World tour of beauty trends makes up diverse market

Brands hoping to extend their global reach must recognise the differing “personalities” of regional markets if they are to succeed, writes Susan Harmsworth


The world of beauty is constantly evolving. Yet not all global markets are moving at the same pace, nor do they have the same priorities. Take a tour around the world and differences in disposable incomes, access to information and cultural aesthetics dictate consumer desires and, ultimately, which sectors drive sales.

Touch down in North America and the beauty consumer of youth-obsessed Manhattan and California is on a never-ending quest for increasingly advanced cutting-edge technology. Whether it be gadgets that enhance product penetration and deep cleanse skin or treatments that use the latest lasers, this woman wants solutions-focused beauty and clinical proof, all communicated in hard-hitting language that’s heavily scientific. This is a market of extremes and alongside her regular Botox appointments, blow-dries and the latest power serum to get her skin in peak condition, her make-up palette of choice is either deep berry shades or barely-there neutrals.

Journey south towards the emerging market of Latin America and the emphasis here is on glamour. Surgical intervention is seen as a viable option, even for young women wanting to alter the contours of their face and body. Not for nothing are Brazilian supermodels like Gisele Bündchen known for their long, lustrous locks. So inherent has this look become within this region’s beauty ideal that countries the world over have now adopted the “Brazilian blow-dry” treatment. Exercise and sports, such as beach volleyball, are also part of the way of life in South America and indulgent, post-workout massages, hair removal techniques that keep her fuzz-free year-round plus bold make-up shades that reflect the colours of Rio itself are key market drivers.

The European woman is more measured in her approach to beauty

The European woman is more measured in her approach to beauty. She knows that fast doesn’t always mean better, and is willing to invest time and money in her health as a means of enhancing her outward appearance. The overhaul of traditional clinics, such as the Mayr, satisfy this need, while the increasing number of day spas and salons popping up on high streets deliver the quick manicures and lunchtime facials she requires on a more frequent basis. She loves to treat herself with luxury cosmetics and a palette of warm, radiance-enhancing shades works well for the generally cooler tones of her complexion.

Skip on to the Middle East and there’s been a resurgence in the traditional Hammam to meet this market’s desire for indulgence, plus a renewed focus on medicine and beauty as a result of the rising rates of diabetes and obesity in the region. The keywords here are “prevention” and “maintenance”, and products and treatments dedicated to hair removal, long lashes and nails continue to be popular.

Which brings us to our final destination, China and Japan. Renowned the world over for their innovation in skin care, a surprising new trend here is the growth of the natural, organic and sustainable sectors, particularly in the youth market. Beauty-savvy young women are increasingly concerned with the quality of ingredients and how their products affect the world around them. Make-up that comes in soft, pretty pastels is this season’s latest trend. But whatever the product, to survive in this market, brands must connect with the consumer’s emotions by surrounding their wares in romantic stories and sensual tales of their provenance and benefits.

Whichever continent they find themselves on, this is an exciting time for beauty innovators and those able to adapt to regional differences will not only survive – but thrive.