Fresha: Capitalizing on the Growing Glow of the Saudi Beauty Sector

Traditional sectors like retail are in the midst of rapid transformation, with the beauty space leading the way. In Saudi Arabia, where digitization is in full swing, the beauty industry is on a monumental move toward more technology as businesses aim to redefine their operating models in response to growing customer expectations for convenience. As a result, the country has been attracting an influx of global companies disrupting traditional methods of doing business in the beauty space as they target the Gulf’s largest population and a rapidly growing economy as their next stage of growth.

Bringing Saudi beauty salons, barbershops, and spas to the forefront of that change is Fresha, a global provider of a salon booking software platform that digitizes the appointment booking process. By digitizing the appointment booking process, the company brings various efficiency gains for beauty business owners, driving tremendous growth with higher predictability and consistency. 

Besides a scheduling platform, it also provides merchants with point-of-sale to accept payments online, as well as a marketing automation tool and a beauty product inventory solution, enabling them to grow their online presence and drive a substantial amount of footfall into their beauty parlors.

With the help of AstroLabs, Fresha expanded its services in the Gulf region from its base in the UK, starting with Dubai, where it had its first regional hub. Strengthening its regional footprint and leveraging Dubai as a gateway to Saudi, laid a solid foundation for its Saudi Arabian venture. Simon Fakhoury, the head of business development at Fresha in the GCC region, highlighted that the setup assistance offered by AstroLabs helped make the Saudi market entry process easier, further enabling Fresha to double down on its expansion efforts.

“AstroLabs’ team provided invaluable support in navigating company setup challenges, leveraging their expertise and supportive team. In addition to offering office space, they assisted with visas, taxes, and understanding evolving regulatory landscapes, making the process significantly easier,” Fakhoury added.

Fresha’s solution is used by over 100,000 businesses across 120 countries, with global offices in New York City, Vancouver, Sydney, Dublin, Dubai, and Warsaw, among many more. Since its inception in 2015, it has processed over 700 million appointments and amassed more than $185 million in funding.

Growing Technology Adoption In Saudi Beauty Space

For Fresha, the driving reason behind the company’s foray into the Saudi market is the favorable economic conditions and a surging consumer base, which provide businesses like Fresha with a ready market for their services. 

The Saudi beauty market remains on an upward trajectory, spurred by increasing demand for personal care and halal-certified products, and is expected to register a growth rate of 5.6% between 2023 and 2028.

The growth is attributed to several factors, such as the growing influence of social media and deeper e-commerce reach, making beauty products more accessible to a wider range of consumers. Online sales, as a result, are bound to increase and are forecast to derive 17.0% of the total revenue in the beauty and personal care market by 2024.

The Vision 2030-led transformation has accelerated socio-economic growth, leading to a drop in unemployment rates and rising income levels. Continued rising income levels and a rapidly growing user base sustainably drive consumption levels of a comprehensive range of beauty products and services.

Fakhoury further highlighted that changing societal norms profoundly influenced the beauty industry in Saudi Arabia, resulting in a shift from gender-specific products to more inclusive ones. This gave rise to a distinct trend of male grooming.

“The beauty industry in Saudi Arabia has evolved significantly in recent years. It was largely dominated by traditional salons and spas; however, with changing social norms and increased globalization, the sector has witnessed several transformations, including the rise of modern beauty, especially in urban areas, male grooming, and the integration of technology,” she explained.

All these factors amount to a paradigm shift in the beauty space, one that’s becoming increasingly receptive to digital transformation and adapting to changing consumer preferences while prioritizing health, sustainability, and inclusivity.

Using a Localized Approach As A Blueprint For Expansion

In keeping with the vision to democratize access to a convenient, seamless salon experience, Fresha aims to foster deep market knowledge and a localized approach while leveraging a global focus to tailor its services to meet the needs of Saudi consumers and beauticians.

In doing so, Fakhoury shared that the company looks to strengthen partnerships with local payment solution providers to scale up fintech-enabled offerings. 

Besides, it plans to establish an academy for businesses to raise awareness about the benefits of improving their digital presence and the role that digitization plays in streamlining operations and thereby maximizing revenues. This comes as part of Fresha’s broader strategy to shore up its positioning and appeal to a growing number of discerning customers. 

To further understand the market dynamics, Fresha recently ran a survey to keep its fingers on the pulse of Saudi customers. “This helps us update Fresha offerings and features to meet partner expectations while staying true to Fresha’s core goal of transitioning the beauty industry online and providing the best experience for businesses and their patrons,” Fakhoury illustrated.

By establishing meaningful connections with Saudi consumers, Fresha looks to strengthen its customer base and increase its footprint in a market ripe for disruption, playing a vital role in propelling the Kingdom’s ascent in the global beauty industry while nurturing its digital economy.