With debilitating economic crises a thing of the past, Argentinean women are free to indulge in their great passion: beauty.
Beauty is everywhere in Argentina, with a constant stream of ads urging women to buy lotions, potions, creams and shampoos to keep them looking younger, thinner and more attractive.
No wonder, considering that Argentineans are absolutely obsessed with appearance and dieting. In a country that imports more silicone implants per capita than any other in the world, women are not only very attractive, extremely thin and very tanned, but also all seem to have ridiculously nice hair.
Two-thirds of schoolgirls say they want to be models when they grow up, which explains why Mattel chose Buenos Aires to open its first-ever Barbie “fashion-attainment” store, where girls can have their hair and makeup done at the Barbie beauty salon.
The obsession with beauty is reflected in sales. Cosmetics and toiletries rang up $2.3 billion in 2007, according to Euromonitor International, a figure expected to hit $2.7 billion by 2012.
Also surprising is that Argentina is fast becoming a major exporter of cosmetics. According to figures from Cámara Argentina de la Indústria de Cosmética y Perfúmeria, or CAPA, exports reached $345 million during 2007. Argentina’s main buyer is Chile while its main exporter is Brazil. “Argentina is producing cosmetics at a great quality level because our local rules are as strict as the European ones,” says Julio Torres, operations manager for CAPA.
Such growth wasn’t always a sure thing. Argentina experienced a dire economic crisis in 2001. The road to recovery began in 2003; over the last four years, this country with a population of 40 million has seen average GDP increases of around 9 percent a year, reaching in 2006 a per capita annual income of $15,200. The economy is expected to continue to grow through 2011.
“We’ve surpassed the levels we had before the crisis,” says Fernando Suban, director of AC Nielsen Argentina. Today, consumer confidence is at an all-time high. According to Nielsen, average monthly expenditures over 2006-2007 increased by nearly 25 percent.