| JABABEKA, Indonesia
JABABEKA, Indonesia Nov 8 Vanya Sunanto never
used any makeup until she was 25. But now, at 30, she uses 10
layers of cosmetics on her face every day.
Sunanto is one of the growing millions of young Indonesians
that giant international firms such as L'Oreal and Unilever are
targeting with increased investment this year in a variety of
hair and skincare products.
"I love wearing them...These skincare products are still
expensive but they really make a lot of impact on your skin,"
said Sunanto, a website account manager, who now spends a hefty
$150 a month, or about a tenth of her salary, on cosmetics.
Sunanto has long had to import some of her "must-have"
products, such as SKII Miracle Water, Clinique Moisture Surge
and Cover Girl mascara, via the internet or friends travelling
from abroad, since many are not yet available in Indonesia.
But that is starting to change.
L'Oreal, the world's top cosmetics firm, opened its biggest
factory globally in Java this week, as it is seeing 30 percent
sales growth and expects the country's beauty market to become
the third biggest in Asia. Rival Unilever, the country's market
leader, plans to expand its factories too, while local cosmetics
firm Martina Berto is also building a new plant in Java.
Domestic demand from new middle class consumers, and
investment to feed it, are now key drivers of Southeast Asia's
biggest economy. Retail sales surged 22 percent in September,
keeping economic growth above 6 percent, among Asia's strongest
"With this type of growth we constantly need to extend our
manufacturing capability," said Peter Ter Kulve, chairman of
FROM SACHETS TO SEPHORA
Indonesians, an island people living between the Indian
Ocean and the Pacific, have traditionally seen the most
important beauty features for women as good skin and long hair.
But for many, cosmetics and shampoo have long been a luxury,
purchased only as needed. In rural areas and cities alike,
roadside shacks selling a few products such as individual
sachets of shampoo are still common.
Wati, a 35-year old domestic worker in Java who earns $200 a
month, has started spending a little more on shampoo after a
recent pay raise, moving from Sunsilk up to Dove, both Unilever
brands. A small tray of face powder and lipstick, her luxury,
lasts her a year.
But a wider selection of cosmetics is becoming more easily
available as modern convenience stores, pharmacies and
supermarkets spread across the archipelago of 17,000 islands,
home to the world's fourth largest population.
For the wealthy who shop in the glossy malls of Jakarta,
high end brands such as Crabtree & Evelyn and Kiehl have opened
franchise outlets. Victoria's Secret and Sephora, which carry
niche brands, will open flagship stores next year.
There were 9,000 cosmetics registered for sale by the
government this year, more than foods or any other consumer
L'Oreal says it has had to develop specific products to
cater for Indonesians, whose skin has to battle strong sun, high
humidity and urban pollution, often leading to oily and sweaty
complexions. With 90 percent of the population Muslim, cosmetics
also have to withstand regular face washing ahead of prayers.
So products need to have stronger fragrances, higher SPF
protection and be more waterproof. Creams need to be thick but
fast drying, otherwise women assume they are oily.
In rural areas, a shower means simply pouring cups of cold
water over your head, so shampoos need to rinse out quickly too.
A fairer skin colour is seen as a symbol of higher status for
women, so products often contain whitening agents as well.
"I found many cosmetics products, mainly drugstore brands,
have a thick, sticky texture that doesn't feel nice on my skin,"
said Sunanto. "I wish makeup had more staying power, and nicer
The skincare market, meanwhile, is growing so much that
companies are even starting to take aim at men. L'Oreal's
Indonesian sales growth is up 300 percent for men's products and
the overall men's market is up 60 percent.
"The man market is a blue ocean," said L'Oreal's Asia
managing director, Jochen Zaumseil.
Wigra Hanafiah, a 27-year-old communication strategist in
the oil and gas industry, says he uses face wash, hair wax,
deodorant, aftershave, moisturizers, lotion and perfume.
"There are male celebrities endorsing it (men's cosmetics) -
actors, singers, car-racers," he said. "That says 'Hey, it's
okay to be a guy and take care of your looks.'"
(Editing by Elaine Lies)