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The Beauty Business

The availability of vast range of products at competitive prices attracts African buyers to Dubai's booming cosmetics market

Africa presents one of the fastest developing markets in the world and the demand for cosmetics is growing at a frantic pace. Not only is there a huge pent-up demand for upmarket products from Europe and North America but also for the entire range of beauty and personal care products from major manufacturers around the world.

When it comes to looking their best at all times, Africans are second to none. As such, there is a huge demand for products such as beauty soaps, face washes, shampoos, conditioners, body and africa cosmeticsskin lotions, toners, astringents, cold creams and other moiturising formulations, perfumes, hair colours, dyes, powders, eye and face packs, to mention just a few. While there is now a considerable level of manufacturing activity taking place within Africa itself, there is an ever assertive and growing segment of consumers who are demanding the best products available in the world. Enterprising traders are keen to source such goods from all the reputed manufacturers but are often hamstrung by the volumes of purchases required. Most manufacturers are not interested in supplying quantities that do not run into several container loads at least. Often it is not viable for buyers to go in for such large volumes.

Secondly, there is also the question of sourcing products from different countries and even continents. For instance, an African importer may be interested in facial products from Europe, toiletry from the Far East and herbal cosmetics from the USA. But this would place immense logistics constraints and would involve travelling around the world and opening of letters of Credit with a host of banks. Often, all these obstacles would prove insurmountabe and many exporters would be put off by the sheer magnitude and complications of the whole exercise.

In such a scenario, Dubai offers African importers the ideal market place. "African buyers can source all their requirements from just one location," says Mohd Al Khatib, Managing Director, Siblin Cosmetics (LLC), a leading supplier of salon equipment. "Buyers can select from a vast range of merchandise and buy just the quantities they require and then transport the goods back to their home countries at very competitive freight costs," he says.

The profit margins in this business are high and plenty of African buyers are flocking to the United Arab Emirates to meet growing requirements for cosmetics and salon equipment in their own countries. "We are in a position to meet any specifiic requirements African buyers may have and are able to source all that they need. Even if we do not carry adequate stocks, we are able to get fresh supplies from our principals at very short notice," says Kamal Khatib, Managing Director of Maram Cosmetics. "We specialise in salon products and are very happy with the interest shown by African buyers in our products," he adds.

Dubai's strength in the cosmetics business is based on low-priced goods and low import duties. "We have excellent connections and contacts with Far Eastern and European suppliers and are able to offer their products to African buyers at very competitive prices due to the fact that we operate on low profit margins and a very low-cost environment in terms of import related tariffs," says Ziad Sabbagh of Al Nasaem Company. "As such, African buyers are very happy to deal with us and we have a large number of repeat orders from them," he says.

Pankaj Menon, General Manager of Al Hathboor International (agents for AVON) says that his company is very happy with its dealings with African buyers. "We are keen to expand our presence in Africa and are looking forward to much greater business volumes in the coming months and years," he says.

"Our participation in the AFRO BUSINESS TRADE FAIR in Uganda proved to be a turning point of our business with Africa. The trade fair provided us an opportunity to establish longterm business contacts with wholesalers and distributors in the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. We were surprised at the overwhelming interest in our products by the African buyers," says Sanjay Makhija of Gem Plaza, a reputed dealer in cosmetics, toiletries and beauty products. African buyers too are very happy to come to Dubai to buy their requirements. "Prices in Africa for these goods are almost double," says Grace Wanjiku of Kenya, who was recently in Dubai to buy cosmetics for her salon in Nairobi. This sentiment very much embodies the expectations that African buyers have from the UAE and this trend of sourcing cosmetics and beauty products from the UAE is expected not only to continue in the years to come buy also grow in scope and stature.

Business Advise

There are a few easy ways for cosmetic dealers and manufacturers to make their presence felt in the markets of Africa. For traders of beauty products, perfumes, toiletries and salon equipment, Africa is indeed a very lucrative market. Those dealing in products manufactured in the Far East (China, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia etc) will find a ready market for their products as Africa is by and large a very price-sensitive market. It is a well known fact that African customers prefer cheaply priced goods from the Far East rather than the expensive ones from Europe and America. You can promote your products and/or services in Africa through many mediums:

The first and foremost, and by far the most effective, is to establish direct contacts with your business counterparts in these regions by participating in the forthcoming 3rd AFRO BUSINESS TRADE FAIR which is being held in Kampala, Uganda just before Christmas season. Supported by the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and the COMESA Business Community Committee, the AFRO BUSINESS TRADE FAIR has established itself as one of East Africa
's prime trade events. In the past few years, many international companies, specially from the Middle East, have used the AFRO BUSINESS TRADE FAIR to improve their presence in the East African markets. Information on participation and stall availibility can be obtained from the Organisers.

Download the Africa Importers Directory and start sending emails to your business counterparts in Kenya and establish a business relation with them. Kenya is known as the "Gateway to Africa" and is a major importer and distributor of goods in East Africa. The Africa Importers Directory is a perfect way to reach the business community of Kenya from the convenience of your desktop.

The growing use and influence of the Internet can also be harnessed to promote your business in the African markets. By posting your business proposals on the African Classified Advertisements section, you can expect direct responses from your business counterparts in African countries. Employing the growing influence of Internet technology to promote your business in international markets is one of the most simple and effective promotional tool for forward-looking enterpreuners. Simply post your message and wait for the results. Simple!

Last, but not least, add your company to the Advertising Section of the Africa Business Pages. The Advertising Section will carry a full page editorial about your company as well as two pictures of your company's products. In addition to this, your company will also be provided with a direct link in the Business Links section. By promoting your company on the Africa Business Pages you can reap rich dividends. An absolute essential for those targetting the African market. Browse through some samples before taking a decision.


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