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Lifestyle: Cosmetic Contact Lens Gaining Ground among Malaysians

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Malaysia’s beauty contact lens market is fast catching up with developed countries in the region such as Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, which are all exhibiting similar upward trends in the sales of these beauty accessories.

Retail tracking by research company GfK found that Malaysians spent a total of nearly US$55 million on contact lenses in 2011, of which 28 per cent was contributed by the beauty segment.

Overall, Malaysia’s contact lens industry revenue expanded by 4 per cent in 2011 over 2010, with the latest fourth-quarter takings of US$14.9 million emerging the strongest in the last eight quarters ‒ 5 per cent more than the same period a year ago. Its strong performance continued into the first two months of 2012, with sales generated in January alone hitting a record high of US$5.7 million before tapering off slightly in the second month.

“As the country progressively develops and rises in affluence, the landscape of the contact lens market has also evolved with users seeking beyond basic health care, looking to now enhance their appearance,” said Jennifer Chan, General Manager of GfK Malaysia.

“Our latest findings revealed that beauty lenses are becoming increasingly popular, with consumers in Malaysia spending nearly US$14 million or 28 per cent more on this segment in 2011 compared to the previous year,” she added.

Beauty contact lens comprises coloured lenses and iris enhancers. Revenue contribution from the beauty segment made up only 19 per cent in the first quarter of 2010 but jumped to 26 per cent by the closing quarter of last year.

Within the segment itself, coloured lenses made up the majority of sales at 89 per cent, although popularity of iris enhancers has surged in recent times, doubling in sales last year over 2010.

“Nowadays, it is very common even for people with perfect vision to put on a pair of cosmetic contact lens to follow today’s biggest fashion and style trends originating from Korea and spilling across to the rest of Asia,” Chan said. “Driving consumer demands in Malaysia are the easily accessible and widely available inexpensive cosmetic lenses offered by the growing number of manufacturers in the market, with the fastest growing segment being (the) quarterly lens type, which is more affordable for regular usage.”

According to GfK reports, the contact lens industry in Malaysia welcomed nine new players since the beginning of 2010 to reach a total of 35 contact lens brands available in the market today.

In the cosmetic segment specifically, the 19 brands offering such lenses two years ago have grown to 25, with the latest entrants hailing mostly from South Korea and Taiwan.

“Until the next breakthrough in eye care technology, the contact lens industry will continue to be propelled by the current key drivers, which are the cosmetic and silicone hydrogel lenses,” Chan said.

“We foresee that the market in Malaysia will turn in a report card of single-digit growth by year end, with (the) quarterly beauty lens gaining importance as one of the main contributors of growth,” she added.