Trends redefining Middle East’s $10-bn+ beauty market


July 24, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

Trends redefining Middle East’s $10-bn+ beauty market

Luxury retailer Chalhoub Group recently launched beauty report titled ‘Decoding the Beauty Consumer in the GCC’ offers a deep understanding of consumer behaviour, preferences and trends in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Covering three main pillars – the definition of beauty standards in the region, consumer purchasing behaviour trends and the top beauty categories GCC consumers are most interested in – the report outlines trends redefining Middle East’s $10-billion-plus beauty market.

The report highlights a shift in beauty perception in the GCC market from European ideals to embracing Arabic beauty and Middle Eastern features. Consumers now prefer lighter cosmetic adjustments that preserve their individual beauty and focus more on internal beauty, encompassing health, wellbeing and self-esteem, which can influence external appearance.

While women in the UAE see themselves as trendsetters with exposure to various brands, Saudi women are highly engaged makeup and fragrance users, drawing inspiration from social media. Kuwaiti women are particularly attentive to social media beauty trends and prioritise maintaining a hydrated and healthy skin appearance.

Taking a closer look at the GCC beauty consumer purchasing behaviour, the report indicates that most beauty categories are driven by female shoppers with an average spend that’s 55% higher than men. While fragrance is an exception – where men tend to shop 20% more frequently and spend 11% more – most beauty categories are predominantly driven by female shoppers. Interestingly, Emirati women exhibit a stronger preference for multi-brand beauty stores, while consumers in KSA are the highest spenders on makeup in the region.

“Beauty market in the Middle East is worth over $10 billion and has since 2020 gone through a major shift becoming today more dynamic than ever,” said Jasmina Banda Chief Strategy Officer at Chalhoub Group. “The primary finding from our study reveals that our consumers associate beauty not solely with physical appearance but also with their overall well-being and inner feelings. This has paved the way for a new generation of brands that prioritise more than just traditional product effectiveness. These brands now extend their focus to encompass the holistic well-being of their customers.”

The report also examined the top beauty categories that GCC consumers are most interested in, revealing that they prefer specific products that are tailored to their skin type rather than generalised products, with moisturizer ranked as the top product with 79% having purchased this product in the past three months, followed by cleanser at 54%. Hydration and improving skin texture are the main reasons for moisturising, while sun protection is considered essential for its wide range of benefits, with 46% having purchased an SPF/sunblock in the past three months.

Makeup is also viewed as an art form that helps consumers enhance their Arabic beauty features. It is associated with both functional and emotional aspects, serving as a means of self-expression, boosting confidence and uplifting moods. Moreover, fragrance plays a pivotal role in Arab culture and is a top category by spend for both male and female consumers. Layering scents throughout the beauty routine, including shower gels, lotions and hair mists is a common practice.

When it comes to preferred purchasing channels, the findings show that 64% of males visit supermarkets most frequently for beauty purchases versus 37% of females. For UAE nationals, beauty stores account for 80% of their offline spend, while in KSA traditional retail is the main purchase channel with 46% of spend share.

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