Recently, Jing Daily attended the Middle East Beauty Conference in London, a gathering of industry insiders that highlighted the burgeoning beauty sector in the Middle East and Africa, which is projected to soar to a remarkable $47 billion by 2027. With a blend of data and expert insights, the event presented a market brimming with potential, yet requiring a nuanced approach that intertwines cultural and strategic acumen.
The conference delved into the multifaceted beauty landscape of the Middle East, with topics ranging from the latest trends driving growth to cultural and consumer particularities.
Notably, the Middle Eastern beauty market benefits from a youthful and tech-savvy demographic, with an average consumer age of just 32. This is especially true in Saudi Arabia, which boasts an 82 percent online content consumption rate — one of the world’s highest. Meanwhile, brands have an array of market entry routes to choose from, including e-commerce, direct-to-consumer platforms, clinics, salons, offline stores, and luxury spas.
A noteworthy trend, “A-beauty” (Arab Beauty), encapsulates the amalgamation of traditional practices with contemporary technology. Crafted with a universal appeal, it mirrors the global impact of K-beauty and C-beauty.
Finding success in the market
Brand protection emerged as a critical theme, with a stark emphasis on registering trademarks in specific categories and navigating risks, including counterfeits and infringements. The counterfeit issue was starkly illustrated with data from the World Customs Organization, revealing that Dubai customs seizures of counterfeit goods surged from 1,900 in 2020 to 1.76 million in 2021.
Success in the market hinges on a focus on distributors, packaging, influencers, and activations, with a caveat regarding the launch of medical-based products, which, due to stringent laws and legislations, can be a particularly complex and lengthy process.
Consumer characteristics in the Middle East, while significantly influenced by the US and the West, underscore the paramount importance of representation and cultural touchpoints. While diversity is vital, it may not hold the zenith position in marketing strategy as it might in western markets. Instead, influencers, brand identity, and events often take precedence.
In the Arab community, brands that connect to cultural touchpoints, such as referencing the ancient use of coal (kohl) on babies to promote eyelash growth, are likely to resonate more deeply. Such references not only demonstrate a brand’s authentic interest but also its supportive stance toward the market.
Opportunities for C-beauty brands
While Western beauty brands enjoy remarkable popularity in the peninsula, the Middle East could also present a goldmine opportunity for Chinese cosmetics players in the near future.
In 2022, the volume of trade between China and Middle Eastern countries reached $507.15 billion. In fact, China has established strategic partnerships with many countries in the region regarding hard tech, renewable energy, and electric vehicles.
Additionally, China has lifted visa requirements for UAE nationals to boost business and tourism between the two countries; vice versa, Chinese tourists can visit the Gulf visa-free for up to 30 days. The reinforced cultural exchange between the two nations could help Chinese beauty products gain traction in the Middle East.
With a blend of strategic market entry, robust brand protection, and culturally resonant marketing, Chinese and global brands alike can navigate the region’s lucrative beauty industry and captivate the Middle Eastern consumer.
Additional reporting by Sadie Bargeron and Lisa Nan.