From lip gloss to powder puff, the demand for beauty products is on the rise in Myanmar’s growing consumer market.
Beauty brands from Europe, America and Asia are popping up in salons and beauty stores all over Myanmar as more women seek better skin care and quality cosmetics, experts say.
Since Western countries have rolled back punitive trade and financial sanctions against Myanmar, more and more Western products are reappearing on this Southeast Asian country’s shelves.
Previously, many Western cosmetics were either smuggled across Myanmar’s borders or imported through third parties from countries such as Singapore.
Khine Cindy Soe, an international makeup artist and communications manager for La Source Company, a large local distributor of international beauty products, said that as Myanmar opens up to the world, more prominent international brands are coming onto the market.
“Because our products are very well-known internationally, they’re also famous in our local market,” Ms Soe told M-ZINE+ reporters Ei Ei Su and Kyawt Thiri Nyunt on the sidelines of a recent beauty expo in Yangon.
She described how she persuades the consumers who come to her for suggestions.
“I always request my customers to give me time for the makeup demonstration for their new look. At the same time, I can promote my products and right in a blink of an eye they want to purchase the materials that I have used, because they do wonders for them,” Ms Soe said.
Another new entrant to the market is multinational heavyweight Unilever, which owns more than 400 household brands worldwide, including popular household soap and shampoo labels, Dove, Rexona and Sunsilk, which can all be found on Myanmar’s supermarket shelves.
The UK-listed consumer goods company resumed its distribution operations in Myanmar in 2010 and currently has a representative office. The group, which is the world’s third-largest consumer goods company with a market capitalization of £27.3 billion (US $41 billion) in 2011, also has plans to establish a local company in Myanmar, according to their website.
Well-known French brand, Yves Rocher, has also recently parachuted into Yangon, and Country Manager May Thu Zaw is leading the brand’s launch.
Her company, Annam Group, is the sole distributor for Yves Rocher in Myanmar, and the spa and beauty salon launched in December 2012. However, the reality is that many of these items and services remain financially out of reach for the average Myanmar consumer.