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Apr 16, 2001

Sales soar as Asians take a shine to skin-care products

By Deborah Ng

LONG seen as a non-glamorous cousin of the high-profile cosmetics industry, the market for skin-care products in Asia is coming into its own finally.

Good make-up is nothing without a clear complexion to work on, and Asian women are takng the adage to heart. -- JAMES HODSON

And its circle of influence can only widen, say major beauty product industry players, as an old adage takes greater hold in the region: that good make-up is nothing without a clear complexion to work on.

Suppliers and manufacturers of beauty products say demand for skin-care products in Asia is creeping up on demand for cosmetics.

'The skin-care market in Asia is one of the fastest- growing categories in the personal care business,' said Mr Francis Sapienza, sales and marketing manager of Collfan Development.

Collfan is the sole distributor of the water-based skin care range H2O Plus in Singapore.

'Make-up has had a lead primarily because it was introduced into the Asian mindset earlier.

'But now that Asian consumers are becoming more concerned with the effects of the environment on their skin, they are devoting more energy to caring for their skin,' he explained.

Mr Sapienza expects sales for H2O Plus skin-care products in Singapore alone to reach US$1.2 million (S$2.17 million) this year and grow roughly 20 per cent every year.

Another player hooking onto this growing trend is Japanese cosmetics and skin care giant Shiseido, which enjoys double-digit sales growth in Asia currently.

Shiseido hopes to increase sales in Singapore to US$12.5 million by next year, from 1999's turnover of US$7.2 million - tapping into a growing demand for higher-end luxury skin-care products.

At the end of last year, the company launched a range called Cle de Peau Beaute in Singapore, including a lotion which retails at a jaw-dropping $844.60 per bottle.

According to Shiseido's senior manager Florina Wong, an average of 2.5 bottles are sold a day.

'More women are getting sophisticated and seeking top-grade prestige cosmetics and the ultimate in pampering,' she said.

'This demand has resulted in a luxurious beauty and lifestyle industry which is buoyant with new entry of upmarket mega-spas and beauty retreats.'

Avon Products' president and chief operating officer Susan Kropf agreed.

'Asia is a dream growth area, it's the future,' she declared.

According to Avon's own estimates, the Chinese use more skin-care products than anyone else in the world - almost double their usage of makeup and fragrances.

Singapore makes up but a fragment of total demand in Asia, say industry players.

Other hotspots include Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and the Philippines.

According to a cosmetics and toiletries market survey by the consumer market researcher Euromonitor International, the Asia-Pacific countries expected to see the strongest growth by 2004 are:

Taken from,1870,37273-987458340,00.html