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Central Asia: Cosmetics, Culture and Politics

By: Gregory Grishchenko
Posted: March 3, 2011, from the March 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 5 of 5

Expenditure on beauty products remains very modest, as much of the population is still not able to afford expensive, branded products, choosing to purchase locally produced or Russian made products that can be found in any supermarket. Therefore, it is not surprising that the purchase of beauty products is still relatively low. People in rural areas are employed in farming, agriculture or household jobs, and do not typically use beauty products except on very special occasions. In fact, in many rural areas some women still use traditional means of washing their hair with natural oils.

Traditionally, most marriages in region were arranged, however, since 2000, more "love" marriages have taken place, which has encouraged local women to take better care of themselves and their looks, explaining the increase in expenditure on depilatories and other such beauty products.

And with the growing influence of Islam in Central Asia, the market for halal commodities (currently valued at more than $900 billion globally) is growing. The value of halal personal care products, such as lipsticks, non-alcohol fragrances and deodorants in the Middle East is estimated to be worth more than $600 million. Specific demand for halal cosmetics is still very low in Central Asia, however, increased consumer knowledge of the ingredients used in the formulation of such products, the way they are produced and growing income of middle class will support the demand for halal beauty products in Central Asia in coming years.

Additionally, the decline of global economic is not really impacting the Central Asian beauty market to the same extent as other countries, due to the rather close economy of the region. The low gradual growth is expected in the region, mostly correlated to the population growth rate. However, the risk associated with political instability, economic ambiguity and weak infrastructure might impact the pace of consumption development.

Greg Grishchenko is a packaging consultant and independent market and technology specialist based in the U.S. He has carried out extensive research on Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union, and is the author of several reports on the Eastern European packaging, converting and printing sectors. E-mail: ggrishchenko@msn.com.