According to Statista, the global beauty industry is set to deliver an impressive 8% sales increase in 2023 and exceed $571 billion. Industry efforts to align with mega trends such as holistic wellness, self-expression and sensory experiences are paying dividends, and recent media buzz around concepts such as K-Beauty and J-Beauty have kept consumers primed.
K-Beauty, originating in South Korea, brought the importance of skin health to the world’s attention. Its quest for a healthy glow gave rise to brightening ingredients such as propolis and hyaluronic acid. J-Beauty from Japan shifted focus towards the pursuit of smooth, supple and plump skin through proper cleansing, hydration and protection. Positioned as ‘one-to-watch’ in 2023 by global consumer forecaster WGSN, A-Beauty showcases Africa’s natural resources, ancient wisdom and traditions and offers a range of products that cater for consumers seeking more nuanced approaches to skincare – harnessing ingredients considered to be highly efficacious in African culture.
Central to A-Beauty’s proposition is Africa’s diverse continent, which is home to over 45,000 plant species and ingredients that are truly transformational.
A-Beauty is highly values-driven and will motivate modern consumer activists.
Growing interest in A-Beauty is also helping to accelerate category growth across Africa itself, with Statista expecting sales of beauty & personal care products to grow annually by 7.76% (CAGR 2022-2027). South Africa is by far the largest market, followed by Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia – and with one of the youngest populations anywhere in the world, A-Beauty boasts high emphasis on sustainability, transparency and inclusivity.
Head of MMR’s African and Middle East Operations, Jacqui Horsley said “the beauty industry thrives on new narratives, and there is much about A-Beauty that resonates with a global audience. People all over the world are becoming fixed on the provenance and sustainability of ingredients, and clean label propositions such as ‘seed to skin’ products.”
“Our role in the development process is to ensure that the efficacy of these products is experienced by consumers across all the senses and that brands settle on powerful sensory signatures that help them stand out and be remembered in an increasingly competitive space.”
And increasingly competitive is exactly what is unfolding. Here we showcase 8 A-Beauty brands from a growing list of players stationed all over the world.
This brand celebrates the practices and philosophies of the founder’s Nigerian heritage and offers products that tackle dry skin, eczema and other skin conditions. It uses ingredients from the African continent including shea butter, jojoba oil and aloe vera. The brand also focuses on creating ethical partnerships, jobs and economic opportunities in Nigeria and surrounding regions.
Designed to be ‘minimal and multifunctional’, the latest product in the Skin Creamery range is this Powder To Foam Cleanser that gently exfoliates the skin while removing dirt, oil and make-up. It’s enriched with baobab fruit powder and aloe vera to leave the skin more radiant without stripping it of moisture.
Translated as ‘children of the sun’, this brand celebrates the creativity and diversity of the African continent. Its product ranges are made with help of traditional healers in local communities to ensure ancient recipes are respected and preserved. It sources high-quality local ingredients, some of which have been used traditionally for centuries. Traceability and transparency are readily apparent. Tapping into the simplification trend, Uma Ora’s highly curated collection offers only one product per category – each offering multiple functions that save time, money and reduce waste. All formulations are gentle enough to work on everyone’s skin.
Taking inspiration from the founder’s Nigerian heritage, NIHA champions ingredients such as Moroccan clay, shea butter and rosehip. It offers two cleansers that cater to dry or oily skin. The products help to soothe and balance the complexion while melting away build-up, also serving as a make-up remover.
Said to draw inspiration from Cape Town’s incredible sunsets, this new A-beauty brand offers clean and cruelty-free cheek, lip and eye products made locally in South Africa and are enhanced with powerful indigenous ingredients, such as aloe vera extract, baobab seed oil and chamomile flower extract for added skincare benefits.
This brand has been founded on beauty secrets that have been handed down through generations of African tradition. It also sources from small farmers. It uses a range of active ingredients that include Rooibos, Honeybush, Buchu and Baobab – all from South Africa. It is also sourcing from other African countries, including Nkuto Butter from Ghana and wild harvested Rosehips from Lesotho.
Born during the global lockdown, AASAI is where Scandinavian minimalism meets African culturalism, with products sourced and hand-made in direct and daily contact with local communities in Uganda & Kenya. The brand takes a ‘less is more’ approach to product configuration with Baobab Oils, African Black Soap and Cow Horn Combs created from by-products of the Ugandan cattle industry.
Produced in Johannesburg, this abstract brand has developed a range of gender-neutral perfumes designed to evoke fond personal memories of the company’s founder. For example, ‘Hydrogen is my favorite element’ is a perfume that has an airy and translucent note of cathedral incense offset with ramblings in cheap Bic ink. It’s a brand that will appeal to consumers who want to be transported, even if the memories are slightly uncomfortable.
Given that Africa has the youngest population of anywhere in the world, with 70% of sub-Saharan Africa under 30, A-Beauty is born out of Gen Z and Millennial values that will not tolerate brands that lack clear values and ethics. This gives A-Beauty huge global potential and so expect to hear more about this latest beauty driver in the months and years ahead.
Join the discussion on March 7th, at our in-person event ‘Growth Makers: Africa’ in Johannesburg.
Seats are limited so click on the link below to register.