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  • Posted by Helen Ansell
  • November 20, 2018
  • Articles

Beauty Boom: What’s driving the aesthetics growth in emerging markets?

Beauty Boom: What’s driving the aesthetics growth in emerging markets?

Helen Ansell explores why aesthetics is one of the most lucrative areas for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries in emerging markets.

Aesthetics have always been a lucrative area for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, particularly in developed markets. There are several factors contributing to growth in the aesthetics market. Women today have more spending power than ever before. In the US alone the aesthetics market is expected to reach USD $4.4 billion by 2021. However, what has really grabbed my attention as a researcher specialising in emerging markets and cosmetics, is the huge growth in demand in developing markets over the past few years, strongly reinforcing the opportunities for healthcare companies across the globe. 

According to research by Ernst and Young, the global incomes of women are predicted to reach USD $18 trillion in 2018 and women are expected to control nearly 75% of discretionary spending worldwide by 2028

There are several factors contributing to growth in the aesthetics market. Women today have more spending power than ever before. In emerging markets the gradual breakdown of cultural, societal and gender barriers over time has enabled more women to receive an education and join the workforce. As these women join the ‘urban elite’, they are delaying getting married and having children and as a result, have more disposable income and the freedom to choose how this is spent.

Of course, women hold their own personal opinions about whether or not they want to undergo cosmetic procedures. However, different parts of the world have specific beauty ideals which can, and do, influence women’s desire to change their appearance. In the east there is a high demand for skin whitening, especially in South East Asian countries such as Malaysia, The Philippines and South Korea. Jawline contouring is a treatment that is on the rise, particularly in China where women hope to achieve a more oval or heart-shaped face. In the west, particularly Latin America, women aspire to be the “perfect woman” and although women’s attitudes differ depending on the region - North, Central or South America, they share a standard that comes with slim but curvaceous bodies. More women than ever are getting breast enlargement and buttock augmentation surgery, commonly referred to as a "Brazilian butt lift".

The growth in medical tourism positions countries such as Thailand, South Korea and Latin America as key ‘aesthetic markets’ of interest. Affordability is a key driver for choosing to receive treatment overseas. In addition, we see that women also choose to receive treatment in countries where trends originate. The Brazilian butt lift is one of the main draws for its namesake location as Brazil medical tourism continues to attract scores of overseas patients for cosmetic surgery.

Another factor which has significantly contributed to industry growth is the increase in expats living and working abroad, particularly in the Middle East. “The desire to stop the aging process, which is increasingly more highly valued in countries where sun exposure is high, and ‘urban living’ has helped provide repeat business for many clinics”.

So, while the US remains the largest developed market for medical aesthetics, the demand for cosmetic procedures and treatments is picking up fast in emerging economies. Mexico, Brazil, China and India are amongst the four largest markets globally for aesthetics products and represent an exceptional opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry. However, the potential for growth in emerging markets comes with its own set of risks – an understanding the culture, expectations and priorities of customers within each market is key. 

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