Young women drive Indian cosmetics

Related tags Cosmetics

Women between the age of 15 and 24 in India are currently providing
the backbone to significant growth in the cosmetics industry,
reports Simon Pitman.

According to Datamonitor's​ ConsumerGraphics database, despite representing only 19.4 per cent of the female population, Indian women aged between 15 and 24 years accounted for 29.8 per cent of all Indian make-up sales during 2003. These teenagers and young adults spent a total of $19 billion on cosmetics.

In 2003, the Indian market for make-up was worth $64 billion. But at the same Datamonitor also points out that the consumption of make-up varies a lot according to different age groups as well as gender, with male usage of cosmetic products being so small as to be negligible.

Despite accounting for 10.6 per cent of the total population, the over 55s age group still accounts for an even smaller proportion of the market at 8 per cent. This figure is similar to that of the under 14s age group, which one would expect to be low, at 7.7 per cent.

By contrast, over 55s in the US account for easily the greatest proportion of their domestic make-up market at almost a quarter. Datamonitor says that this could be attributed to the low make-up usage of the Indian over 55 age group. Many see this as being a reflection of the more traditional set of cultural values compared to younger consumers, with older consumers viewing make-up as less appropriate for many occasions.

On the other hand, Indian women between the ages of 15 and 44 years buy more than their expected share of make-up products, although the degree of over-representation decreases with age. For example, those in the 35-44 year old group account for 12.6 per cent of the population and 19.6 per cent of the make-up market, but women aged 15-24 years account for almost a third of the market whilst making up just under a fifth of the population, making this by far the most valuable consumer group for cosmetics companies.

Teenage girls and young women within this group have a particular predilection for eye make-up and nail varnish, accounting 32.1 per cent and 30.5 per cent of these respective categories. This reflects the greater propensity of teenage girls and young women to experiment with different styles and products. Whereas face and lip make-up are often applied as part of a beauty routines that use a limited number of make-up combinations, nail varnishes, eye shadows and mascara lend themselves to frequent and varied style changes.

The future growth in make-up may well be further fuelled by the recent introduction in India of VAT that will serve to reduce the prices of cosmetics. The sales tax that preceded the introduction of VAT meant that taxes on cosmetics could be up to 23.5 per cent, whereas this will now be limited to 12.5 per cent.

Some of the international cosmetics companies that have set up business in India in recent years include direct sellers Avon and Oriflame as well as renowned global players such as L'Oreal, P&G and Revlon entering into the market during the 1990s, when the country's economy opened up to international trade.