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Western Marketplace Increasingly Influenced by Eastern Beauty Products

Posted: November 6, 2012

As international beauty brands from across the globe converge in Thailand for in-cosmetics Asia, Mintel debuted research revealing the economic impact of exports and how the U.K. is leading demand for Thai beauty ingredients.

The Thai beauty sector has grown an impressive 44% in value, from $2.5 billion in 2008 to an estimated $3.6 billion in 2012. And there’s more good news on the horizon. Mintel expects the Thai beauty market to increase by a spectacular 34% to reach $4.8 billion in 2015.

Vivienne Rudd, director of insight, beauty and personal care, at Mintel, said, “We believe 2015 could be a watershed year for the Thai beauty market. The ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] bloc will have achieved some if not most of its milestones in becoming a single economic market, and Thailand is poised to become a more powerful, competitive market. Thai ingredients are already building a following in the West, opening the door for more premium and masstige Thai brands.”

In recent years, beauty products originating in Asia, such as BB creams, have taken the European market by storm. While Asia remains a key market for BB creams, with China claiming 30% of the global market share for new product development in 2011, South Korea at 22% and Japan at 11%, the BB cream craze has moved to the West, where new launches of BB creams rose a significant 330% between January 2011 and September 2012.

“The arrival of BB cream in Western markets is more recent, but European retailers say sales are encouraging thanks to coverage in the beauty and national press whipping up excitement about the product. As a result, we expect to see many more branded and own label BB creams to hit European shelves in the coming year. A similar picture is emerging in the U.S. and will spread to Latin America too," Rudd explained.

Despite their international popularity, BB creams have a different appeal in different territories. For example, moisturizing was the most popular claim in BB cream launches in Europe (95%) in 2011, as opposed to 75% in Asia Pacific. Moreover, anti-aging accounted for 56% of BB creams launches in Europe in 2011, versus 23% in Asia Pacific, and brightening/illuminating accounted for 89% in Europe versus 27% in Asia Pacific (2011). By contrast, the whitening claim in Asia Pacific accounted for 33% of BB creams NPD versus 0% in Europe in 2011.

Moreover, use of botanical and herbal claims in beauty products is driving Western brands to launch new products with exotic extracts from Eastern traditions. Research from Mintel reveals that opportunities remain high for Thai manufacturers using celebrated Thai ingredients in beauty products, both in the West and closer to home.

The traditional Asian holy basil is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in Western beauty products. While India remains the number one country for beauty and personal care products containing holy basil (accounting for 38% of NPD globally in 2011), the U.K. has one of the highest demands for this ingredient. Globally, in 2011 the U.K. sat in third place accounting for 14% of global new product development containing holy basil.

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