Rahul Mishra show, Backstage, India Couture Week, New Delhi - 27 Jul 2017

BEIJING — Wrinkles aren’t much to worry about in the eyes of the average Indian consumer, according to a new report from Mintel. While marketing terms like anti-wrinkle, rejuvenating and radiance-enhancing would catch the eyes of many shoppers in other markets, that’s not the way it works in India, at least not yet.

“Skin aging barely registers as a worthwhile conversation topic in the Indian market,” Mintel said in a study that examined the beauty behavior across Asia-Pacific, and a lot of that boils down to genetics.

“Due to the high melanin content in Indian skin, the signs of aging start well-past middle age,” Mintel explained. “Moreover, with the general lack of a skin-care regime and overall low usage of skin-care products, an additional antiaging product will have a tough battle to win space on Indian consumers’ beauty shelves. In fact, Mintel GNPD reveals that antiaging skin care remains a stagnant market in India.”

That’s not to say there is low interest in personal grooming overall. Mintel pinpoints hair care as the top concern for Indians.

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“While the rest of Asia is interested in skin aging, Indians are far more concerned about their hair aging. Signs of aging — graying, thinning and balding — are among the top fears and concerns of consumers, especially among men,” it said.

More Indians have colored over gray hair than have used an antiaging skin product, it said, and the number of hair-care product launches in India with “antiaging” claims has more than tripled from 2017 to 2018, though admittedly starting from a small base.

“Antiaging in hair care is emerging and there is strong potential that it will be ‘the next big thing’ in India’s beauty and personal-care market,” the firm predicted.

The Mintel study aligns with a separate report by Global Data, which found that hair-care products took the largest share, or 28.4 percent, of the Indian cosmetics and personal-care market, which was worth $13.3 billion in 2018. Overall, the market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.7 percent, reaching $20 billion in 2023. While hair care is the largest category by volume, Global Data predicts fragrances will grow the fastest, rising 19.6 percent in the five-year period, while makeup products are expected to grow 13.1 percent.

“They have beautiful hair and want to keep it like that,” said Wolfgang Baier, chief executive officer of the regional beauty distributor, Luxasia, of the Indian consumer. The Singaporean-headquartered company is the partner for 140 brands in markets spanning from Australia to India. But Baier clarified that while antiaging skin care is not a substantial concern yet among Indian consumers, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a sizable opportunity or a market could eventually develop.

“While hair care is a very big portfolio in India, India is still a massive market. There’s a place for brands who focus on antiaging skin care,” he said.

Products aimed at preventing the signs of aging could eventually catch on as incomes and demographics evolve. The Global Data study said that for now, the most popular way to buy cosmetics and toiletries is via convenience stores, indicating a low price point. It’s also worth remembering how young the country is. Last year, nearly 45 percent of the population in India was age 25 or younger.

“Some of those products are still relatively new in terms of anti-aging products, they take time to mature,” Baier said.

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