By  on August 10, 2007

Australia, the country where Helena Rubinstein first built her beauty empire, plans to trumpet its beauty authority to the U.S. market.

The Australian Trade Commission, an Australian government agency known as Austrade, partnered with McEntyre Public Relations Inc. to develop a marketing initiative designed to put 10 Australian brands in front of U.S. beauty editors and beauty buyers.

Beginning next week, the assortment will reach the desks of some 75 U.S. beauty authorities by way of a satchel branded "Australian Trade Commission" and labeled "Discover the Beauty of Australia." The lineup includes Botany Essentials, Intraceuticals, Advanced Naturals, Urban Rituelle, Li'tya, Mirenésse, LM Naturals, Skin Doctors Cosmeceuticals, VitaMan and SunFX. Each brand is positioned at the premium end of the market.

"Australia is really an untapped resource for the U.S. consumer, and we felt that we needed to raise awareness," said Betina Reid, senior export adviser for consumer products for Austrade. She noted that many Australian beauty lines mine indigenous Aboriginal ingredients and rely on natural botanicals. On the opposite end of the spectrum, its national science agency, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, provides research and ample inspiration for cosmeceutical skin care lines. Like most global markets, large multinational firms dominate Australia's beauty sales. Reid said that imports from countries such as the U.S., France and Japan account for 80 percent of Australia's current beauty market.

As it stands, the U.S.'s beauty industry dwarfs beauty sales in Australia, a country that has a population of about 21 million people, fewer than the state of California. Last year, the U.S. cosmetics and toiletries market reaped $50.2 billion in retail sales, compared with the $3.5 billion in retail sales generated in Australia, according to Euromonitor International.

The sheer size and scope of the market make it difficult for foreign-born, niche companies to plant a flag on U.S. soil, said Reid, who is based in Sydney. Commenting on the competitiveness of the U.S. market, she added, "We are very much in a situation of David and Goliath."

To gather participants for the initiative — which she developed with her New York City-based colleague, Anjali Jain, business development manager for Austrade — Reid contacted roughly 800 Australian beauty companies. Approximately 25 firms responded to her query and from there Reid, Jain and the McEntyre Public Relations team whittled the list down to 10 companies.

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