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Русская женщина тратит 12% дохода на косметику

Ох ни фига себе...

"A Russian woman will spend all her salary on a Chanel perfume," said Anna Dycheva-Smirnov, an industry researcher. "Russian women are very particular about how they look, even if they are just going to the bakery."

"Русская женщина истратит все свои деньги на косметику от Шанель."

For Russian Women, Whiff of the Good Life
$5 Billion Cosmetics Industry Entices Consumers With 'Small Joys' of Luxury
By Susan B. Glasser
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, April 29, 2004; Page A19

MOSCOW -- Galina Vladimirova is a believer in what she calls "the Russian cult of makeup." Tucked neatly inside her purse one recent day were her latest acquisitions of lipstick and eye shadow, her first Armani purchases. They were more than twice as expensive as any makeup she had ever bought, even for a woman who spends up to $150 a month on cosmetics.

"It makes me happy every day to know they are there," she said. "It's an accessible part of the good life."

In the beauty boomtown that is Moscow today, she is no exception. Just a generation removed from the time when their mothers and grandmothers resorted to the peasant trick of reddening their cheeks with beets, Russian women today spend twice as much of their income on cosmetics as Western Europeans do -- 12 percent of their entire paychecks on average, according to research firm Comcon-Pharma.

Perhaps no other cosmetics market in the world is as hot as Russia's, which has quintupled in size over the past four years and is forecast by industry analysts to triple again, to $18 billion, by 2010.

The "lust for beauty," as the weekly Russian business magazine Expert dubbed it, is more than a success story about what happened when consumer culture met pent-up Soviet demand. It is also very much about the identity of Russian women in economically uncertain times and how they have rejected Soviet stereotypes while refusing to embrace American-style feminism.

In a country where the new archetype is the Cosmo Girl -- and where circulation of Cosmopolitan magazine is higher than in any place outside the United States -- makeup is still about liberation, about affordable luxury and about what's required to get and keep a man.

"Russian beauty is beauty made natural," said Larisa Sidorova, an analyst at the Validata market research firm who conducted extensive focus groups last year on Russian women's attitude toward beauty. "Russian women differ from other women in the sense that they want miracles from cosmetics."

At Arbat Prestige, an oasis of self-improvement on Lenin Prospect, the owner claims that more money is spent on makeup per square foot there than in any other cosmetics store in the world.

"What can I say?" said Natasha Lutsenko, an impeccably turned-out teacher wearing a leather coat with a fluffy collar as she shopped for a birthday present for her mother. "There's a cult of femininity in Russia now."

Never mind the mystifying economics of it, how a $20 tube of lipstick wouldn't seem to make sense as a mass-market proposition in a country where average salaries have only just now hit $200 a month. In this, as in so many things, Russia has taken its own path, and it definitely includes luxury lipstick, eye shadow, mascara, face creams, body lotions and other miracles in a bottle.

"A Russian woman will spend all her salary on a Chanel perfume," said Anna Dycheva-Smirnov, an industry researcher. "Russian women are very particular about how they look, even if they are just going to the bakery."

At a time when at least a quarter of Russians live in poverty, the country manages to spend 1.3 percent of its gross domestic product on cosmetics -- compared with an average of just 0.5 percent in Western Europe, according to a report this winter by consulting firm Ernst & Young. Researchers at Comcon-Pharma found that 76 percent of all female Russians older than 10 use makeup.

The total Russian cosmetics market reached more than $5.2 billion last year -- even more, for example, than the country's consumer electronics sector. And it is continuing to grow at a rapid pace with annual increases of at least 25 percent, according to several analysts.

Some sectors, such as direct sales in the Russian provinces by U.S. cosmetics firms Avon and Mary Kay, are still recording annual growth rates of 50 percent to 80 percent -- a full decade after they arrived in Russia. Homegrown products are also booming. Kalina, the leading Russian firm and maker of the Black Pearl line of face creams, reported a 73 percent rise in profits last year on sales of $157 million.
Now ranking just behind France, Germany and Britain in total sales, Russia could soon become the European cosmetics capital. Arbat Prestige, a Russian company that has built the largest chain of cosmetics and perfume stores here, plans to invest $500 million in new stores just over the next two years.



"Finally everybody realized what's happening here and started to pay attention to this market," said Dycheva-Smirnov, vice president of Staraya Krepost, a marketing research firm that specializes in cosmetics. "The new birth of the Russian cosmetics market is only 10 years old. It grows very fast, just like children when they are small."

Vladimir Nekrasov is preparing to bet half a billion dollars on it. Nekrasov, 43, president of Arbat Prestige, forecasts that his 14 stores in Moscow will take in $250 million to $300 million this year -- up from $56 million three years ago.

"Life is hard here, people are tired and they spend more money here than people in other countries on this," Nekrasov said of the "small joys" he sells in his stores. "It's a sip of oxygen for people in conditions of this dirty and exhausting city."

His shops are something of a wonder in a place unaccustomed to service with a smile. Friendly consultants answer questions and offer personalized makeup advice. He stocks as many as 50,000 different items and arranges luxury products on one side of the store, more moderately priced brands on the other. Nekrasov says he offers Russian women "emotional support" and "their piece of happiness" along with the aromatherapy and cellulite-fighting potions that would have been impossible to obtain in the Soviet past.

In fact, he evokes that era for customers who are nostalgic for it but who are also grateful for a choice in lipstick colors that ranges beyond pink.

A well-known collector of socialist realist art from the Soviet period, Nekrasov has hung canvases from his personal collection all over his Moscow shops -- including one room in his Prospect Mira store that features World War II portraits of Stalin and the bloody battle of Stalingrad.

But for many women, the voracious and seemingly unquenchable desire for makeup is all about overcoming that Soviet past.

"We spend a huge amount of money on cosmetics in Russia because, first of all, it was not long ago when such variety came to Russia. So for many it feels like, 'Finally we got it!' " said Maria Taranenko, beauty editor for the Russian edition of Elle magazine.

Indeed, there's hardly a woman in Moscow of a certain age who doesn't remember the opening of the first real cosmetics store here in 1989, an Estee Lauder shop still known fondly as the "Golden Rose." Many can recount how they stood in line there, or when exactly they bought their first tube of Lancome lipstick. One woman recalled placing her expensive moisturizer in a prominent place in her living room, so all who visited would see it.

Natalya Arkhipova remembered the strange eye affliction that started to plague her girlfriends not long after they bought their first French mascara in the early 1990s. Their eyelashes became stiff, as if they were popping out of their heads, and they couldn't leave the house for days. All because they had no idea how to properly apply the stuff -- they had smeared their lashes with multiple coats of mascara and then refused to wash it off, because it was so expensive.

"It was our first experience, no one taught us," said Arkhipova, a nutritionist. She, for one, was hooked. "I saw myself turning from an ugly duckling to a swan. Like all Russian women, I would save and save money for cosmetics."

Sidorova, the pollster, said the obsession with cosmetics is "from Soviet times, when people focused on the way they are perceived by others. Russians lack confidence from that era, and lack of confidence means they do not allow themselves to be natural."

In the post-Soviet era, the ideal in Russia has become more strongly feminine, according to Sidorova, who said that participants in focus groups in several cities came up with the same definition of a Russian beauty: a woman in a dress, with long blond hair, elaborate makeup and hairdo, and high heels.

"We are not moving toward the unisex look like in the rest of the world, which connects to a negative attitude toward feminism," she said. "We are moving in a different direction."

Not long ago, she recalled, Dove soap tested its slogan here, "You are beautiful the way you are." It was, Sidorova said, "a complete failure to Russian women. They don't believe in beauty itself. Beauty should be made."
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