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Routes to Market in the Middle East

If the Middle East is not already in your expansion plans, it likely will be very soon.

The region’s beauty market is very distinctive and has seen rapid growth since 2020 representing around 6% of the global industry.

Sephora has long led the field in beauty retailers and further put Middle East beauty on the global map when they originally launched Huda Beauty in the Dubai Mall store in 2011 and helped launch the brand and the woman to the global beauty icons they are now.

But when it comes to the best entry strategy and routes to market there are various key aspects to consider, and it’s very possible you will need to re-think and regionalise a lot of what is currently in place as the region has many nuances to navigate for success.


It’s important to recognise when you consider the Middle East whether you are referring to the entire region of 19 countries, the 7 GCC countries or a more local approach of Dubai.


Every country has a very different consumer mix and buying habits, different retailer positioning and presents its own specific compliance and operational needs. It’s these elements that will often impact and determine your entry strategy and therefore potential routes to market based on feasibility, timelines, and profitability.

Depending on your planned regions the Middle East offers routes to market that hit various touch points for a brands overall awareness, positioning and success.

  • E-commerce

    E-commerce is growing with rapid demand post-covid but with much of the region operating purely offline pre-2020 and general SLA for customers lacking some sophistication, for now the dominant cross-border pure-players hold the market share in this sector.

  • Treatment with Retail

    Where the Middle East does, however, offer a stronghold is with the abundance of salons, aesthetic clinics, and luxury spas.. ‘Treatment with Retail’ can be a brands’ winning formula, it’s estimated around 40% of the 14.3M tourists visiting Dubai each year come for cosmetic treatments, that’s in addition to the almost $1Bn in spa revenue of which 58% is spent by domestic visitors!

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