Urbanization reshapes beauty retail in Southeast Asia

June 18, 2017
4 min read

The beauty landscape is revolutionizing along with modern consumerism, offering infinite opportunities.

Southeast Asia is a microcosm of business on a global scale, as companies are focusing brand developments and expansions within the region. The beauty landscape is revolutionizing along with modern consumerism, which, in turn, offers infinite opportunities. Digital platforms are emerging within the region that tailor to various market and consumer targets. These new platforms are generating the need for newly designed shopping channels, digital payments, online activities or a hybrid of business models that engage consumers and enhance shopping experience, as well as brand value. Beauty brands, in particular, are leveraging technology to market themselves and their products to a broader consumer audience.

Beauty retailers invest in the region

In Thailand, Japanese beauty retail giants have entered the market and are making plans for expansion. For example, Tsuruha is executing major expansion plans, targeting 1,000 new stores; Matsumoto Kiyoshi has now opened its first store in Bangkok; and Japan’s renowned ranking site and store, @Cosme, will be opening its first store in Bangkok later this year.

In Singapore, Sephora APAC regional headquarters is expanding its developments within the region, subsequently entering markets like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia.

In Vietnam, Guardian Vietnam recently opened its 49th store earlier this year, just six years after the first store opened in 2011. The retailer boasts an extensive number of locally-produced products on store shelves.

In Indonesia, Thai skincare retailer Beauty Community entered the market in 2015. Today, there are nearly 300 stores across Southeast Asia, including three separate brands: Beauty Buffet, Beauty Market and Beauty Cottage.

Riding the waves of technology

Southeast Asia is riding the digital wave as more and more consumers are using the internet for various social media activities and online purchasing. Today, more consumers across Southeast Asia are shopping and making purchases online than they were a year ago, according to Mintel research, supporting a lively eCommerce market.

Indonesia saw the largest year over year increase in the number of consumers who purchased a product online with 41% of Indonesian consumers reporting that they purchased a product online this year, an increase of 14 percentage points over the previous year. In the Philippines, 38% of consumers say they have made an online purchase this year, compared to less than three in 10 in 2016. However, while online shopping is on the rise across the region, plenty of consumers still prefer traditional brick and mortar shopping. In fact, nearly seven in 10 respondents from Malaysia say they shop at a combination of online and offline stores.

As technology and eCommerce continue to evolve, Southeast Asia is moving toward mCommerce (mobile commerce) and consumers are using their phones to browse and buy products on the go. Research indicates that Singapore has the greatest potential for eCommerce businesses in Southeast Asia, and is expected to be worth SGD 7.46 billion by 2025.

What we think

Diverse and connected, Southeast Asia is an amalgamation of the US and China; it drives unique eCommerce and mCommerce businesses to meet varying market and consumer needs and demands. Southeast Asia is certainly a growth market that welcomes new beauty entrants and developments via physical and online stores. eCommerce will continue to grow in the region and beauty brands should leverage technology to increase product sales both on and offline and to better market their brand.


In-Cos Korea Dotmailer BannerArtboard 4Learn more about the beauty opportunities in Southeast Asia during Sharon’s free-to-attend presentation at in-cosmetics Korea on Tuesday 20 June, 14:00-14:45. Attendees should be sure to stop by the Mintel Innovation Zone (Hall C, Booth H40) for interactive product demonstrations with Sharon and Mintel’s team of global beauty analysts.

Sharon is Senior Innovation and Insights Analyst, Beauty and Personal Care at Mintel. Sharon is based in Singapore making her well placed to provide insights and analysis of the beauty and personal care categories to Mintel’s key beauty clients around the region. She has 9 years’ experience in the FMCG industry helping clients to develop their beauty businesses across Asia Pacific. She has accumulated an in-depth understanding of the beauty industry in key Asian markets.

Sharon Kwek
Sharon Kwek

Sharon is a Director of Consulting, Beauty and Personal Care, South APAC, at Mintel. With over 12 years of experience in the FMCG industry, she helps beauty manufacturers, retailers and brands make strategic business decisions across Southeast Asia.

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