The men’s grooming category in the Middle East continues to gain traction, with fragrances in particular becoming more popular among the region’s youth.
Despite declining sales of beauty products on a whole in many countries in the region, especially in the United Arab Emirates (due in large part to a drop in tourism, especially a fall in Russian and Chinese travelers and also as a result of the strong euro), men’s fragrance is said to be seeing growth. However, the exact growth rate is difficult to quantify due to the lack of data on the fragrance market in the Middle East. The segment is nonetheless said to be doing better than women’s fragrance, perhaps due to women focusing more of their beauty spend on make-up.“You could definitely say the men’s fragrance market as a whole is growing quicker than the female area,” comments a fragrance insider in the region. “Men in this region now tend to take fragrances more seriously; they would now perhaps have four or five different fragrances, whereas before they might have only had one or two.”
Tastes too, are evolving. In key markets like Saudi Arabia, home to several respected fragrance houses such as Arabian Oud and Abdul Samad Al Qurashi, fragrance has long been an important part of men’s daily grooming routine. But here global designer fragrances are seeing an uptick among male consumers who are used to purchasing traditional fragrances, according to Euromonitor. Although it should be underlined that Arabic fragrances remain popular and continue to see good growth.
Niche drives growth
As with elsewhere in the world, niche fragrances are driving new trends in fragrance tastes among men in the Middle East. In 2013 for example, Tom Ford released Sahara Noir, a unisex frankincense-based fragrance, specifically designed for the Middle East market. And western niche brands like Creed, Diptyque and Jo Malone have opened stores in key retail hubs such as the UAE’s Dubai Mall, alongside local players such as Amouage from Oman. French niche fragrance house Maison Francis Kurkdijan is present, either through distributors or with its own-branded stores, in Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, while By Kilian – recently acquired by US-based Estée Lauder Companies – has opened a boutique in Doha, Qatar.
“Men’s fragrances tend to be quite safe and conservative,” comments the fragrance insider. “They are almost exclusively centred on the fougère or citrus area. But with the advent of niche fragrances, particularly in the Middle East, you now see a lot of the heavier, spicier, more adventurous fragrances in men’s perfumery. So you get a lot of oud and amber notes, which help to make the fragrance longer lasting.”
However, although prestige niche fragrances are becoming increasingly sought after by men, mass brands continue to be strong in the region. In markets such as Egypt and Turkey, direct-selling beauty companies like Avon and Oriflame continue to gain market share, as consumers are attracted to unisex offers or one-off gift giving purchases.