With a population of 86 million – over half aged under 30 – Vietnam in particular is an attractive market for cosmetic companies. In fact, according to business advice service Vietnam Net, approximately 90% of cosmetics sold in the country are imported. The country’s largest foreign players are South Korea (30%), the EU (23%), Japan (17%), Thailand (13%) and the US (10%), according to 2006 estimates from the US Commercial Service. Ngo Minh Phuong from the US Commercial Service in Vietnam points out: “Although the share by each player may be slightly different [than the 2006 figures given] the ranking is the same and [South] Korea is still clearly the predominant player.” According to the Vietnams association’s data, there are 430 leading cosmetics brands on sale in the country which it describe 90 percent as being well know foreign brands. Vietnamese cosmetic sales and demand have steadily increased over the years, and that “a change in government regulations has made it easier for foreign brands to find distributors in Vietnam”. Leading cosmetic company brands such as Revlon, Estée Lauder (including MAC) and Shiseido sell in Vietnam and each year sales expand. This year Japan’s Shiseido further increased its presence by establishing a subsidiary – the Shiseido Cosmetics Vietnam Company Ltd – in early 2010 and opening a Shiseido factory in Dong Nai province in February. According to Phuong one ‘major headache’ for cosmetic companies in the past was the large amount of counterfeit and smuggled personal care products. She cites the example of the US hair care brand Lander. “Lander has no representative or official distributor here but you can buy it at the local supermarket.” In 2006, of the US$82m consumers spent on beauty products in Vietnam, approximately 60% was spent on illicit counterfeit or smuggled products. Although still widely available, fake products are on the decline as legitimate manufacturers distribute more and more products in Vietnam, increasing consumer knowledge. “People here want to buy the legitimate product,” adds Phuong. Meanwhile Vietnamese owned and produced personal care goods have yet to gain significant market share domestically and abroad. Most local brands that do exist target the low end of the market and find it tough to compete with imports from neighbouring countries (illegal and legal). The two main local manufacturers that have had some success are Thorakao (www.thorakaovn.com) and Saigon Cosmetics (www.saigoncosmetic.com), both of which have exported products throughout Asia and further afield to the Middle East and the US. They have to hold their own, notably against Thai exports, manufactured in a country significantly more economically developed than Vietnam.
Market in Asean,
Better Way (Thailand), the country's leading single-level direct-sales Cosmetics Company, is increasing its efforts to penetrate further into Asean with Indonesia in its sights, but might not use its Mistine cosmetics brand there. The company also plans to build a second factory in Burma in a joint venture with Saha Group. The company will allocate about 100 million baht, excluding factory cost, to establish its foothold in Indonesia, but might introduce another brand. "Our Mistine brand is known by consumers only in Thailand. In Indonesia, nobody knows our brand. So it's quite useless to promote Mistine in the market," he said. Indonesia is attractive to foreign companies as the government there has a policy to support and encourage their investment. "We will be more proactive in expanding our direct-selling network in Asean to cope with the open-trade environment within the region, when the Asean Economic Community is in full swing in 2015. We have just opened our international...