In recent years, the African beauty business has grown significantly and is predicted to continue to grow by $1.26 billion over the next four years. Despite this demand for both luxury Western brands and homegrown beauty labels, Africa has been underserved by online retailers.
Enter Jendaya, a new e-commerce platform launched this year which aims to bring together world renowned luxury brands and shine a light on African based brands entering the fashion and beauty market.
When you think of a booming cosmetics market, you would be forgiven for not automatically thinking of Africa. But if recent data is anything to go by, the African beauty market is not to be underestimated. The cosmetics market is witnessing a surge, with consumers paying more attention to their beauty routines than ever, as a result manufacturers and brands are starting to take notice. With the global personal care industry valued at $400 billion, Africa represents a 3 per cent share of this, and there is money to be made.
L’Oréal South Africa, now not only has its own labs within the country, it also has its own factory – described as a ‘local manufacturing pod predominately for our African beauty brands.’ While also making international products, African development is at its heart, making region-specific products such as hair relaxers and oils.
It seems that while black African women are notably drawn to body products, hair care products are most in demand. Cosmetic giant L’Oréal has played to this in its marketing approach in Africa, with campaigns such as The African Queen, which demonstrated a range of hair styles such as sleek, braids, or natural. L’Oréal has also then segmented its products into the categories to ‘facilitate’ the individual journey of each consumer – tapping into the huge global trend of personalised beauty.
What is driving such interest in the country?
Much like the rest of the world, Africa is putting a huge focus on organic beauty and specifically home-grown ingredients. With such an abundance of raw and natural, skin-loving ingredients originating from Africa, it is easy to see why luxury beauty brands are so keen to tap into this wealth of natural resources and an organic-focused consumer base.
When it comes to luxury brands and e-commerce, Africa has long been left out of the conversation. However, the wealthy African consumer market has demonstrated their love of fashion and beauty and their desire to mix luxury labels with African brands. As a result, a number of luxury retailers and global brands have expanded into the continent in order to tap into this lucrative market.
Kiko Milano has expanded into Saudi Arabia in a partnership with franchise retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & Company, whilst Procter & Gamble after four years launched its first new retail hair care brand Waterl<ss, geared towards the rising growth of hair products across Africa.
The cosmetics retail channel also witnessed a surge, both on and offline in recent years; Unilever was looking to e-commerce to get its products to market, entering Nigeria via e-commerce site Jumia.
Africa is certainly making a name for itself when it comes to beauty retail. Yan and One has become North Africa’s answer to beauty giant Sephora, selling everything from makeup and skincare to fragrance and wellness products.
Finally, the aforementioned Jendaya launched this year. CEO of the London-based platform, Ayotunde Rufai said; “It’s a platform for discovery.” After working as an investment banker, Rufai and his co-founders saw the perfect opportunity to better serve the fashion and beauty-hungry African consumers.
A younger demographic of shoppers alongside greater government investment within the industry has led to an increase in activity from both local and international companies throughout the supply chain. With Africa currently representing 3 percent of the global personal care market and with consumer spending on the up specifically online during the pandemic, it comes as no surprise that industry giants as mentioned above are putting down roots in Africa in a bid to reap future financial rewards from the expansion of the market.
The younger demographic looking to embrace wellness and beauty is a major key to the current success of the African beauty market, while the rise and rise of influencer brands and campaigns as well as increased digital infrastructure and retail highlights Africa’s ability to keep its finger on the pulse in terms of catering to modern consumers and adapt to the ever changing landscape of the market.
Marketing by both international and local brands has also been prevalent. Alongside L’Oréal’s aforementioned ‘African Queen’ campaign, both L’Oréal and Maybelline announced celebrity and influencer African spokespersons, while celebrities with strong social media followings, such as Amber Ray, Boipelo Mabe and Neveen Dominic, have launched their own lines showing a clear understanding of the power of image and promotion.
Despite the western market’s expansion into Africa, there is a whole host of luxury African beauty brands that are making real waves in the industry. Here are a few of the brands to know now.
Launched in 2017, Epara caught the attention of the global press, and pretty soon became known as the luxury brand that made beauty more inclusive. Designed to meet the skincare needs of women of colour, Epara uses a combination of ingredients such as plankton extract, marula oil and bamboo silk to tackle hyperpigmentation and promote healing and hydration.
Created with the desire to promote the unique natural properties of lesser-used African plants, Suki Suki Naturals celebrates Africa’s unique biodiversity with a focus on organic ingredients and no harmful chemicals. There are no parabens, sulfates, mineral oils, petroleum or even animal testing for that matter. The brand is a great believer in nature’s power to restore, repair and heal and each of its all-natural hair and skincare products draw on African beauty’s history, ancestral knowledge and powerful natural ingredients to tackle a variety of hair and skin issues.
More than just another line of products, this collection is an invitation to travel in time and space, to indulge in self-care—and to celebrate an authentic, free and contemporary lifestyle, inspired by the nomadic people of Chad. Salwa Petersen, created her eponymous collection of award-winning, clean, high-performance beauty products that combine the best of nature and ritualistic recipes of Chad with today’s cutting-edge technology. Celebrating powerful natural ingredients and age-old beauty rituals, this brand culminates culture, history and above all else luxurious product quality.
Founded by LA-based South African couple, Craig and Julia Noik, African Botanics is an ode to their homeland and its rich cultural heritage. The couple were determined to preserve Africa’s biodiversity and support the local communities, therefore its ingredients are sourced in South Africa’s ecological regions and coupled with cutting-edge skincare technology that maximises the products’ hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties. African Botanics combines the best of rich, luxurious and natural ingredients with tried and tested products for maximum efficacy, the result is perfectly hydrated skin and a kinder approach to beauty.