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Navigating Market Entry Points for Africa's Beauty Industry

Published March 10, 2024
Published March 10, 2024
Natalia Blauth via Unsplash

As the beauty industry continues to expand globally, there's a growing interest in tapping into the vast potential of the market in Africa. In navigating market entry strategies, it's crucial to comprehend the diversity within the African beauty market. With a population exceeding 1.3 billion people across 54 countries, the beauty preferences, cultural nuances, and purchasing power vary significantly. Countries like Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa have become prominent players and significant entry points for new and existing brands, while others like Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal, and Tanzania are starting to gain traction.

Recent statistics have highlighted the promising growth of the African beauty and personal care market. According to industry reports, the market is projected to reach $65.93 billion by 2024, with skincare and personal care experiencing substantial demand. Locally, the revenue generated in the Nigerian Beauty and Personal Care market, which is the largest, is projected to reach $9.71 billion in 2024, $7.02 billion for the Egyptian beauty market, and $4.33 billion for South Africa.

Market Audience

Penetrating the African beauty market requires a strategic approach. For starters, potential customers and their pocket sizes need to be considered. Because Africa is a mosaic of traditions with each influencing beauty ideals and practices, navigating its entry point means catering to its dynamic and multifaceted consumer base. To thrive, local brands with a deep understanding of their consumers and market audience would gain traction.

Another crucial consideration is the varying spending power of the African consumers. For example, affordability would become a pivotal factor in product accessibility, making brands that recognize the diverse landscape and offer a range of products that cater to the different pocket sizes,  positioned for success.

Manufacturing and Distribution

Building successes like this and entering  the industry demands a strategic and culturally informed approach to manufacturing and distribution. Embracing localized manufacturing and deploying a diverse distribution strategy are key elements. “Our test products are currently being made in the UK, but since we’re looking to launch in South Africa, we would be working with manufacturers there,” Eniye Okah, founder of Nigerian sunscreen brand, Beame, tells BeautyMatter.

The founder revealed to BeautyMatter that due to exchange rates and shipping costs, the sunscreen products—which would be launching this year—could potentially be too expensive for customers if they’re made in the UK. This approach is a stark reminder that understanding the financial implications of entering a market is pivotal for long-term success.

Navigating the African beauty market is not without challenges, and a fluctuating economy is one of them. Ghana’s Mansa Adwoa Richardson remembers that she started her makeup brand, Bareskinn, with a little less than $200 before pivoting to skincare two years later, where she consulted with formulators in both the US and the UK. Right now, such an amount would only go so far. “When consulting for a small batch, you could be looking at nothing less than £1,000 ($1,200),” Richardson says to BeautyMatter. Regulatory complexities, packaging, cultural sensitivities, and logistical hurdles that can pose obstacles, are many other things to consider.

With shipping and taxing, regulations on products and testing standards vary across countries in the continent. In Nigeria, for example, the government ensures that shippers have the Import Duty Report (IDR) numbers and are always quoted on the shipping manifests for all import shipments into the country before such manifests are submitted to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), which supports the collection on taxes. Meanwhile, in Ghana, the tax is computed on the cost, insurance and freight (CIF), which is also paid at the port of entry. An inability to understand the nuances of this could pose a threat and even potentially cause legal issues or product recalls.

However, some of these challenges can be mitigated through thorough, proper research. China’s beauty industry has gained international relevance to the global beauty industry, not only hinging on the manufacturing of skincare but also on the production and exportation of affordable packaging materials used by beauty brands worldwide. According to insights from MarkWide Research, there’s been a growing demand for sustainable packaging as consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of environmental issues, leading to a rising demand for sustainable packaging solutions. As countries like China, the US, and the UK have been emerging as global powerhouses experiencing exponential growth in recent years, their relationship with beauty founders in continents like Africa is fundamental in navigating the dynamics of entry points in the beauty industry.

As countries like Nigeria and South Africa continue to prove to be heavyweights in the continent’s beauty industry, focusing on countries like Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Tanzania presents unique sets of opportunities. These markets, often overlooked, hold untapped potential for beauty brands. Statista notes that in 2024, the Beauty & Personal Care market in Kenya generated a revenue of $2.3 billion, Ethiopia generated a revenue that amounted to $5.13 billion, while Senegal and Tanzania generated $1.1 billion and $3.61 billion respectively. Understanding the market potentials of these regions can set brands apart and create a loyal customer base.

Entering  the African beauty market demands a nuanced understanding of the diverse landscape, coupled with a well-crafted strategy that considers local preferences and challenges. Whether launching a new brand or expanding an existing one, embracing the richness of the African beauty market can lead to substantial growth. By acknowledging the unique characteristics of each country and building meaningful connections, your brand can thrive in this dynamic and vibrant market.


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