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Growth opportunities in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries were identified long ago. For the beauty industry, this meant a shift in focus away from the traditional, maturing markets (predominantly those in North America and Western Europe) and a chance to reach a vast and mostly untapped consumer pool. BRIC countries are characterized by rapid urbanization, large populations with low beauty product usage and emerging middle classes. These countries have come to the fore as world economic hot spots, and are acting as prime contributors to dynamism in the global beauty products industry. With the exception of Russia, BRIC has far outgrown the 4% global growth in beauty 2008–2009, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.
As the most mature BRIC market, Russia was hit far worse by the global recession than the other markets, registering just 5% value growth 2008–2009, under half of the 12% seen from 2007–2008. Consumer trade down to less-expensive brands and cutbacks on non-essentials were among the main reasons for reduced growth in Russian beauty. Whereas cosmetics sales in Brazil and India are typified by sales of mass products, premium cosmetics sales make up a far greater proportion of beauty sales in Russia (accounting for 38% of fragrance sales in 2009, for example, compared to just 6% in Brazil, according to Euromonitor).This left Russia more vulnerable to trade down, and premium was especially hard hit by the downturn. Growth in premium beauty products slid down from 20% during 2006–2007 to 0% 2008–2009.
Sales in both Brazil and India are comprised almost exclusively of mass brands, so trade down has been far less of a possibility. China’s growth in premium beauty products is a more recent development. Its economy was able to withstand the effects of the recession, meaning consumers’ demand for prestige cosmetics was only slightly dampened 2008–2009 (13% value growth) compared to the previous year period (16%).
China is experiencing a mass exodus from its countryside to major cities as the country industrializes. By 2013, China’s urban population is forecast to swell by 200 million people from the level it was at in 2003. This results in very high absolute growth in beauty of more than $10 billion 2009–2014, according to Euromonitor research. Although China’s disposable income levels are set to roughly double 2009–2014, the per capita spend on beauty and personal care will still be just $22 per person per annum in 2014, far lower than the predicted $175 per person in Brazil. This is due to China’s culture of children financially supporting parents in old age, and means that even with a forecast value of $31 billion by 2014, there is much room for China to become the largest beauty market in the world.