Valérie Kaminov

Valérie Kaminov, founder & managing director, International Luxury Brand Consultancy, delves into the particularities of the Russian beauty market, with some interesting insights for brands looking to enter.

Beauty has become one of the most wide-reaching and influential businesses in the world, yet one market that remains an enigma to many brands is Russia. The intricacy and individuality often overshadow the dynamism and rewards that can be achieved there. Within the cosmetics industry, Russia has emerged as a powerhouse with enviable growth figures (even during 2020) and is on course to have a value of more than $11billion this year, making it the fifth-largest market in Europe and 11th in the world. These figures, along with the Russian consumer’s passion for beauty and their love for imported brands (particularly French), make it an important market for those looking to grow globally.

Russia’s leading cosmetic chain L’Etoile is a testament to this exceptional growth. With a turnover that is more than twice the other players, the visionary L’Etoile sets the benchmark in luxury beauty retail. With more than 1000 stores, the number-one beauty website in Russia (ranks 10th in the world), 16 million monthly visitors on the web and app, along with a database of 40 million, this remarkable business has been a key driver in changing the beauty landscape for the better. Despite the pandemic, it experienced year-on-year growth and it continues to innovate the marketplace. Its recently launched 3.0 stores are designed to be atmospheric, friendly and Instagrammable spaces, which are filled with exclusive brands, the best beauty experiences and exceptionally well-trained advisors. Every detail is centred on their customer.

Russian women can spend up to 30 per cent of their salary on beauty. They are highly informed and engaged consumers who enjoy trying something new. It’s in the DNA of Russian women to take care of their skin and invest in beauty, but one of the key differences to other markets is their age profile, which is much younger. From the age of 55, there is much less emphasis on cosmetics and makeup – this bracket is normally a strong purchaser of anti-ageing products – but in Russia, women in their 30s include this category in their regimes. You also find around 35 per cent of men are regulars to the grooming departments.

Product selections are also widening, with the established import brands being challenged by a revival in domestic cosmetics, while innovation from all around the world is proving popular. There is an increasing desire for natural, organic and cruelty-free that is being fuelled by the younger generations and companies such as L’Etoile who are very committed to sustainability.

To succeed in Russia, the first step is to understand the methodologies you use elsewhere will need to be re-worked and tailored – not just to specific logistical and operational needs, but to the unique character of the Russian consumer and distribution channels. This is a market that is impacted by global influences but driven by distinctive consumer preferences – a fact that has been clearly recognised by the beauty retail sector, which is one of the most customer-centric in the world. Whether in-store, online or via other channels, every element of strategy and product selection is defined and refined by constant communication and monitoring feedback.

One impressive adopter of this approach is the multi-award-winning Shopping Live Russia, which has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2010. With a reach of more than 36 million households, its mission is to turn over the traditional ideas of TV Shopping in Russia via the use of modern technologies, advanced quality of service and a hand-picked selection of products, including many European brands. Beauty and wellness represent the third-largest share of its sales, a position created by an unwavering emphasis on quality, discovery, entertainment and engagement with loyal customers. Partnering with Shopping Live Russia can reap impressive rewards – it takes time to get the foundation right but when you do, sell-out sessions are the norm.

High costs and regulations have often put off the younger indie brands but a recently launched cross-border platform is changing that. The United Europe Group’s is a new channel that provides a valuable opportunity for brands to digitally connect with the more progressive Russian customer while also satisfying their desire to discover the coolest, niche cosmetics around the world.
A win-win for all.

Valérie Kaminov

Valérie Kaminov is the founder and managing director of the highly successful International Luxury Brand Consultancy based in London and Paris. For more than 25 years, Valérie has been at the forefront of the global cosmetics industry and has worked with a vast array of luxury, premium and niche beauty brands and fragrances. With her extensive expertise, commercial acumen and visionary approach IL Brand Consultancy has become one of the most sought-after management and distribution agencies specialising in luxury beauty.