Despite the crisis in the economy, the beauty industry is doing quite well in Russia, which remains the 4th largest personal care market in Europe. Clearly, the rise of imported products prices, in the wake of the strong devaluation of the Russian currency in 2014, logically led consumers to shift a part of their purchases to locally produced mass personal care items, but they did not renounce to prestige perfumes and cosmetics, even if they had to cut back on other expenses due.
According to market research firm RBC, "Provided the rubble remains stable and the households’ real income continues to grow, the Russian beauty market will experience a steady growth during the years to come."
The rise of Russian brands
The optimism was clearly visible on the show floor. This year’s edition of InterCHARM hosted more than 980 exhibitors, including 242 international companies and was visited by 69,894 visitors, an increase of 11.3% compared to the previous year.
“The show returned to growth this year, even if some companies have frozen their investments. Furthermore, the crisis had a positive impact on Russian manufacturers and brands which took advantage of the situation and gained market shares. They were also able to grow in terms of quality,” explained the organisers.
In the wake of the Russian rubble devaluation, imports of personal care products decreased in 2015 while the domestic production increased.
"We work mainly with international brands, but the number purely local customers is increasing. There is a real rise of Russian brands," confirms Christian Darsy, Vice President Sales Cosmetic & Household at Fareva, one of the world’s leading subcontractors who operates a plant in Russia and another in Ukraine.
Natura Siberica’s success story is also emblematic of this phenomenon. The Russian natural cosmetics brand now has its own stores in Moscow, Kazan, Surgut, Tuymen, Ryazan, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Novosibirsk and Kyzyl in Russia, as well as in Barcelona (Spain ), Copenhagen (Denmark), Tallinn (Estonia), Tokyo and Yokohama (Japan) and Hong Kong (China) and its products are available in numerous stores in France, Belgium, UK, Germany, China and several other countries.
Green is so trendy
The success of Natura Siberica also illustrates the huge interest of Russian consumers for natural and organic cosmetic products. They are paying an increasing attention to the composition and quality of cosmetic products. As a result, the 2014-2015 crisis did not impact the sales of natural and organic products which continued to grow during this period.
The growth in this segment is explained by the consumers’ increasing attention to their health and by a growing sensitivity to environmental issues. There is also a greater availability of natural and organic cosmetics in bricks-and-mortar beauty retail chains, whether in traditional networks (Rive Gauche now distributes US beauty brand Avalon Organics) or in recently launched dedicated stores such as the Organic Shop chain.
High end niche fragrances on the rise
Since 2013, InterCHARM has devoted a specific exhibiting area to independent perfumery brands. Under the name "La Niche", this area reflects the dynamism of high-end niche perfumery in Russia.
Of course, in Russia as in other countries in the world beauty chain retailers and major international selective brands represent the vast majority of sales. But niche brands hold prominent positions in department stores or in the most upscale points of sale in Moscow and other big cities.
While the economic situation is stabilizing, the strong enthusiasm of Russian consumers for cosmetic products should continue to drive the growth of the market with annual growth forecasts oscillating between 6% and 12% depending on market research agencies. The oral care segment is one of the best performing, although most of the growth will come from key market segments: skin care, hair care, colour cosmetics and fragrances.