L’Oréal and Google discuss skincare trends in Saudi Arabia

A changing landscape by Marie Franchaud, Marketing Lead at Acquisit

Image Credit: Acquisit

During a recent panel discussion organised by Acquisit and featuring experts from L’Oreal and Google, the conversation revolved around the changing trends and key factors to keep in mind while addressing the beauty industry market in Saudi Arabia.

The panel, hosted by Astrolabs, came on the back of a market study Acquisit conducted in partnership with Standards Insights where it examined skincare consumers in KSA.

The skincare market has undergone a significant transformation in recent years with a shift in consumer behaviour driven by changing preferences and increased access to information.

What was once in KSA a niche market catering to those with medical skin issues has now evolved into a mainstream interest for a significant segment of the population, particularly women.

“The latest data from Google search and YouTube queries reveals a surge in skincare-related searches in Saudi Arabia. With over 300 million skincare-related searches in 2022, the skincare category searched grew by 71 per cent from 2019 to 2022 . It shows that consumers are keen to discover new brands.

In fact, 90 per cent of search queries on Google relate to unbranded skincare product categories. This means that people are open to discover and try new brands,” said Marie de Ducla, Sector Lead : Travel & Tourism, Auto, Tech andFMCG MENA at Google.

Companies looking to succeed in the KSA market must be prepared to adapt and provide consumers with innovative solutions and attractive branding.

One notable trend is the increasing education of Saudi women about skincare ingredients and formulas. As such, it is critical for brands to communicate effectively about their products’ benefits and science. As consumers become more discerning about the products they use, companies must keep pace with their changing needs and preferences to remain relevant.

Image Credit: L’Oreal

Social media has also played a significant role in shaping consumer behaviour in Saudi Arabia, particularly influencer marketing. Beauty has always been a social practice in the country, and social media has amplified this trend.

“In KSA, recommendations are definitely the number one purchase decision factor. The most trusted recommendations will come from beauty experts, followed by influencers, and to some extent your pharmacist, your dermatologist and friends,” said Delphine Desbouvry, Consumer & Market Insights Director at L’Oréal Middle East.

Skincare brands that can effectively leverage this and connect with consumers on social media have an opportunity to build a very loyal customer base.

“To leverage this at best, brands can use ads as a great echo box to amplify this word-of-mouth effect. What we have seen works best is combining ad-friendly formats like short videos of 15 or 30 seconds, with organic-looking content made by influencers when the brand guidelines allow it.

It allows the brand to keep the communication very familiar to their audience,” said Edouard Daou, co-founder of Acquisit.

Unlike some other markets, skincare in Saudi Arabia is mostly considered for correction purposes rather than prevention. As such, brands that offer effective solutions for skin issues are more likely to succeed in this market.

“Brands must carefully consider the evolving retail landscape in Saudi Arabia, particularly the rapid growth of e-commerce. The acceleration of online shopping in KSA has had a significant impact on the consumer journey, where online research and the influence of the ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) effect now play a crucial role in purchase decisions.

“This trend was already present before the pandemic, but it has been greatly intensified by the increased internet penetration and the proactive response of retailers and brands during the pandemic, as they upgraded or even launched new websites to provide consumers with a wealth of content,” added Desbouvry.

Finally, the purchase decision for skincare products in Saudi Arabia is also influenced by consumers’ desires to get a good deal and will often research products online to find the best prices rather than buy it full price in store. While Saudi women frequently discover skincare products in-store, they often purchase online, with 60 per cent of the population reporting making their last skincare purchase through online channels (strong DOPO effect = Discover Offline, Purchase Online).

“Nevertheless, it is important to recognise that many consumers highly value the in-store experience. These consumers often conduct their initial research offline, visit stores to try products, request samples for home testing, and seek advice from sales advisors. However, it’s worth noting that even though they may explore options in-store, they might ultimately seek out the best offers online and make their purchases through e-commerce channels,” added Desbouvry.

The retail landscape varies significantly from one region to another, with some regions having limited access to modern retail experiences. The skincare market in Saudi is in continuous evolution, with consumers becoming more discerning, educated, and influenced by social media. Brands that can leverage these changing trends, while tailoring their message to the specifics of the Saudi population and communicating their products’ benefits stand to succeed in this growing market.

By Marie Franchaud, Marketing Lead at Acquisit