Iranian Beauty Buyer Behaviour and Demand for Haircare, Skincare Products in Iran

AUGUST 2016

Strong pent-up demand for imported hair and skin care products by brand-aware Iranian buyers.

Tehran was a reference point in the Middle Eastern beauty industry.

Brand “identity” a complex issue after 40 years of sanctions.


Important opportunities for all consumer goods companies, but especially those in beauty and haircare, are emerging in the Middle East. Iran - the 2nd largest consumer market in the region - is re-opening for business.

The trade sanctions that locked so many companies out of the market for almost 40 years have been lifted. Doors are re-opening allowing investors and consumer brands to return. Iran is well placed to regain its former position as a regional hub for the beauty and personal care sector.

The Iranian market presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for beauty and haircare companies. No major brand in skin care or hair care can afford to miss this dynamic and untapped developing market. Tehran – pre-sanctions - had been a powerhouse, a shopping and fashion capital and a reference point in the Middle Eastern beauty industry. Iranian beauty buyers, after so many years locked outside, are understandably hungry for choice and the values associated with previously unavailable foreign brands.

The beauty market is particularly attractive because Iranians are young (60% of them are under 30), urban (73% of the population) and well educated. They also enjoy greater spending power than their counterparts in other developing (such as India, Brazil, Egypt and China) markets.

Buyers of hair care, skincare and colour cosmetics want imported brands that offer superior quality and better results. But our discussions with beauty experts show that brand “identity” is a very complex issue in Iran and there are also high levels of concern with quality and safety. It is estimated that smuggled beauty products (including counterfeits of dubious provenance) could account for up to 50% of total sector sales.

Brand awareness in beauty and hair care is extremely high - even though more than half the Iranian population was born after the 1979 revolution and has only known the Iran of trade sanctions. The salon managers and hair stylists that we interviewed in Tehran for our research are very familiar with Taft, the classic hair styling brand, made by Schwarzkopf (Henkel) This 60 year old German hair spray brand was, and is, such an iconic product in Iran that hairsprays are called “Taft” in Persian .

The Iranian beauty market is unique in that the big beauty houses, that usually dominate, are not the trend setters. A different roster of companies, than what is seen in most other hair and skincare markets, is outperforming in the most lucrative beauty categories. These include both foreign and Iranian brands.

This moment will not remain for much longer. Companies are lining up to enter, with strong support and national level agreements. The fastest movers here include South Korean and Italian beauty houses.

Contact Diagonal Reports (www.diagonalreports.com) for fuller information (scope, objectives, opportunities, conclusions) on our Iranian Beauty Market and Beauty Consumer Behaviour (hair care, skin care, body care, colour cosmetics and fragrances) research project.