Taking Off

Russia has always been a country that's larger than life, so it's no surprise that when it comes to beauty, the numbers are jaw-dropping.

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

Russia has always been a country that’s larger than life, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to beauty, the numbers are jaw-dropping. Ninety-three percent of all women in Russia wear lipstick and 92 percent, fragrance, according to statistics from Procter & Gamble. Eighty-six percent use facial moisturizer and 55 percent, hair color. Their beauty regimens, ranging from three to six steps daily, are among the most elaborate anywhere. That is very, very good news for beauty manufacturers, particularly given the gloomy economic outlook in much of the developed world and the ongoing growing pains of many emerging markets.

This story first appeared in the May 9, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


Earlier this year, our European editor Jennifer Weil traveled to Moscow to undergo a comprehensive analysis

of the beauty market there. As you’ll discover in “Russia Rising” on page 32, what she found is fascinating. While Russian women have a natural affinity for beauty, they also have very—very—clear ideas of what they like when it comes to products. (Woe to the marketer who launches an oriental fragrance, for example.) And while the country’s unimaginably rich oligarchs may garner the most media attention, Weil finds it’s the middle class who are squarely in the sights of industry insiders.

Still, who doesn’t love to read about how the other half lives? And the other half lives very well indeed in Russia, as Peter Savodnik reports in  “Living Large,” an inside-the-bathroom portrait of  one of Russia’s wealthiest women.

The former Soviet Union has also become a key exporter of beauty around the world—at least when it comes to models. The most famous of them all is this issue’s cover star, Natalia Vodianova, whose rags-to-riches story often eclipses the work she’s doing to benefit the country’s children. Find out more in “Supernova” on page 24.

If Russia is now, Vietnam is the future. As Betsy Lowther writes in “Vying for Vietnam” on page 46, “Of the ‘Next 11,’ a term coined by Goldman Sachs for the group of growing consumer markets, such as Turkey, Nigeria and Mexico, Vietnam has emerged as one of beauty’s biggest potential players.” For now, sales there are estimated at a modest $610 million, but high-growth categories like skin care and color cosmetics are expected to rise by 10 to 15 percent a year for the next five years.

Key to the development of Vietnam is the modernization of its retail channels. As WWD Beauty Biz discovered, though, when we enlisted undercover reporters to shop for spring skin care regimens in “At the Counter,” even an established presence is not a guarantor of good service. One young reporter in Mexico City was told a particular sunscreen would prevent premature wrinkling if she was in the 26-to-35 age range. She’s 22. “Because of my age, I became a nonclient and she walked away.” Oops. Happily, our reporters in Rome and Shanghai fared better, while the experience was hit-and-miss in New York.
Oh well. As Yogi Berra—who sat down with great friend Bobbi Brown to talk baseball, beauty and lip balm—once said, “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”