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Natural Ingredients and Multipurpose Items Dominate Thai Beauty Show

The future is looking good for beauty products across Asia according to exhibitors at this year's Beyond Beauty ASEAN event, with market growth and an appetite for natural and multi-function products all driving consumer demand.

Photo: Looking good: Cosmetic sales across the ASEAN bloc are now worth more than US$17 billion per annum.
Looking good: Cosmetic sales across the ASEAN bloc are now worth more than US$17 billion per annum.
Photo: Looking good: Cosmetic sales across the ASEAN bloc are now worth more than US$17 billion per annum.
Looking good: Cosmetic sales across the ASEAN bloc are now worth more than US$17 billion per annum.

The atmosphere was decidedly bustling and upbeat at this year's Beyond Beauty ASEAN exhibition. Indeed, despite the ongoing economic challenges to the global economy, many exhibitors seemed to have good reason to be enthusiastic. Worldwide sales of beauty products enjoyed 5% growth in 2014, reaching a total of US$465 billion. According to Euromonitor International, the Asia Pacific region accounted for 29% of this total, with ASEAN sales alone valued at $17 billion.

Speaking at the event, Pintusorn Thongtan, Sales Manager for Bangkok-based Ryn Spa Products, maintained there is now a growing market for safe, natural and eco-conscious beauty products within the Asia Pacific region. She said: "More and more people are now taking the time to inspect the list of ingredients in beauty products. That's why we put such an emphasis on the fact that our products don't contain certain chemicals, such as sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate and parabens. Instead, we use organically grown ingredients from pure plant oils and extracts."

She also believes consumers are increasingly keen to know exactly what goes into the products they use, saying: "Customers are becoming more concerned about the harmful effects of certain chemicals that are often found in sub-standard beauty products. Many, though, still don't fully understand what their drawbacks are. In our spas, we educate our customers as to the importance and benefits of natural, organic ingredients. This also helps us position ourselves as a premium brand and justifies just why our products are worth the price."

Another company priding itself on its use of more exotic ingredients is New Zealand's Antipodes, with the company having won several awards for a product range that contains manuka honey, mamaku black fern, pohutukawa and kowhai leaf. Explaining the company's philosophy, Sales Manager Kate Luo said: "More people now understand that what they put on their skin is actually absorbed into the body. That is why we put an emphasis on using only sustainably-sourced organic ingredients that are local to New Zealand. We don't just pay lip service to being 'natural', we conduct extensive tests in order to come up with premium natural skincare products that have scientifically-approved formulas."

Flying the flag for Myanmar at this year's event was Shwe Pyi Nann, apparently the country's leading producer of thanaka. A traditional skincare product long popular with Burmese consumers, thanaka is now finding a ready market in neighbouring Thailand.

Commenting on the growing demand for its cosmetic paste, Htet Oo, the company's Import and Export Manager, said: "People in Thailand are demanding organic products that contain safe and natural ingredients, as well as products that have been sustainably-sourced. As we harvest our own thanaka plants, we know the source of all of our ingredients. We also know the impact that our agricultural and production processes have on the environment."

Another emerging trend has been the growth in demand for multi-purpose products. David Chang, President of Arcos Bio-Tech Corporation, a Taiwan-based OEM manufacturer of cosmetics and cosmeceuticals, said: "These days people don't just want a moisturiser. They also want additional benefits, such as sun protection, anti-ageing, whitening and brightening.

Photo: Bangkok Nails: Considering a DIY approach.
Bangkok Nails: Considering a DIY approach.
Photo: Bangkok Nails: Considering a DIY approach.
Bangkok Nails: Considering a DIY approach.
Photo: Thanaka very much: Shwe Pyi Nann.
Thanaka very much: Shwe Pyi Nann.
Photo: Thanaka very much: Shwe Pyi Nann.
Thanaka very much: Shwe Pyi Nann.

"The rise in the disposable income of consumers also usually means that they are leading increasingly active lifestyles. While they still want to look great, they have much less time to spend on grooming and beautifying themselves. This means they require one product to do multiple things, instead of having to buy one for each purpose. These multi-purpose products offer them the time-saving factor they're looking for."

Broadly agreeing, Luo said: "People do want multiple benefits from a single product. For instance, it appeals to many consumers when a cleanser offers a number of additional benefits, such as brightening skin, tackling bacteria and balancing oil production. That's a philosophy we adhere to across our whole product range."

Shwe Pyi Nann, too, has been keen to capitalise on this expectation that products should deliver multiple benefits. Htet said: "Thanaka has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and a high concentration of antioxidants, so our products can satisfy both those needs. Some of our products also improve blood circulation as well as having anti-ageing effects and being suitable for use in aromatherapy."

Crucially, customers are also prepared to pay more for these multi-purpose products. Julian Duijghuisen is the Sales Manager for Bangkok Nails Fashion, a spa chain specialising in nail art products. He said: "The market is certainly moving towards products that offer a range of benefits. This is why more people are now moving away from the old-style chemical nail lacquer.

"Our nail art product offers endless design possibilities. It dries within minutes and prevents nail breakage. It is also non-toxic and lasts for weeks. Such benefits are far more attractive to today's Asian beauty consumers, especially when compared to plain nail lacquer that could only boast a variety of colour options. Even though the latter option is much cheaper, the multiple benefits of the newer product far outweigh the extra cost for many of our customers."

Another trend that's gaining traction in the Asian market is the growing demand for at-home beauty experiences. As modern lifestyles become busier, the need is growing for beauty products that deliver very fast results. Brands, therefore, have a considerable advantage if they are able to harness new technology in order to give people greater personal control over their personal health and beauty needs.

With this very much in mind, Arion Maniatis, Managing Director of Cologne-based BKettner, said: "People are now in a position where they can proactively take care of their own health needs. As information is now far more accessible, people are much more aware about their health. Sometimes they know more than their own doctors.

"People, though, still want to go to salons to be pampered and relax. In light of this, we believe that there's a growing demand for advanced, technology-based personal skincare services that are accessible from home or from anywhere at all really."

Duijghuisen also sees possibilities here. He said: "In Asia, I think women will always want to go to salons to get pampered. Getting their nails done using gels, though, is still not something they can easily do at home.

"Despite this, all the components needed to apply nail gel are small enough to carry. In the near future we may look at the possibility of producing home do-it-yourself kits. It's already catching on in Europe and, while I'm not sure Asia is quite ready for it, we are keeping a close eye on the local market."

Photo: Beyond Beauty ASEAN 2016: Healthy investments and a beautiful return.
Beyond Beauty ASEAN 2016: Healthy investments and a beautiful return.
Photo: Beyond Beauty ASEAN 2016: Healthy investments and a beautiful return.
Beyond Beauty ASEAN 2016: Healthy investments and a beautiful return.

Beyond Beauty ASEAN 2016 took place at Bangkok's IMPACT Exhibition & Convention Centre from 22-24 September. The event was attended by more than 300 Exhibitors from 15 countries.

Geoff de Freitas, Special Correspondent, Bangkok

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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