Personal care companies rise to the challenge of Sub-Saharan Africa's diverse consumer needs

Sub-Saharan Africa’s unique beauty markets combine tastes for tradition with international brand purchases. By Samuel Okocha, Ramadhan Rajab, Elias Gebreselassie, Nicola Jenvey and Poorna Rodrigo

The perception of beauty – and therefore the design and supply of personal care products – is slowly changing in sub-Saharan Africa, as increasingly wealthy middle class consumers take a more bespoke approach to how they look.

The region has a widely diversified consumer base, whose varied tastes are pushing brands to rethink personalising cosmetics and personal care products like never before.


Nigeria: A recovering economy

Nigeria is a case in point. Its make-up brands for deeper skin tones, such as Lagos-based House of Tara, founded by Tara Fela-Durotoye, and Ikoyi- based Zaron Cosmetics, "developed by local entrepreneurs for the local market", are a huge success, London-based market intelligence company Euromonitor International analyst Rubab Abdoolla tells Cosmetics Business.

Increasingly, international players have been listening and launching products in sub-Saharan Africa specifically targeting African skin tones.

American brand Estée Lauder's MAC Cosmetics in September launched more than 55 shades of its foundation, with many of these lines focused on African consumers.

Similarly, in September 2016, US-based Procter & Gamble brand Head & Shoulders launched a new hair care range specifically aimed at the ethnic market, Abdoolla notes.

Moreover, the analyst adds that a "notable trend in ethnic hair care is the tailoring of products to address various textures and styling choices" with the sub-Saharan African market a key target for such new lines.

Obviously, the region's "young population and fast-growing economies, coupled with an increasingly tech-savvy population" are fuelling cosmetics sales, according to Abdoolla. And beauty and personal care sales have continued to show elasticity despite the region's sometimes tough economic environment.

For instance, in Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa's largest economy, the colour cosmetics sector . . .

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