Western Marketplace Increasingly Influenced by Eastern Beauty Products

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.

Also in Europe, France is one of the biggest marketplaces for new products with holy basil in the beauty and personal care sector. While its usage was limited back in 2008 (3%), today, France accounts for some 5% of global NPD using the ingredient. In terms of products where holy basil are found, within the global market, a third (33%) of products containing holy basil are for face and neck care, but it is also a popular ingredient in body care and soap bars, with a 14% share respectively. Meanwhile, as many as 9% of new products with the ingredient are found in the hair treatment sector.

And although it has remained a niche ingredient in Europe, another popular Thai ingredient, mangosteen has grown in popularity in the U.K., making the country the second biggest mangosteen market in 2011 globally. In 2011, the U.K. accounted for an 11% share of the global market for mangosteen, and this year to date, the U.K. has already exceeded 2011, accounting for 16% of global NPD.

Furthermore, other traditional Asian ingredients such as shikakai are emerging in Europe. Indeed, the first beauty product containing this ingredient launched in the U.K. in 2012, and in the same way, France and Italy are also beginning to introduce it into their markets, with three and two launches respectively in 2012.

“The growing demand for Thai ingredients in Europe presents a real opportunity for Thai beauty brands from an export perspective. The popularity of the Thai tourist and spa industries, and its reputation as a global cuisine, gives the country’s native ingredients enormous appeal for consumers around the world,” Rudd concluded.


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