DUBAI: L'Oréal, the cosmetics giant, is seeking to enhance its position in the Middle East, with an emphasis on innovation and launching goods targeted specifically at this region.

The French firm is facing challenging conditions in many Middle Eastern countries at present because of the financial crisis.

"Across the GCC, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, there's been a drop in consumer spending," Anthony Ponsford, managing director, L'Oréal Middle East, told Gulf News.

"The beauty industry has certainly been affected by lower purchasing, certainly in the luxury range."

As a consequence, the multinational organisation has seen demand remain most resilient for its "mass market" offerings like Garnier, L'Oréal Paris and Maybelline.

"That element of accessibility is integral to these brands," Ponsford continued.

While high-end lines including Yves Saint Laurent and Lancôme have found the trading climate more difficult, the latter of this group has out-performed the sector as a whole by 8%.

Similarly, the growth enjoyed by Kiehl's, which recently unveiled several brand extensions, has shown how a nuanced approach can deliver results.

"It's still possible to generate a favourable market for the right product with the right innovation and by doing so gain market share," Ponsford said.

As part of the overarching corporate goal to expand its consumer base by 1bn people worldwide in the next decade, L'Oréal plans to double its current audience in the Middle East.

"They key is to get closer to all customers and animate their experience with our products," Ponsford said.

"What will be a big plus is that many of our brands are already known and have connected with the customer. We need to make that association even closer."

A primary tactic in achieving this objective is what Ponsford described as "Arabised" products, meeting the unique needs of shoppers in the area.

"Arabisation is a key element of the regional strategy," he said. "The launch of Armani Privé and the Kerahammam treatments are good examples of ones we hope to repeat in the future."

"Certainly, this fragrance is the launch pad for more to come from us. Right down to the packaging and the logos, we created something that was reflective of this region."

Data sourced from Gulf News; additional content by Warc staff