism, at 19.8 per cent, followed by Christianity at 9.2 per cent and Hinduism at 6.3 per cent.2 With Islam being the predominant religion in Malaysia, women’s beliefs in what they can and cannot buy are influenced by its teachings.
Most of Malaysia is also urbanised, with its urbanisation percentage standing at 73 per cent.3 This also lines up with Malaysia’s high internet penetration rate (83 per cent)4 and a high user base of eCommerce shoppers (20.3 million eCommerce users in 2020, or 62.9 per cent of user penetration).5
Additionally, 51 per cent of women in Malaysia are in the workforce according to Worldbank’s latest statistics in 2019.6 This segment of consumers have higher spending power and more options in the type of products that they want, which has caused some brands and products to rise in market share.
Thinking of grabbing your share in Malaysia’s women’s personal care eCommerce market? Janio can help you ship your products into the tiger cub economy seamlessly! Contact us to find out how you can get started:
With this background information out of the way, let’s dive into some key insights you’ll need to know if you plan to sell your women’s personal care products into Malaysia.
Malaysia’s hair removal product market is increasingly becoming segmented due to the increasing popularity of different products that target specific areas.
According to Euromonitor, women’s razors and blades are seeing a CAGR of 5.0% in 2017-2018, a growth rate that is much higher than hair removers & bleaches at 1.0% despite razors and blades’ smaller market share of 40.5 per cent in 2017.7 This growth in hair removal products is part of the macro trend of Malaysians becoming increasingly image conscious, as seen in GlobalData’s 2019 report on cosmetics and toiletries.8
Brands like Veet have introduced electric shavers into Malaysia’s market. These sorts of electric shavers are listed on sites like Lazada and Shopee, where consumers would buy and have it imported directly from China or Taiwan.9 For hair removal brands that have yet to enter Malaysia’s market, you could take a leaf out of Veet’s playbook to enter the Malaysian market via eCommerce marketplaces like Lazada and Shopee.
Aside from electric shavers, brands that recently entered like Nair by Church & Dwight provide segmented hair removal products that target specific parts of the body. For instance, removing hair from the upper lip, and underarm hair removal with moisturising cotton seed oil to prevent damage on the skin.10
Aside from Veet and Nair, some popular brands for women’s hair removers include Gillette, Schick, Bic, and The Face Shop. Most of these brands are based outside of Malaysia, which goes in line with Nielsen’s findings that 80% of Malaysian consumers prefer global brands for body care products.11
If you’re selling your hair removal products online for the first time and have suppliers outside Malaysia such as in China or Taiwan, it helps to consider the cross border shipping model. This helps you to test Malaysia’s market without having to invest in a local supply chain within the country.
The deteriorating air quality in urban areas of Malaysia has led to rising numbers of consumers with skin allergies. Thus, a larger number of mass beauty and personal care brands are targeting consumers with sensitive skin, which extends to skincare products too.12 Malaysia is also one of the countries that gets hit by the annual Southeast Asian haze between July and October, causing more consumers to seek out products that are more gentle on their skin.
This is shown by the surge in demand for dermatological bath and shower brands like Derma 365, Physiogel and Cetaphil, the newly launched Dove DermaSeries Body Wash, and Curél.13
The popularity of the products mentioned show that Malaysian consumers for personal care products tend to prefer global brands, which aligns with our previous statement on Nielsen’s findings.14 Many omnichannel retailers also distribute global brands on their storefronts like Watsons, Guardian, and Sephora. But these global brands would also be listed on eCommerce marketplaces in order to have the widest reach in terms of getting Malaysians to shop for bath items.
If you want to ensure that your bath and shower products can be delivered internationally to your customers without a hitch, you’ll need to have the material safety data sheet (MSDS) of your products on hand. On top of that, having a reliable shipping partner who can handle your international deliveries into Malaysia is important for the eCommerce shopping experience.
Alternative means of dealing with feminine hygiene, such as the use of menstrual cups, reusable pads, and tampons, has not caught on with the large majority of Malaysian women.15 Most Malaysian women would stick to using disposable pads despite rising eco-consciousness16 and the knowledge that disposable feminine hygiene products can harm the environment.
For one, the largely Muslim population in Malaysia are not open to using tampons due to their religious beliefs, where a tampon is seen as a tool that could break a woman’s hymen and therefore make her seem “loose” or “wild” from losing her virginity.17 Tampons only held 1.5 per cent of the feminine hygiene market in 2018, compared to sanitary pads (79.5 per cent) and pantyliners (19 per cent). 18
Additionally, while Malaysia’s price sensitive consumers would logically purchase reusable options like menstrual cups and cloth pads, Malaysian consumers are more concerned with the perceived hygiene of using disposable sanitary pads as opposed to reusable options. It’s still taboo to talk about feminine hygiene openly, and the idea that single use pads are more discrete and easy to dispose than reusing pads is pervasive despite the ecological harm that disposable pads can do.19 Until these consumers are educated on the financial and environmental benefits of reusable options, the market for alternative hygiene products would remain negligible.
With that said, overnight pads and winged pantyliners are gaining popularity in Malaysia as women adopt active and healthier lifestyles. Products with features like improved absorbency, scented pads with antibacterial properties, and longer pads will do well in catering to Malaysian women’s preferences.20
If you plan to sell your feminine hygiene products into Malaysia, it helps to know the competition. These are the top 3 brands that hold a market share in women’s hygiene products in 2018:
These brands tend to appeal to the price sensitivity of Malaysian consumers by participating in promotions on eCommerce marketplaces like Lazada and Shopee. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s 2018 study of eCommerce shoppers in Malaysia revealed that 73 per cent of online shoppers prefer to shop online because of the better prices offered from special deals, discount vouchers, festive sales, member privileges, and more.21
Now that you have a glimpse of what Malaysian women are looking for in their products, it’s time to figure out how you can get your women’s personal care products into this tiger cub economy.
If you’re looking to distribute them online, having your products distributed on websites like Sephora and Hermo will ensure that you are targeting the right shoppers. However, general eCommerce sites like Shopee, Lazada, and PGMall also have skin in the game. These websites have a higher number of visitors monthly and also have a dedicated section on the website just for this product category.
On top of that, eCommerce marketplaces like Lazada and Shopee also have mobile apps to keep Malaysian shoppers engaged, especially during shopping seasons. You can find out more about them in our Malaysia’s hottest online shopping seasons article or on our Malaysia country page.
Because of that, listing on these websites and participating on their promotional campaigns will help get your product seen by many online shoppers in Malaysia.
With that said, Malaysians tend to rely on recommendations by online reviews. Vase.ai’s study on Malaysians’ online purchasing behaviour revealed that reviews are a major factor for 71% of Malaysians’ online purchase decisions in 2019.22 So it helps to have a strategy to encourage your consumers to leave a review for your product online.
In order to keep your customers raving about your product online, it’s vital to deliver the best eCommerce experience to your shoppers. To do so, you’ll need a reliable shipping partner who can make the eCommerce fulfilment process as seamless as possible. These shipping partners can take the burden of learning about a country’s customs and regulations off your shoulders so that you can focus on ensuring that your online shop provides the best shopping experience for your customers.
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