The Singapore cosmetics and toiletries retail sector is worth approximately US$400 million based on industry estimates. The U.S., France and Japan continue to be the top three leading suppliers of cosmetics, toiletries and fragrances to Singapore. The U.S. continues to enjoy a good reputation and is recognized by the consumer as one of the leaders in the industry. Its share of the market has stayed fairly constant over the last few years. Brands from Korea, however, are fast gaining popularity as Korean products enjoy high visibility because of Korean soap operas that have recently become popular here.
The beauty business is fairly resilient to economic cycles and continues to thrive in affluent Singapore. Industry sources say that approximately five new brands enter the market each year but this however, does not necessarily translate to a significant growth in the consumer base. To stay relevant, top brands invest heavily on advertising, promotions and marketing as well as research & development. The product life cycles tend to be short and new brands and differentiated products are regularly being introduced to the market. Products are constantly evolving and improved upon to satisfy the needs and wants of the discerning consumer.
The domestic retail market is sophisticated with various market segments, from those with high disposable incomes who seek premium and high-quality products, to mass-market consumers who are more price-sensitive and less loyal to brands. Besides an affluent, local resident population, Singapore is also home to over a million foreigners, with a significant expatriate population that enjoys and demands a high-quality lifestyle.
U.S. companies seeking to expand into the emerging markets of Southeast Asia should consider using Singapore to launch their products and services. With more than 80% of all imports of cosmetics, toiletries and fragrances re-exported, Singapore serves as an ideal gateway into the region and a showcase for the region.
Products that have sunscreen, anti-aging and brightening properties have experienced dynamic growth over the last two years. This is the result of greater awareness of the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays as well as the changing demographics of the population. Increasingly, suncare products are being bundled with regular skin care regimes and sunscreen ingredients are added to facial cream formulations for easy application. Men’s grooming products and deodorants have also expanded and this growth is underpinned by an increasing number of “metrosexuals” – affluent men who are conscious of how they look. Image-conscious women who place high priority on personal grooming and appearance continue to be a good market segment to focus on. There is a trend of adolescent girls starting to apply makeup and experiment with hairstyles and hair care at a younger-age. Recognizing these trends, both traditional retail marketers as well as multi-level marketing firms have increased their market presence as they promote their products under the “holistic and wellness” label, cross-selling cosmetics, hair care, skin care and nutritional supplements.