Beauty that Lasts

Southeast Asians want sustainable beauty products - as long as they are affordable


New beauty brands have emerged in recent years to cater to a growing market of consumers – environmentally-conscious shoppers who are looking for beauty products that are good for them, and good for the Earth. Even large industry players are hopping onto the bandwagon, introducing sustainable products or product packaging and aggressively marketing them to be so.

In light of World Environment Day on the 5th of June, Milieu Insight released the findings of its ‘Sustainable Beauty’ study, aimed to find out their opinions of sustainability claims, and how receptive beauty product shoppers in Southeast Asia are towards sustainable beauty products.

The majority of Southeast Asians are receptive towards sustainable beauty products, Singaporeans least so

Through a series of questions that asked Southeast Asian consumers about the likelihood of choosing a more sustainable option, they are generally receptive to them:

Beauty that Lasts

  • 93% of respondents are very/somewhat likely to choose a chemical and toxic-free beauty product over one that is not.
  • 87% are very/somewhat likely to choose products with 100% recyclable packaging; skew towards Singaporeans who said that ‘It doesn’t matter to me’ (24%).
  • 84% are very/somewhat likely to choose cruelty-free products, especially Filipino consumers (90%).
  • 83% are very/somewhat likely to swap to a refillable option if it’s available, but only 74% of Singapore consumers share similar sentiments.

Beauty that Lasts

  • 73% are very/somewhat likely to try a water-less beauty product (eg. shampoo bar, bar soaps), versus conventional bottled products (eg. liquid shampoo and soap).

Consumers are willing to pay more for sustainability, but affordability remains the most important

  • At the start of the survey, respondents were asked to indicate the top 5 criteria that are most important in considering a beauty product purchase
  • ‘Affordable’ emerged top of the list at 78%, followed  by ‘Natural’ (73%) and ‘Clean/ Chemical-free/ Non-toxic’ (63%)
  • While 81% said that they are willing to pay more for sustainable/ clean/ ethical beauty products, prices still have to stay within the comfortable range for consumers; in Singapore, consumers are least willing to pay more, with only 61% indicating so.

Beauty that Lasts

Consumers don’t blindly trust sustainability claims

  • 67% of respondents indicated that they ‘research more about the claims on my beauty products’ packaging to know if it’s really sustainable/ clean/ ethical’, especially consumers from the Philippines (83%) and Malaysia (72%).

Beauty that Lasts

  • Most agree  that there should be more regulations to ensure that  beauty products’ claims about being sustainable/ clean/ ethical are well-substantiated with evidence.” (88%).
  • Companies themselves also have to be transparent and clear in the communication of their products’ sustainability, well-substantiated with evidence – 86% agreed that  ‘More should be done by companies to communicate to customers how their beauty products are sustainable/ clean/ ethical.’

Methodology: Based on Milieu Insight surveys with N=1000 beauty product shoppers each in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, conducted in May 2022.