With debilitating economic crises a thing of the past, Argentinean women are free to indulge in their great passion: beauty.

Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 05/09/2008

One sector in which women are eager to spend money is hair care. In 2007, sales reached $570 million, according to Euromonitor. Fragrance was second with $333 million, followed by men’s grooming products at $325 million, skin care at $324 million, premium cosmetics at $217 million and makeup at $150 million.


Another aspect of Argentinian culture is the desire to always be clean. There’s a kind of obsession with the matter that makes women go out with their hair wet as a symbol of permanent “freshness.” Argentineans wash their hair on a daily basis; hair care was the only sector of the toiletries market in which the government stepped in and negotiated an agreement for containing prices during the economic crises.

According to Latin Panel Argentina, 46 percent of Argentinean women work outside the home, a proportion that declines as one moves down the social pyramid. Working women spend an average of 7 percent more and shop 7 percent less frequently. Most women who work are between 25 and 49 years old; their primary purchases are cosmetics, jewelery, books and clothes. “Argentinean women are very keen of their appearance, no matter their social status,” says Carla Andrada, head of press at Avon Argentina. According to Avon, the company receives about six million orders annually, at an average of $50 each. About 80 percent belong to lower- and middle-class working women. Though a leader in direct sales, Avon had to open a dozen flagships in different cities here in order to increase customer familiarity with its products.

Overall, women are becoming much more savvy about beauty products. They’ve become highly demanding, requiring quality and valuing brands on the basis of their appeal, since price is no longer a valid indicator in itself. Brand loyalty can no longer be taken for granted.

According to a recent survey by Nielsen, regarding hair care and bath and toiletries, the primary retail channels are hypermarkets and local supermarket chains and pharmacies. But when it comes to buying color cosmetics, consumers largely preferred the convenience of neighborhood stores, because of the impression that independent stores offer a more personal shopping experience.

Also, consumers do not want to travel to stores relatively far away. A notable exception is Farmacity, a drugstore chain that showed strong retail growth over the last five years. Farmacity’s growth is attributable to its 24-hour, seven-day service, competitive prices, heavy advertising and frequent promotions, interest-free financing and a large number of stores in high-traffic areas.

Another huge portion of the beauty market takes place in direct selling. Avon is the leader, though Tsu Cosméticos is a strong contender. Meanwhile, the high-end luxury market continues to be dominated by imports such as Clinique, Dior and Lancôme. Other major players include Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal, Maybelline, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Coty, Natura and Colgate-Palmolive; the most significant local player is The Value Brand Co. In addition to  the well-known multinationals, “small and medium-size companies have gradually increased their shares,” according to Euromonitor. Such brands on the rise include Tsú Cosméticos, Cannon Puntana SA, Lab. Andromaco SA, Matiz SA and Naturel SA.


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