Cosmoprof Asia 2019
Getting the hump: UAE cosmetics firm looking to Asia for camel soap growth
The company was formed in 2013 and sold handmade bar soap made from camel’s milk, which it claims is densely packed with vitamins, minerals and Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs).
“While cows and goats produce 25litres of milk a day, camels produce only 6litres. It’s a lot less, but with the same amount of nutrients. These creatures live in harsh environments where there’s little water, so they have to pack a lot into very little,” explained Matt Becker, business development, The Camel Soap Factory.
The nourishing powers of camel’s milk as a skin care ingredient has led the company on a journey of tremendous growth. Since its entry into the market, the company has seen strong double-digit growth yearly.
Currently, its sales primarily come from the Middle-East region. This including countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia in addition to its home market of the UAE.
The brand is available through its online websites as well as offline in supermarket chains and the duty-free channels.
Becker told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that the company still see growth potential in the Middle East region but is also looking to expand into the Asian market.
Previously, the firm was looking to expand into the European market but discovered that Asia held more potential for the brand as Asian consumers were less price-sensitive compared to their European counterparts.
“Our products are premium items with a higher price-point because of our high-quality ingredients. Asian consumers are very cautious about ingredients and where they are sourced. So even though we looked at European first, we just naturally shifted to Asia,” said Becker.
While the company is very open to expanding into various parts of Asia such as Thailand or Japan, its main focus is in China, where there is some brand recognition thanks to the daigou shoppers.
“We were wildly taken by surprise that you could buy our soaps online and in stores in China. Even though we didn’t do any marketing or advertising, we managed to spread there,” said Dave Esmonde-White, marketing manager of The Camel Soap Factory.
Becker believes the brand resonates with Chinese consumers because of their ‘made-in-Dubai’ label. “[Chinese consumers] love the fact that it is from Dubai. To them, it is synonymous with luxury.”
In fact, when the company tried to appeal to Chinese consumers with Chinese characters, Esmonde-White said they rejected the idea and preferred to see Arabic labels even though they cannot understand it.
According to Becker, Chinese consumers have some awareness of the benefits of camel’s milk because of some Mongolian influences and are much receptible to it compare to other Asian consumers.
“South Koreans especially tend to associate Camel’s milk with [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome],” he said.
He elaborated: “The milk we use is not raw from the camel. It goes through dairies which are European certified and sold it supermarket shelves. We use that pasteurised milk in our soap.”
The company’s bar soaps continue to be what they are best known for. However, it has since expanded its range into skin cream and lip balm. It has plans to further expand the line with more creams or even masks, said Esmonde-White.
Another area the brand is focused on is ensuring it develops environmentally -friendly products. Its bar soaps are packaged in reusable pouches and its skin cream is currently undergoing changes from plastic to aluminium packaging.