Chinese cosmetics firms shine in Mideast with New Silk Road drive

DUBAI – Despite increased competition and instability in some Arab countries, Chinese producer of cosmetics and wellness products said the New Silk Road axis provides many opportunities to expand.

At the ongoing 20th edition of the annual Beautyworld Middle East congress, for the first time a Chinese delegation consisting of 30 executives is hosted for the world to learn more about the latest products and trends in lipsticks, make-up, fragrances, haircare and skincare.

Organized by Germany’s fair company Mess Frankfurt, this year’s Beautyworld Middle East, the biggest beauty congress in the region, hosts some 1,368 exhibitors, of which 213 are from China.

Most of them have been participating for many years, like Zuofun Cosmetics from Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, which has nine years of loyalty for the event.

Sales manager Jenny Leng said the fragrance production firm in southern China exports made-in-China perfumes to most countries in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). She added that for Zuofun, China’s New Silk Road and the Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to upgrade trade links between East Asia and Africa via the Middle East, is an immense gift, as the company’s biggest export markets in MEA are Iran, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

“The closer the axis Asia, Middle East and Africa move together in relation to trade and infrastructure projects along the New Silk Road, the better for all, exporters and importers alike,” she said.

According to Euromonitor International, the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), held in 2014 a combined market share of 37 percent of MEA’s $25.5 billion personal care market.

However, Leng added that export to some markets have declined by 30 percent due to instability in some Arab markets. In spite of such challenges, Zuofun would continue to expand. She added that once economic sanctions would be lifted on Iran, exports to the Islamic republic are expected to pick up again.

Ivy Chan, senior overseas marketing executive at Glory Tins Manufactury based in Dongguan city, Guangdong province, said she exhibits for the fourth time at the fair.

“The UAE is not our biggest but the reason why we have been participating here since 2012 is because we meet potential customers from along the New Silk Road. For example Kenya and Nigeria are important markets for us,” Chan said. Glory Tins manufactures packages for cosmetic firms and global consumer brands such as Pfizer, Hello Kitty and Lipton Tea.

“A clear market segmentation is key to win the consumers’ hearts and minds along the New Silk Road,” said Lizhen Lao, export manager at RS Nail, a producer of artificial fingernails from Guangzhou. “In our home market China, we distribute 1,500 different nail colors as Chinese women always try out different styles, but for our clients in the Middle East, 50 colors are sufficient,” Lao said.

Euromonitor said the value of MEA region’s beauty and personal care market would grow by 4.25 percent per year to reach $30 billion by 2018. Arab female visitors to the congress told Xinhua that China enjoys a good reputation in wellbeing products, in particular in wellness based on traditional Chinese medicine and in fragrances.

Zoe Zheng, a sales manager, said her employer Hangzhou Tianshi Packing and Printing based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, was not facing challenges.

“On the contrary, we are expanding pretty fast. This our eighth time we are at the Beautyworld Middle East and eight is a lucky number in China, so we are optimistic to gain many more clients this year,” she said.

Zheng added that Hangzhou Tianshi puts the money where its mouth is. “Europe remains our biggest export market. That is why we run a branch in Germany, in the northern city of Neumunster.”

The 20th edition of the Beautyworld Middle East runs through Thursday, and expects more than 29,000 professional visitors.


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