L’Oreal targets male beauty, new consumers in MENA, South Asia

A newly created market in the South Asia Pacific and the Middle East will account for most of L’Oreal’s new business for the next decade – men make up a large chunk of that, the French cosmetics giant said.

The combined geographic zone – known internally as SAPMENA – will cover 35 markets in South Asia Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa. Headquartered in Singapore, the new zone is in response to shared consumer trends and growth opportunities, said region president Vismay Sharma.

“This region, or SAPMENA as we call it … will be an important growth engine for us. This is where we will win the most consumers in the next ten years,” he told CNBC on Wednesday.

The move also makes sense demographically, Sharma said. Overall, 40% of the world’s population live in the region, with an average age of 28 years.

“Over 40% of consumers (in the region) are under 25,” he said. “That makes it extremely exciting for us and a very strategic market for the future.”

The 112-year-old company is trying to adapt to changing consumer habits and new markets, despite holding up relatively well during the pandemic. Revenue rose 10.2% in the first quarter of 2021, nearing pre-pandemic levels.

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However, Sharma said the coronavirus crisis boosted certain categories like health and wellness, as well as the demand for sustainable products.

The demand for male cosmetics has also increased recently. Japanese beauty company Shiseido reportedly saw double-digit growth in one of its male makeup lines in 2020 as male consumers became more aware of their looks during pandemic video conferencing.

Sharma said he expected interest in male cosmetics to continue, particularly in the SAPMENA region.

Especially in Asia we can see that men are much more critical about their skin, about the scents they wear, about their hair

Vismay Sharma

President (SAPMENA), L’Oreal

“In the past, men didn’t use enough beauty products – so penetration was much lower, per capita consumption was much lower, and frequency of use was much lower,” he said.

Now, “especially in Asia, we can see that men put a lot more emphasis on their skin, the scents they wear, their hair,” he continued.

“This part is going to be extremely interesting. In terms of growth percentages, we’re seeing significant growth in this part.”

However, in absolute terms, women will remain a significantly larger consumer base of beauty products for some time, he noted.

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