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Opportunities in the Vietnamese Cosmetics Market: Q&A with Le Chau Giang

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Q: When did Vietnam become a major player in the cosmetics market?
A: I personally think that Vietnam is not yet a major player in the cosmetics market. It is an emerging market with huge potential that has been experiencing impressive growth; growing at a rate of 30% per annum for the past few years, so there is definitely an opportunity for Vietnam to become a major player within Asia.

Q: How do the skin needs of Vietnamese women differ from the rest of the ASEAN market?
A: When people think of Vietnam, they often think of one market. In fact, the market is very fragmented, not only due to huge differences in income but also because of cultural heritage. The established international brands are able to provide products at a range of price points serving the larger market as a whole, whereas domestic brands have a great potential to meet specific needs of consumers.

Q: How does climate/environment play a part in those needs?
A: From north to south, Vietnam is a long country; therefore, it has a range of different climates. The north has four seasons, whereas the south experiences tropical weather that is hot and humid. Consumers in the north generally purchase far more hydrating moisturizers to combat the effects of colder weather, whereas matte products are generally favored in tropical areas, where complexions tend to be oily.

Q: What are some attributes of skin care products that Vietnamese women look for? Are there specific product forms or textures that they like?
A: Like everywhere, women in Vietnam want to look younger and prettier. However, a common challenge that the cosmetic industry faces in most emerging markets including Vietnam is consumers wanting quick efficacy.

Q: How is the market for natural personal care products in Vietnam?
A: The market for natural personal care products in Vietnam is on the rise. Vietnam has an abundance of natural ingredients, such as essential oils and lemongrass, both of which are popular with both Western consumers and domestic consumers.

Q: What are some interesting innovations to come out of the area? Who came up with these innovations?
A: The market is more of a follower than an innovator. However, Vietnam is home to a number of herbal and natural ingredients favored by both Vietnamese and Western consumers, so I do expect to see both foreign companies operating within Vietnam and domestic manufacturers using these ingredients as inspiration for innovation.

Q: What is the regulatory market like in Vietnam? How does that help/hinder the cosmetics industry?
A: Vietnam has implemented the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive and this has made life for the cosmetic industry much easier. While a reduction in tariffs is financially beneficial, technical obstacles being removed also benefits the cosmetic industry, resulting in more collaboration between companies in member states.

Q: Where are some growth opportunities in the Vietnamese skin care market. What do you see on the horizon in this market?
A: The market is still under-developed, so opportunities are present in all segments. More than half of Vietnam’s 90 million people are aged 30 and below, and this demographic tends to favor more sophisticated products and brand names. This will result in local manufacturers spending more money on the research and development of new skin care products, as they look to use their more comprehensive domestic knowledge to gain an advantage over global manufacturers.