In his interview on page 22, Tariq Puri, the Chief Executive of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, paid tribute to the ingenuity and resilience of Pakistani exporters in defying the economic odds and finding ever new ways of engineering growth. The same is true about
’s larger business community, as this magazine has constantly been able to report growth in one sector after another despite the generalised gloominess all around, punctuated not only by a feeble investment climate, but now by an energy crisis of mounting proportions. Pakistan
Yet in this issue, as we cover the beauty and personal care category, we see another sector that is showing signs of surging forward. Indeed, when
last covered the category in 2005, the total worth of the market stood at $100 million; today it is worth $400 million (Rs 35 billion), a rather encouraging surge of 300%. The total worldwide worth of the market is $382 billion, and for further context, Aurora China’s worth in this category is $8.5 billion, and in 2009, ’s stood at $6.5 billion. The market in India is led by shampoo followed by skin care products, the latter being dominated by whitening creams. Pakistan
Beauty products have always been marketable commodities in
. The earliest local pioneers in this category were Tibet Snow (Kohinoor Chemicals) and Kala Kola Hair Colour (United Trading Society). In fact, Tibet Snow and Tibet Talcum Powder (both highly prized for their ‘whitening’ properties) have achieved semi iconic status in Pakistan ’s advertising hall of fame, if only for a style of packaging that is reminiscent of a bygone era. Tibet Snow’s current packaging, apart from the brighter colouration, has not changed in any detail from the original packaging, designed by a gentleman called Noor Ahmed in 1953 and titled Face and Hill. Even the blurb on the packaging has not changed: the product is touted as “an ideal after shaving and a perfect powder base.” Pakistan
Although both Tibet and Kala Kola are still going (in fact, they account for fairly hefty market share portions within their audience segments), matters have changed considerably since the days when, apart from locally manufactured products, most beauty brands were either imported or brought back in luggage from abroad, and this not only in terms of the number of brands available but also in their diversity.
Unilever and P&G Pakistan have predictably made the greatest impact, importing or manufacturing quality products which originally targeted a premium market and then slowly but surely penetrated the mass market too. The biggest game changer recently occurred with the launch in 2009 of L’Oréal
, signifying the entry of the first international ‘pure’ beauty company in the country. This is all in line with changing lifestyles in Pakistan . Not only are more women working, they are also earning more. Then there is the whole awareness aspect; that looking good not only changes one’s perspective, but also one’s prospects. There is also the emergent trend in men’s personal care products. Pakistan
L’Oréal’s entry is only the tip of the iceberg; the company has still not deployed its full range of products, concentrating mainly on shampoo, hair dyes and a limited range of skin care brands. Added to this is the fact that L’Oréal also owns a range of other branded products which include consumer brands such as Helena Rubinstein, luxury brands such as Giorgio Armani, Lancôme and Ralph Lauren and active cosmetics such as Vichy and La Roche-Posay, all of which could eventually find a market here in Pakistan, albeit not in the near future.
Again, in this category, as in most other high-end consumer brands, adoption and growth is urban led and is likely to remain so, although rural
is certainly starting to show signs of growth, if only with whitening creams. What seems clear at the moment is that bauty and personal care is set to become one of the drivers of growth in Pakistan . The question is, what will happen to our local brands? And there are plenty in contention. So far most of them are doing well, benefiting as they do from low pricing and limited investment in marketing and packaging. However, there is nothing more personal than beauty and personal care, and international brands with their superior R&D driven quality, packaging and marketing, could eventually (and that is surely their ambition) attract consumer segments that at this point appear to be out of their range. Pakistani companies in the category need to wake up to this now and modernise and revamp their ideas and budgets. It would be a pity indeed if the early entrepreneurship of families such as the Allawallah family of Tibet Snow fame were to be squandered by the complacency of their successors. Pakistani companies engaged in the beauty and personal care category need to show some of their Pakistani ingenuity now. Pakistan
First published in the September-October 2011 issue of Aurora.