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Home arrow Marketing Research News arrow Market Research Events News arrow Region Watch: Market segmentation is key to growth in Latin America
Region Watch: Market segmentation is key to growth in Latin America PDF Print E-mail
Written by Euromonitor International   
14 Jul 2008

Region Watch: Market segmentation is key to growth in Latin America 

The Latin American cosmetics and toiletries market is still patchily undeveloped. Many consumers have limited access to branded products, due to an immature retail infrastructure, paving the way for direct selling, which is very popular. The counterfeit market, especially of perfumes, thrives due to lack of market regulation. As economies such as Brazil start to boom, normative retailing trends are emerging.

Extremely diverse markets still hold common trends
The cosmetics and toiletries market in Latin America is exceptionally diverse. A comparison between markets such as Brazil, with its consumer base of 192 million and a booming economy, with markets such as Bolivia, with nine million consumers whose economy is still strongly rural, is hard to make. This fragmentation of consumers is not merely at country level. Most markets are very diverse internally, for example Ecuador, whose consumer base is a patchwork of communities, including native Americans, people of colonial Spanish origin and the descendants of African slaves. Retailing habits are very different. Direct selling in Guatemala is poised to become the leading cosmetics and toiletries channel over the forecast period, while Argentina has become characterised by the spread of chained pharmacies.

However, there are several trends that are generally common to each market. The leading players are typically multinational producers such as Procter & Gamble or Colgate-Palmolive (although local producers are also present, typically at the low end of the market). Consumers throughout the region have been seeking to trade up, as local levels of disposable income have boomed over the review period and retail networks have improved. Consumer response to marketing has been very strong throughout Latin America, especially after multinationals poured money into the region, sensing the strong potential of a market that is still immature in large parts.

Market characterised by dynamic growth
Growth across the region has therefore been extremely positive – the Latin American cosmetics and toiletries market grew by 15% in 2007, compared to global growth of less than 6%, making it the most dynamic region in the world. This growth was largely underpinned by flourishing sales in Latin America's larger markets; cosmetics and toiletries sales improved by 13% in Brazil and by 17% in Argentina; Costa Rica saw growth of 12% while Venezuela saw exponential growth of 29% in 2007.

The development of these markets, in particular, has been driven by greatly improved economies, and the concurrent rise in disposable income. Venezuela, for example, enjoyed strong economic growth driven by high oil prices – the country is a key producer. In addition, the presidential election campaign and increased spending on social programmes improved the purchasing power of the lowest socio-economic groups. This trend has been repeated across the region – even the slowest growing market, Mexico, grew by 5% in 2007 as economic stability started to empower a far wider share of the consumer base.

Key products at variance
Patterns of consumer use across the region were only broadly similar – hair care, for example, was the largest product sector in value terms in the region, generating 27% of market value, but this varied from 15% in Costa Rica to 30% in Peru. Sales of hair care products in Brazil grew by 26% in 2007, compared to 3% in Chile. Regional trends were naturally distorted by patterns of use in large markets such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

Other market sectors were at odds across the region. Fragrance sales accounted for 27% of the Guatemalan market, compared to 11% for Chile. These disparities reflect very different levels of market development across the region. Chile, for example, has a retail network more in line with Western European norms, of urban-based high street retailers and supermarkets, compared to Bolivia where product availability is limited by poverty and ongoing infrastructure. Outdoor markets generated 50% of store-based retail sales in Bolivia, but less than 1% in Chile.

For these reasons, product range is wildly different - dermocosmetics were a key sales generator in Chile in 2007, but were largely absent from the Bolivian market. Although regional trends have seen consumers seeking to trade up, without ongoing macroeconomic growth over the forecast period, much of the potential of the market will not be met.

Retail improvement helps support growth
The development of more stable, normative retail channels over the review period has been one of the key drivers of growth, and will continue to support sales in the future. Most markets have seen significant development – in Mexico, for example, large retailers such as Wal-Mart de México, Controladora Comercial Mexicana, Organización Soriana and Grupo Gigante have all committed themselves to opening new outlets that have improved consumer choice and grown the market. Argentina has seen consumers switch from local stores to chained parapharmacies/drugstores, such as Farmacity, Vantage and Zona Vital in response to their better range of products.

Even less mature markets have seen retail development. Bolivia, Ecuador and Guatemala have all seen booms in direct selling. Large international producers like Avon have taken advantage of the relative absence of chains and driven sales by going directly to the consumer. Retail channels are anticipated to go on improving over the forecast period, with store-based retailing taking a larger share.

Lack of market regulation affects sales
A key trend across the region is the grey market for cosmetics and toiletries goods, which is undercutting sales and brand equity. Many markets suffer from the widespread availability of counterfeits, piracy and parallel trading – the fragrances market in particular suffers from this, as branding is most important here, and is the easiest part of a product to replicate. Some of these products are produced domestically, but the bulk of products appear to be Asian imports.

Undoubtedly, these sales are hurting established cosmetics and toiletries brands, and producers, trade associations and local governments are working to curb the problem. However, law enforcement in the region is under-funded, and control of counterfeit cosmetics and toiletries products is low priority. These problems are typically found in poorer, less stable markets such as Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, but the region is rife with it – even wealthier markets such as Mexico and Brazil are suffering significant incursions into market value.

Forecast remains strong
Despite these difficulties, regional growth is anticipated to remain healthy, with forecast gains of 30% in constant terms over 2007-2012. The market is sufficiently immature to see growth continue. Even if anticipated recession inhibits potential, the improved availability of products and their marketing, thanks to international producers and chained retailers, will drive growth. However, the region has shown itself to be economically unstable in the past, and sustained economic growth will be the key driver of value over the forecast period, empowering more consumers.

For further information on this article please visit the Euromonitor Homepage by clicking here.

Last Updated ( 21 Jan 2009 )
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