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The business of beauty in Nigeria is, on the whole, potentially lucrative. The country’s population, which is currently estimated to be well over 170 million, presents great opportunities for investors in the beauty and personal care industry. A large section of its teeming population is young and places great value on looking good. Demand for skin care, oral care and hair treatment products, makeup and fragrances from a growing middle class has also soared. This trend is expected to continue in the next few decades, despite constraints such as complicated distribution networks, insufficient or unavailable standards specifications, and general production and marketing constraints.

Nigeria’s beauty industry is vibrant and expanding. There has been a sustained growth in the sector despite economic challenges, even as population and cultural changes tend in directions which favour market expansion.

Available data shows that sales in the beauty and personal care sector were worth about $595 million (₦178 billion by current exchange rate valuation) in 2011. This represented an increase from the 2006 figure of $439.8 million. A detailed examination of product trends reveals that bath and shower products sold were valued at $240 million; skin care accounted for $88 million of the industry’s revenue, and hair care racked in $79 million, all in 2011. The colour cosmetics market was worth $26.2 million in the same year.

Although Nigeria’s economy grew at a slower pace in 2015, there is evidence that the industry expanded. This may be attributed to population growth and urbanisation, as well as increased awareness about skin care, oral care and colour cosmetics. These products recorded the highest growth percentages. There was a slowdown in the sector in 2015, but the underlying fundamentals appear to remain stable.

Skin care and oral care both grew by 11 percent in the previous year, bolstered by an increased interest in oral health and an ever expanding population of urban women consumers.

Nigeria’s population is expected to surpass the 200 million mark by 2020. Projections for the beauty industry which factor in the rising number of women in the workforce, smarter social media campaigns and an increasing level of sophistication among Nigeria’s youth foretell an even bigger patronage for personal care products in the near future.

INDUSTRY COMPETITIVENESS Competition has grown stiff over the years. The Nigerian cosmetics market is dominated by a few large well-known companies which account for a larger fraction of the market share. Numerous smaller companies also play a part in the jostling for consumer loyalty and patronage. There is also a mixture of local and foreign participation in the space for beauty products. Pricing is a major issue for Nigerian consumers. But reputation also matters, as a guarantee of quality may go some way towards compensating for higher prices in the mind of many a Nigerian buyer. Companies recognise this, and the larger ones present their brands as possessing the economies of scale, the trustworthiness brought about by years of presence in the marketplace, and the knowledge of customer’s preferences this advantage confers. Advertising is, of course, a strategy employed by beauty industry giants and small players alike. Traditional media offers a familiar platform for pushing their brands, but so does new media. Web-based advertisement campaigns have become more relevant because a growing number of people use the internet. The online frontier is now indispensable for any business seeking to make itself known. Social media, in particular, plays a big role here.

OPPORTUNITIES The attractiveness of personal care related businesses stems primarily from Nigeria’s large population. Going by the 2006 population census figures and growth trends since then, at least 35 percent of the population is aged between 15 and 34. This is the portion of the potential customer base for beauty products that drives much of the demand in this sector. As Nigerians become more sophisticated and the middle class grows, demand for a greater variety of options for skin care, nail polish, fragrances and hair improvement products rises. Although there are a number of recent entrants into the market which seek to cater for these needs, there is still a lot of room for others to have a go at the expanding market for these sorts of things.

CHALLENGES There are problems with production costs arising especially from energy generation challenges. Although depots exist for the distribution of several companies’ goods, the distribution network is still, generally speaking, unorganised and complicated. Obstacles include poor road networks and organisational inefficiency. The market is very competitive, and unless the new businesses enter with a clear, problem-solving model of service provision, they are unlikely to last for long. The lack of clear quality standards is another major challenge. The existence of intense competition in this industry calls for more regulation.

In conclusion, the beauty and personal care industry in Nigeria is growing fast. At the moment, it is Africa’s second largest. Notwithstanding the challenges mentioned in this report, opportunities abound for more participants in established markets and the exploitation of new niches.


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This article was first published on 22nd June 2016


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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