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Latin America Emerges as a Real Beauty

Contact Author Mary Tabion, Euromonitor International
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  • Latin American countries that were battered by the global recession are projected to stage a robust recovery.
  • Fragrances and skin care are projected to remain the engines of growth in Latin America through 2014.
  • Women in Latin America tend to begin purchasing antiaging products in their 30s.
  • With much of Latin America’s population under 14, brands should reap the benefits of the new Latin American attitude toward regular use of sun protection.

Having weathered the global economic crisis of 2008–2009, Latin America is quickly emerging as an attractive market for expansion—particularly as beauty companies find opportunities for growth in North America, Western Europe and Japan to be more limited. Globally, beauty sales are expected to gain 12% through 2014. Latin American sales, in contrast, are on pace to surge ahead 22%.

Latin America, like the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, has a growing middle income demographic to bolster demand for consumer goods, including beauty. Furthermore, beauty brand owners operating in Latin America are keeping pace with global trends and catering to a consumer base that is increasingly better informed about the latest innovations in ingredients, antiaging and product safety.

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Fragrances and skin care are projected to remain the engines of growth in Latin America through 2014, with mass brands figuring heavily in the product mix. Fragrance retail sales are forecast to rise 34% by 2014, outpacing overall industry growth of 22%. Affordable fragrances continue to be an indulgence for many consumers when big ticket purchases are out of reach. Direct sellers across the region have been working to retool their fragrance lines to include designer and teen-inspired scents alongside classic best sellers in order to remain relevant to consumers making aspirational purchases. Avon continues to be at the forefront of designer fragrances, teaming up with Ungaro and Christian Lacroix and celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon. While these fragrances may not be top sellers in Latin America, they serve to build prestige and reinforce a company’s image of offering an international brand. Belcorp’s Cyzone brand courts young Latinas through a beauty and fragrance line designed just for teens within the social networking space by offering an online community with forums for discussing relationships, health, fashion and music, as well as a presence on Facebook and YouTube.

Similar trends can be observed in skin care, where brands are segmenting their product lines in order to target a range of price points and skin care concerns. Most brands have a baseline skin care program that cleanses, tones and moisturizes, but are increasingly offering acne treatment regiments or multiple levels of antiaging products for a variety of age ranges, as well as intensive therapy products for addressing signs of stress or fatigue. Across all price points, skin care lines are assembling arsenals against the onslaught of time with the same weapons: antioxidants, coenzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, proteins and fruit acids and extracts.

Interestingly, Euromonitor’s discussions with leading skin care brands indicate that women in Latin America tend to begin purchasing antiaging products in their 30s. With this in mind, brands are working to reach out to women while still in their teens and 20s through their acne treatment and basic skin care lines in order to establish a client base for the future, as women’s incomes and beauty-related expenditures rise.

Other Notable Categories

Sun care and depilatories are two other categories also notable in their forecast performance. While not traditionally a large market globally for sun protection, consumers in Latin America have become better educated about the links between sun exposure and skin damage, such as wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer. Color cosmetics and skin care products are increasingly formulated with sun protection ingredients and are clearly labeled with the corresponding SPF.

Historically sun protection products tended to be relegated to tourists and affluent consumers. Younger Latin Americans, however, are more likely to use sunscreens when lounging on the beach, skiing or working outdoors for extended periods of time. The new generation of parents is particularly vigilant, slathering high-SPF sun products on their children to prevent future skin problems. With much of Latin America’s population under the age of 14, brands should reap the benefits of this new attitude toward regular use of sun protection.

Country by Country

Looking at the beauty industry on a country-by-country basis, Brazil, Peru and Colombia lead the pack in retail sales growth. Positive economic outlooks in these markets rely on a number of indicators, including disposable income, and are behind the optimism surrounding these markets. Brazil, the largest market for beauty and personal care in South America, is on track to add an additional 28% in retail sales by 2014; Peru and Colombia can expect rises of 26% and 20%.

Countries that were battered by the global recession are projected to stage a robust recovery. Mexico’s beauty sales were hammered in 2009, and fell by 12% as exports and remittances plunged, leaving consumers cash-strapped for food and household necessities. By 2014, Mexico will have recouped these losses, with retail sales rising by 11% barring a double-dip recession. Even Venezuela, a country that suffered a sharp decline in disposable income in 2009 as oil prices dropped, has rosy prospects. The strong beauty culture in this nation explains the resilience of cosmetics, fragrances and personal care even in the toughest economic conditions. Retail sales in this market are forecast to rise 15%.

Mary Tabion is a research manager at Euromonitor International.