Fragrances is seeing modest growth in the Middle East and Africa, albeit undermined by economic slowdown in core markets. However, demand for fragrances in the region has grown, in accordance with an overall positive trend in personal grooming, supported by rising brand availability and awareness. Gains are dependent on economic prosperity and rising levels of discretionary income however – threats to this can be expected to have a direct impact on demand, given fragrances are non-essential.
Regional growth was flat in 2019. Declining oil prices and low consumer confidence have impacted the market negatively, with an accordant fall in discretionary spending. This was most clearly illustrated by Saudi Arabia, which saw the most significant decline in value in 2019. There were positive sales performances in South Africa, Israel and Morocco, however.
Urban development and economic growth – albeit often volatile and prone to fluctuation – has seen demand rise over 2014-2019. Sales have been fueled by aspirational consumer purchasing behavior, particularly amongst image-conscious young urban adults. Brand awareness and product availability are rising across countries, in accordance with multinational expansion and modern retail development.
Middle Eastern buyers tend to be the biggest spenders when it comes to luxury fragrances, owing to the strong importance attached to fragrance due to culture and tradition, although this is now under threat as economic difficulties worsen and prompt some shift to mass products.
Affordable mass products and entry level premium brands have tended to underpin gains in Africa; major retailers typically focus on these brands, as demand for luxury brands is comparatively low.
COVID-19 stands to cause major disruption to sales in 2020 and beyond. Despite their growing popularity, fragrances are not essential products, and demand is being impacted accordingly.
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