Ketmanee Lertkitcha, chairwoman of the Federation of Thai Industries' Cosmetics Industry Club, who is also president of the Thai Cosmetic Manufacturers Association, said the beauty industry had managed to enjoy continued growth because all groups of consumers had become increasingly health-conscious and concerned about their appearance and wellness.
Statistics show Thailand's cosmetics market was worth about Bt250 billion (S$10.5 billion) last year, of which Bt150 billion was from domestic consumption. Exports accounted for about Bt100 billion.
"The annual growth rate ranges between 8 and 10 per cent on average. The Thai cosmetics market is expected to generate sales of Bt275 billion this year.
When not affected by factors like Thai politics or global economic conditions, the cosmetics industry has indeed boasted an interesting growth rate," she said.
To promote Thailand as a centre for the beauty industry and a trading centre in ASEAN, the Thai Cosmetic Manufacturers Association and UBM Asia (Thailand) jointly organised the "ASEAN Beauty 2015" event last week to showcase the huge potential of Thailand as an ASEAN beauty-sector hub.
Positioned as Southeast Asia's premier beauty show, the event featured not just exhibits, but also seminars and other activities.
Officially supported by several organisations, including government agencies, "ASEAN Beauty 2015" attracted more than 200 company exhibitors, reflecting strong Thai and foreign enterprise confidence in the industry's future potential, she added.
Ketmanee pointed to the fact that Thailand was now a prominent player in the world's beauty industry, with its cosmetics market now the largest in ASEAN.
The cosmetics industry can support other businesses in a way that creates jobs and income for people. It is also good for the health, fashion and lifestyle sectors, she said.
She added that when it came to potential, Thailand had what |it took to shine, particularly as |the country has herbs that could |be turned into more than 200,000 cosmetic ingredients.
She called for solid support from the government for the sector and emphasised that Thai entrepreneurs' participation in international fairs could empower Thai businesses.
Vuthichai Duangratana, deputy permanent secretary of the Commerce Ministry, said this year was an important turning point for Southeast Asian nations, as they would be transforming themselves into the ASEAN Economic Community.
Many businesses are now preparing themselves for the challenges and opportunities that the AEC is going to deliver, he said.
In such circumstances, Thailand needs to be active and make preparations for the transition, he stressed.
The beauty and healthcare sectors are among industries that will definitely survive a seamless regional trade, as Thai enterprises have been alert enough to adapt themselves to world market trends, he explained.
Manu Leopairote, president of UBM Asia (Thailand), said that after having successfully organised many beauty events across Asia, Thailand's "ASEAN Beauty 2015" had joined the list by attracting more than 200 companies and brands from over 15 countries.
Thailand is ASEAN's biggest beauty-product market, the world's largest exporter of haircare products and also the world's 12th-biggest exporter of skincare products, he said.
Today, Thailand's beauty industry is growing rapidly thanks to its increasingly sophisticated consumers, and men's growing interest in the way they look, he said, adding that when the AEC materialises later this year, the Thai beauty sector will prosper even further.