What Types of Australian Health and Beauty Products are Popular in Southeast Asia?
October 11, 2019
July 10, 2023
Australian health and beauty brands are making great inroads into the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. In Southeast Asia, where food and personal care are a top eCommerce product category in countries like Singapore and Malaysia, Australian health and beauty products are perceived as "Clean, Green and Safe," according to Austrade.1
If anything, now is the perfect time for you to capitalise on this demand for Australian health and beauty brands in Southeast Asia. If you’re not sure where to start, consider getting inspiration from some of the most popular Australian health and beauty brands in the region.
Popular Australian health and beauty brands in Southeast Asia
Natio is another brand that embodies the Australian brand of clean and green personal care products. The company’s value proposition is hinged on products that “combines the finest natural ingredients with 100 per cent pure essential oil blends.” The result is a gentle plant-based regimen that leads to healthier and more radiant skin.
With a presence in Southeast Asia going back 40 years, Blackmores continues to be one of the region’s largest providers of complementary medicines, with a product line that ranges from conventional vitamins to supplements for joint health, better sleep, and improved memory among many others. Blackmores is also a leading brand in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, according to Nikkei report.2
BYS carries a wide range of affordable, high-quality, and easy-to-use cosmetics, from eyeshadow palettes and eyeliner to foundation and lip colour. The brand occupies the same niche as other drugstore cosmetics brands and serves a predominantly young market.
True enough, the brand makes sure it checks off a key factor that younger consumers care about: sustainability. Bare Beauty notes3 that BYS products are 100 per cent PETA Cruelty Free approved, vegan-friendly, and paraben-free.
Australis is another cruelty-free cosmetics brand geared towards pocket-friendly price points. Among the company’s most popular products include the AC on Tour Kit and the Fresh & Flawless Pressed Powder, both of which are marketed as alternatives to more expensive cosmetics brands.
These Australian health and beauty brands can be found on Zalora, Shopee, and Lazada, the three largest eCommerce players in the region—all of which are open to cross-border sellers. They’re also sold on local e-marketplaces like JD.ID, Blibli, Bukalapak and Tokopedia (all in Indonesia), and BeautyMNL (a personal care eCommerce site in the Philippines).
While not all of the local eCommerce marketplaces are currently aren’t open to international sellers, you’ll want to monitor them anyway as they can open their doors to international merchants anytime. For instance, Blibli, an Indonesian eCommerce marketplace, is recently is looking for merchants outside Indonesia to list their products on their platform.
These e-marketplaces present the most convenient way for international sellers of health and beauty products to enter the region. They're also the most popular method, with practically all the top 10 eCommerce websites in Indonesia being eCommerce marketplaces, according to iPrice.4
But first, it’s important to understand what makes online consumers in Southeast Asia tick.
Recommendations for Australian health & beauty sellers
1. Meet the demand for products formulated for Asian skin and local concerns
South Korean cosmetics are huge in Southeast Asia because many of these products, which involve complex multi-step skincare routines, are specifically formulated for Asian skin types and Asian climates.
Although there aren’t many Australian cosmetics brands formulated for Asian complexions, what you can do is focus on products that solve another problem faced by cosmetics consumers in Asia: pollution.
Fortunately, many A-Beauty (Australian beauty) products are formulated with anti-pollution ingredients. Brands like Frank Body, known for its coffee scrubs, use Kakadu plum5, a botanical native to Australia with properties that protect the skin from UV damage and pollution.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald6, Australia’s sun-soaked climate also means Australian cosmetics brands produce some of the world’s best sunscreens. These products are great for Southeast Asian countries, which have tropical climates.
Lastly, ageing continues to be a core skin concern in Southeast Asia, as reported by the Business Mirror.7 Consider selling products that don’t just reduce wrinkles, but also fix sun spots, uneven skin tone, and hyperpigmentation. It’s also a good idea to look at trends in ageing populations in the region to predict demand for anti-ageing products. Thailand, for example, has a growing population of older consumers, according to an SCMP story.8
2. Leverage demand for ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ products
Demand for organic food products, including infant formula and supplements, is one of the reasons why Australian health brands like Blackmores and Swisse are massively popular in Southeast Asia.
For example, a US Department of Commerce report9 notes that in Malaysia, “certified organic and natural health supplement is a niche and growing market.” Meanwhile, an Austrade report10 shows strong demand for fish oils/omega fatty acids and coenzyme Q10 health supplements. This is being leveraged by Australian brands/organisations with a foothold in the country, which includes, Concept Laboratories, Pharmacare, Baxter Laboratories, SkinB5, Hamilton, and Redwin.
This trend is consistent with the growing interest consumers in China have in supplements with organic and natural ingredients. It’s led to the explosion of the “daigou” market (pronounced “die-go,” derived from a Mandarin phrase that means “buys on somebody else’s behalf”), where Chinese residents in Australia buy local goods and send them to China, according to News.com.au11.
You should also look into selling organic cosmetics. The SEA organic cosmetics market is expected to be valued at US$4,410.9 million by 2020, with a CAGR of 9.5% according to a report by Future Insights, reported by Global Cosmetic Industry Magazine.12 Top markets include Singapore and Malaysia, both of which will fuel demand for organic hair care and skin care products.
Strong demand for Australian-made cosmetics was also highlighted as a key trend in Southeast Asia by a Cosmetics Design Asia report,13 which notes that Australia’s skin-loving ingredients are giving Australasian beauty products their edge in the market.
3. Follow best practices from popular brands’ websites
The top cosmetics brands and eCommerce platforms follow a number of best practices when selling personal care products online.
For example, cosmetics powerhouse Sephora uses educational materials in the form of “how-tos” and interactive buying guides to help first-time visitors find the products they like from their vast catalogue.
Your educational material doesn’t have to be too sophisticated. For example, a simple how-to infographic discussing a product’s skin benefits can help consumers make a purchase decision. You can then integrate this infographic into your carousel of product images.
You could also follow brands like Frank Body, which created a simple video explaining how to use their coffee scrubs.
Other best practices include bundling high-value products with smaller, cheaper items to drive up your average order value and basket size, especially during Southeast Asia’s major shopping events (more on this later). You can also encourage repeat purchases by creating a loyalty and rewards program, offering exclusive discounts and deals (such as free shipping).
Finally, consider partnering with local influencers and beauty bloggers to generate awareness for your products.
A Meltwater report14 on Southeast Asian beauty buyers reveals that “Social media influencers are now preferred over celebrities for beauty collaborations, given their higher engagement, ROI and credibility among niche audiences.”
4. Understand product discovery preferences and shopping habits
With a social media penetration rate of 78%15, Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most social media savvy markets. Unsurprisingly, consumers in this region turn to social media for product discovery.
According to the Meltwater report, Indonesia accounted for 38 per cent of social media conversations on beauty topics, followed by Malaysia and the Philippines, which accounted for 29 per cent and 27 per cent of social media chatter, respectively. In terms of personal care categories, lip products generated the most social media chatter (49 per cent), followed by face products (26.3 per cent), and eye products (23.5 per cent). Estée Lauder was the most talked about brand on social media.
As for social media platforms, you should definitely be on Instagram, which was the preferred social media platform for collaborations between beauty brands and influencers. The photo-sharing app had eight times more beauty influencers over Twitter and YouTube.
Take inspiration from Australian beauty brands like Mecca, Go-To, and Sand and Sky, all of which are cultivating their respective communities on Instagram, leveraging the highly visual nature of makeup and skincare products.
You can even consider creating localised social media accounts for the country you wish to market to. It’s what Blackmores does, with its dedicated Instagram page for Indonesia.
Finally, it’s imperative that you take advantage of Southeast Asia’s many major holidays and shopping events, which almost always generate higher eCommerce sales. For starters, you have Singles Day or 11/11. Shopee and Lazada have also popularised shopping events like 9/9 and 10/10, both of which are marketed as teasers to 11/11.
In addition, you can’t ignore major holidays like Christmas, New Year, Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan), and Chinese New Year. You’ll also want to read up on B2C shipping tips into Southeast Asia, too.
Be sure to check out these guides to the different online shopping events in major Southeast Asian markets:
Find a partner to mitigate the logistics issues of cross-border selling
Southeast Asia can present a number of logistics nightmares for international sellers, especially those not familiar to the region. As long as you’re selling cosmetics and health products approved by Australia’s NICNAS16 and Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)17, you should have no problem selling them at zero tariffs in Southeast Asia (thanks to the ASEAN-Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement [AANZFTA]).
However, you still have to consider the fact that the region is composed of 11 countries, each one with varying technical guidelines on the importation of goods. Finding a reliable logistics partner on the ground will go a long way towards cutting through all this red tape.
If your game plan to expand sales in Southeast Asia involves selling on Shopee or Lazada (two of the region’s largest eCommerce platforms) or local marketplaces like Blibli and Bukalapak ( Indonesia) and BeautyMNL (Philippines), be sure to go through each eCommerce platform’s T&Cs and guidelines for fulfillment.