Personal-Care Firms Uncover New Markets

Peter Evans and Caitlan Reeg, Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2014

Personal-care companies have discovered a hidden market: veiled hair.

German consumer-goods maker Henkel AG is touting its new Gliss Restore & Refresh shampoo as the world’s first hair-care product to address problems caused by the lack of ventilation under a head scarf, including split ends, itchy scalp and unpleasant odor. British-Dutch rival Unilever PLC is also targeting the market with its Sunsilk shampoo. And hair is just the start.

After years of pushing Western-designed shampoos and deodorants in the Middle East, the world’s biggest personal-care companies are changing course and selling products made specifically for local consumers’ tastes.

Procter & Gamble Co.’s Olay line targets Persian Gulf customers with skin-lightening creams. A recent campaign by Beiersdorf AG’s Nivea brand collected love stories from mostly female Middle Eastern writers to market its Sensual Musk body lotion.

Unilever, the world’s second-largest consumer-products company, after P&G, has tweaked best-selling products such as Axe deodorant and Sunsilk shampoo with local woody or sweet fragrances and made some packaging shinier, the company said.

The goal is to woo young Middle Easterners with cash to spare. Consumer spending in developed markets, by contrast, is still rebounding from the financial crisis.

“If you want to go with growth, you want to go with the Muslim market,” said Shelina Janmohamed, vice president at Ogilvy Noor, a London-based Muslim marketing agency owned by WPP PLC.


The global Halal market–products made to be permissible under Islamic law–is valued at $2.1 trillion, according to a 2013 report by the Halal Industry Development Corp., a government-sponsored trade group based in Malaysia. Roughly 9% of that goes to Halal cosmetic products, one of the fastest-growing categories.

Halal cosmetic products are prohibited from containing any pork byproducts such as pig-fat derivatives, which are used in some makeup brands, or the proteins used in some shampoos. They also shouldn’t contain alcohol, which is forbidden under Islamic law.

Marketing by major personal-care companies directly to Muslim consumers is still in its infancy, according to Ogilvy Noor’s Ms. Janmohamed, who likens the situation to the untapped Hispanic market in the U.S. 20 years ago. Still, some campaigns have started to appear, including an ad for Unilever’s Sunsilk shampoo in which no hair was shown.

So far, much of the growth has come from small firms providing specialist products in one or two countries. Now global companies are tapping the booming demand. Since 2008, Henkel’s Middle East and Africa business has grown three times as fast as the company overall. Regional sales increased 17.6% in 2013 from the previous year, and Henkel expects a similar performance this year.


Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • dd121

    I’m not surprised this is happening but what a sad commentary. Grocery stores didn’t have a Mexican section when I was a boy.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    Now they’re catering to Muslim demands? I find it impossible to take anyone who believes in that primitive Stone Age religion seriously.

  • Anglo

    It’s always about the money. There are approximately 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. The Muslim consumer represents a significant opportunity for businesses and marketers.

  • David Ashton

    “Is it haram [forbidden] for a Muslim girl to wear perfume?” Have look at the interesting quotes from Aladino in Yahoo Answers.

  • Oil money coming back to the West. With no oil the camel jockeys would have no money. Simple as that, except that the West has imported millions of these monsters into formerly white countries, where they mooch off the civilization our ancestors built, and demand that we become muzzies too. If the New World Order globalists didn’t control everything, these sand monkeys would not be here to begin with.

    • Rhialto

      If the New World Order globalists didn’t control everything, these sand monkeys would not be here to begin with.

      That brings up a pertinent quote of H.P. Lovecraft, from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward:
      “I say to you againe, doe not call upp Any that can not put downe; by the Which I meane, Any that can in Turne call up somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use.”

      The spelling is 17th century English, but the advice is relevant today, and New World Orderlies ignore it at their peril.

  • Anna Tree

    Consumerism is really just one more dogma of the liberal leftist religion.

    Consumerism is a slavery of the masses. The top elites selling their things, need slaves, a lot of slaves, always more slaves to buy their things, because they always want more money, not that they really need it, just for ego of numbers, a la Uncle Scrooge (Donald Duck’s uncle). And that means bringing more immigrants in our countries or accepting/pleasing/flattering other races/cultures, including those that intend to crush us all. When the god of mammon fawn on the god of diversity.

  • Katherine McChesney

    A few years ago when I worked for a book store in Santa Monica I had to wait on a young black muslim female in a black robe and veil. The stench emanating from her body odor almost made me throw up. I had to walk away several times to catch my breath she stank so.

  • JP Rushton

    These people are religious fundamentalists. Where are the christian hating secularists now?

    They all seem to disappear when a woman in a veil comes along.

  • IstvanIN

    Selling Muslim-orientated products in a Muslim country is fine. Its when there is a market for those products in our nations that we have a problem.

  • JackKrak

    Maybe the Muslims should start with basics like soap before they move on to things like this

    • model1911

      And toilet tissue, in lieu of bare hand.

  • r j p

    What do Junior and Kyle Busch’s numbers have to do with Nazis?

  • Look_A_Squirrel

    Now you, too, can smell like your husband’s favorite goat…

  • dd121

    And I thought you were joking.