Exclusive interview

Hair care in Southeast Asia part 2: Humidity and heat sets hair apart

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Hair care in Southeast Asia part 2: Humidity and heat sets hair apart
We caught up with Nicole Fall, Founder of Asian Consumer Intelligence, to speak about what makes Southeast Asian hair care trends unique, their widespread appeal, and how these are set to change.

Discussing the significance of hair care trends in Southeast Asia compared to those

throughout the rest of Asia and Oceania, Nicole Fall, Founder of Asian Consumer Intelligence, highlighted the “ever-present humidity and heat”.

“Frizzy, greasy hair is a daily occurrence – not a seasonal issue – for many who reside in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia,”​ she expressed.

Notably, hair needs to be washed daily to prevent hair loss, creating a demand for pockets of specific hair care innovations to emerge.

Female hair care consumers also undergo bonding and chemical treatments at salons as the solutions are readily available at affordance prices.

“It is a combination of treated hair, extreme weather conditions as well as concerns regarding environmental pollution and hair loss that have created such a unique environment for specific trends,”​ Fall reiterated.

Eastern and western contrasts

Interestingly, Fall identifies the key differences between eastern and western hair care preferences as “the demand for silicon-free and paraben-free hair care products”​, which first began in Japan before moving to other parts of Asia.

This consumer call-out for chemical-free hair care ranges existed “long before it was a trend in Europe and North America”.

This “was driven by Japanese hair care manufacturers pushing these ‘free-from’ claims due to the interest in natural”​, along with the wide accessibility of Japanese hair care products throughout Southeast Asia.

Mass-market brands and Japanese brands are both popular in Southeast Asia, and so “many of the trends we see in Asia are region specific instead of being imported from the US or Europe”.

Additionally, the awareness that Asian hair is different to European hair has been out there for “some time”​ and so “brands from other parts of Asia are considered to be more relevant than a generic multinational brand designed for everyone”.

Global comparisons

There are some similarities that run throughout the global hair market, however.

Men and women throughout the world, for instance, gain a lot of confidence from having good hair.

“Fears among men with regards to balding are global and when women are pregnant they experience some hair loss; these issues affect people whatever their geography,”​ Fall noted.

To achieve appeal and resonate strongly with specific target audiences, though, “the trick is to ensure that formulations are fragranced for local appeal, address local environmental concerns whatever they might be and either shift more into natural, premium or ingredient focused areas depending on the needs of the local consumer”.

Scalp protection

Intra-Asian trends are yet to reach their peak yet, and so still have room to develop and grow, especially as women seek additional positives from their treatments beyond simply cleaning.

Considering the impact of these Southeast Asia trends overseas, Fall enthused: “I believe that the focus on scalp cleansing services and other straightening, as well as conditioning treatments widely available in salons in Southeast Asia, would do well in ​market overseas.”

Notably, the Balinese scalp cleansing treatment became a huge trend with women in Japan over 15 years ago, along with a particular brand of Indonesian hair moisturising oils, still popular among women today.

No clear frontrunner

Commenting on whether there is a stand-out market of the moment in Southeast Asia, Fall “wouldn’t say there is one outstanding market when it comes to hair care in Southeast Asia”.

Rather, each country has an extensive range of products produced by local manufacturers as well as the leading multinational presence.

With this said, “what makes the scene more interesting is the rise of independent beauty brands, with many of these looking at hair care too”.

In the near future, we may witness significantly more innovation from indie brands, particularly those that hail from Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Ageing in hair care

Hair loss is fuelling product launches particularly as Japan, Korea, Singapore, China and Thailand have “surprisingly aged populations”.

As a consequence, more claims are cropping up featuring ‘ageing hair’, as well as packaging highlighting the product’s ability to create volume to offset hair decrease.

This ageing population results in new demands and, in some cases, higher expenditure on personal care products.

“I suspect these claims will rise along with more products targeting environmental damage and removal, UV protection, higher quality fragrances and even category breakthroughs in restoring shine naturally and damage repair,”​ Fall concluded.

In-cosmetics Asia 2017

Nicole Fall will be presenting in the Marketing Trends Theatre at in-cosmetics Asia, which takes place in Bangkok from 31 October – 2 November 2017.

Her session entitled Haircare trends in Southeast Asia will examine changing needs from consumers, how anti-pollution products are gaining traction, the region’s unique environmental challenges such as heat and humidity that offer inspiration for new category development as well as analysis on consumer insights on what issues consumers face when purchasing hair care products in Southeast Asia.

To find out more, visit http://asia.in-cosmetics.com/visit/

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