Star Tech: Confetti Group eyes personal care in emerging, frontier markets

The fledgling brand is experimenting with new fragrances and products while gauging feedback from a diverse user group in the UAE

by

Joydeep Sengupta

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Sat 14 Jan 2023, 8:28 PM

Confetti Group was founded by British national Ori Leslau, 28, in London in 2016 and has since emerged as a leading consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand owner and operator with a core focus on fragrance, skin and hair care categories.

The start-up made a foray into the UAE in 2018 after it opened an office at Deira in Dubai.


“We combine strategic investment with proactive management to foster profitable growth across our portfolio of brands. We supply to over 20 countries globally and generate a combined turnover of more than Dh100 million. We strive to become a truly global operation with category-leading brands in each of our focus categories, entrenching brands and engaging audiences for many years to come,” said Leslau, who doubles up as the CEO of the personal care company, which is targeting emerging and frontier markets.

“We seek to bring quality fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands to the world’s fastest-growing markets and deliver propositions that enhance the lives of consumers and can be accessed at affordable price points. We have significant experience within the fragrance sector, and this is the reason we turned our hand first to fragrance by launching Confetti and Riggs London,” he said.


Leslau exuded optimism about the business prospects in the UAE and the wider region in the Arabian Gulf.

“The UAE offers a unique launchpad like no other, as diverse nationalities live in this young country. We have an excellent opportunity to experiment with new fragrances and products and gauge feedback from a diverse user group. We will continue to grow our presence regionally working with leading pharmacy groups, supermarkets and beauty stores,” he added.

Though the UAE’s perfume market reached a valuation of $579.2 million (Dh2.13 billion) in 2021, it has since become saturated posing challenges for relatively new entrants.

However, Leslau is unfazed by the daunting challenges.

“Consumption of fragrance (on a per capita basis) in this region is amongst the highest in the world. It is no surprise that many international fragrance brands want to secure their share of this market. The perfume market, at least in this part of the world, is largely driven by high-end brands. With our brands Confetti and Riggs, we have focused on using very high-concentration French fragrances (to match the quality of the high-end) but delivering them at much more affordable price points. Our perfumed body spray is marketed as a ‘perfume in a can’ since the concentrations and fragrance dosages are strong enough to be used as a perfume,” he said.

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Cutting-edge research and development (R&D) hold the key.

“A lot of time, energy and resources within our business is put into R&D to maximise the success of a new product, equally as important is the experience and understanding that our team have of the fragrance sector as a whole. Whilst the UAE is a melting pot for brands, it is not, I’d say, reflective of consumer trends globally or even necessarily of the region. We collect data from consumers in the over 20 countries we are present in, but as a general rule we work to try and satisfy the unique consumer demands of each market individually,” he added.

With big fragrance brands such as Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works and others ruling the market here, how do his brands and products find their niche in this fiercely competitive sector?

“We work harder to cater for the specific demands of each market we enter. For example, the South-East Asian pallet is different to that of Eastern Europe, and our product range caters for both,” Leslau said. The major population in this region prefer Arabic scents, which are quite different from French fragrances amid a clear fragmentation in the market between local and international perfumes.

“The UAE is unique in terms of its demographic splits, but if you were to look at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region as a whole, I would say that it is split 50:50 between local brands and international brands,” he said.

Leslau cited specific areas of growth within the industry.

“There are some interesting developments in the niche fragrance space with some of the more subtle and neutral hues from European and South Korean brands starting to filter through, which is quite surprising for a region that historically has loved very strong fragrances. New formats of high concentration body mist and body spray are starting to eat into perfume sales. There is always space for new bottle shapes, new brands with purpose and new price points,” he added.

Perfumes and sprays with natural ingredients are gaining a lot of momentum in the UAE and the wider region, according to latest surveys.

“The main difference is the amount of synthetic ingredients included in the fragrance. Natural fragrances use less synthetic ingredients but they lack efficacy and longevity in many cases. The science will continue to improve and I hope that natural fragrances as a category will grow, but for the time being if you look at the world’s best selling fragrances most of them are still considered to be traditional perfumes,” Leslau said.

He also listed the difference between body mist, body spray, deodorants, roll-on, and perfumes.

“Body mist uses a high concentration of water meaning that it can be sprayed quite freely on body and clothes. Body spray is a perfumed aerosol format which gives a powerful burst of fragrance and because it is lightweight due to the (air and gas inside) is quite handy to carry around. Deodorant, typically, refers to antiperspirant ,which is a less favoured ingredient in fragrance as it physically reduces the amount you perspire and has been proven to carry health risks. Roll-on is a much loved and compact bottle with a rolling ball which disperses fragrance directly onto the skin. Perfume has a higher fragrance than alcohol concentration and is the strongest of the above formats as such,” he added.

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