As hyperinflation and a depreciating rupee have reduced the purchasing power of the average Pakistani and very few, if any, market segments are expected to grow annually. Nevertheless, the beauty and personal care market in Pakistan generated $4.62 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a 2.77% annual rate over the next three years. (Source: Statista.)
Perhaps one of the reasons for this sector’s growth has been the shift in consumer preferences as a result of the Covid lockdowns. During that time, many women stopped wearing make-up and began investing more time and effort in improving their skin health and choosing products that are lighter and safer for their skin. During the Covid days, social media was flooded with skin remedies that made use of basic household items to make face masks, such as gram flour, haldi, yoghurt and coffee beans. As a result, customers became more aware of the benefits of active ingredients, such as the skin oil balancing effects of Niacinamide solution, the acne prevention capabilities of Salicylic acid, the skin-lightening qualities of Vitamin C serum and the skin hydrating impact of Hyaluronic acid.
Possibly as a result of this, there has been a significant increase in new local skincare companies; prominent entrants include B&B Derma, CoNatural Pakistan and Lush Organix. The most recent addition is HER Beauty which was launched in January 2023.
Meraj Fatima, co-Founder and CEO, HER Beauty, developed her own formulations for her skincare line keeping in mind these shifts in customer behaviour and coupling it with her own enthusiasm for skin-friendly products when “indulging in self-care.” Also part of the team is HER Beauty’s co-Founder and COO, Zainab Pasha, who draws on her 20+ years of experience working with prominent skincare companies in Pakistan. Dr Arshad, a former L’Oréal product development head is another important member of the HER team, which is constantly testing, developing and inventing skin-friendly cleansers, toners, serums, and moisturisers at their labs in Lahore and Karachi.
According to Fatima, “In 2019, when I was developing my brand, my benchmarks were international skincare products, and I thought that Pakistani women deserved the same quality with a brand that was both affordable and accessible to them. Come 2023, I was proud to introduce a local brand that catered simultaneously to skin and wellness concerns.”
HER Beauty has about 13 products spread across seven categories (cleansers, toners and mist, serums, eye care, moisturisers, face oil and face masks), and there are more in the pipeline. Incidentally, HER Beauty was the first local company to create body mists with real fruit extracts, and it distinguishes its skincare line by adding a natural perfume to its products (flavours range from rose and orange to cherry) to bring a ‘feel-good’ component to consumers’ skincare programmes. This, they say, is something no other brand offers.
Fatima points out that “our products have the active ingredients and the fruit extracts formulated together – a combination of nature with science and a unique offering in the market. Most of our raw materials are locally sourced although some active ingredients have to be imported.”
The brand targets women between the ages of 18 and 40 in SECs A and B. Fatima says the brand and concept have also piqued the interest of the Gen Z demographic, with clients as young as 14 years old. “One advantage that local brands such as ours have over international brands that we are aware of the local weather and the issues that affect Asian skin. Our treatments are specifically intended to address concerns such as pigmentation, acne, uneven skin tone and oil balance.”
Fatima also adds that the local conditions of the personal care sector are problematic due to the lack of regulation that facilitates unethical and me-too enterprises to flourish, selling chemical-laden items and which fail to specify the chemicals on their product labels.
Given the above, it seems that with more and more local skincare brands emerging, Pakistan’s personal care market requires a testing and standardising organisation to ensure that purchasers can discern between ethical and unethical brands.
Although most local skincare businesses save money by limiting their sales to an online portal or placing their product range at retail stores such as Al-Fatah and Springs, HER Beauty went a step further and set up kiosks at Dolmen Mall in Karachi and Lahore’s Mashion Bazaar in order to connect with their audience directly and give them the opportunity to sample their products first-hand. For online orders, HER Beauty works with delivery vendors in key metropolitan areas, and their range is also available through e-retailers such as Vegas.pk. Another method of promotion was the launch of gift baskets containing HER Beauty’s skincare line. Brand collaborations have also taken place, and on Mother’s Day, HER Beauty teamed with local wellness business NutriLov to produce giveaway baskets. Furthermore, HER Beauty leverages traditional digital media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube) and collaborates with beauty and fashion influencers, including Waliya Najeeb, a lifestyle influencer, Mehek Saeed, a fashion stylist, and Amafah Mubashir, a yoga and well-being enthusiast.
Inclusion is a major theme that runs across all the messaging. Fatima wants HER Beauty to be a community-driven brand so that every Pakistani woman can identify with the brand’s concepts of self-acceptance, self-love, and self-care. The brand’s vision is to change perceptions about traditional beauty standards, usually limited to petite and fair women – and inspiring every woman to take care of herself. This is reflected in the brand’s website and all of its communication, which features ‘regular’ women with different skin tones and body types, encouraging women to redefine their own beauty standards. Furthermore, HER Beauty puts emphasis on mental well-being, as evidenced by their tagline, ‘Feel Beautiful’. “Once you feel beautiful, you start taking care of yourself, and that is what contributes to your mental health,” says Fatima. Similarly, with the slogan #deeperthanskin, the company has worked with Taskeen Pakistan, an organisation dedicated to advocating mental health and wellness. The company has pledged to donate a portion of its profits to a mental health organisation.
In Fatima’s opinion, the response to HER Beauty’s product line has been promising, in so far as customers have been waiting for a local brand that would offer quality at par with international brands. Encouraged by this, the team behind the brand hopes to represent Pakistan internationally in the personal care market by exporting their skincare range.