By Zsarlene B. Chua

WHILE IT IS no secret that almost half of every beauty section in any Philippine-based store is dedicated to whitening products, there seems to be a growing movement focusing on anti-aging products and Watsons Philippines is riding that wave.

Watsons wants younger people to think about anti-aging products

“[The anti-aging segment] could be bigger, I mean if you look at the category segments, you would say whitening is up there and anti-aging, you would say is relatively less developed. So if you look at markets like Thailand, it’s a much closer index,” Maita Fay A. Santiago, Watsons Philippines trading director, told BusinessWorld during the launch of the personal care store chain’s campaign against aging on Aug. 4 at the Podium in Mandaluyong City.

Currently, she said, that the anti-aging segment is around 20% of the whitening segment — the uncontested top segment — in Watsons stores and it’s mostly because Filipinos are late in getting in on the anti-aging. Ms. Santiago said that Filipinos typically become “aware of it during their 40s and 50s but in markets where it’s really much developed, they start talking about it earlier.”

At least one study shows that skin aging starts earlier than most people think. According to a 2015 study led by American skin care brand Olay, which studied the “genotypic and phenotypic science” that “examined women in nearly every decade of life — from their 20s to their 70s — across ethnicities,” aging starts as early as 20, a point where there is already a “decline in antioxidant response” in a subset of Caucasian women (

Watsons is now holding a sale on these anti-aging products — from hair care products to ingestibles — to encourage more people to start their anti-aging routine. As Ms. Santiago noted, aside from starting late, Filipinos also have a “superficial knowledge about it” as they usually only think about getting rid of fine lines and wrinkles instead of the whole “health and wellness proposition.”

“Moisturizers would be an easy entry point,” Ms. Santiago said before adding, “we haven’t been really putting a lot of support behind it. I think it’s the first time we’re taking it to the level of, ‘Let’s talk about it’.

“If you look at previous advertising, they’re much older and then you notice how the communication has changed now: all of our key brands are [marketing their products] to a much younger [audience],” she explained.

Another step into promoting this segment is bringing in more anti-aging products.

“For our brands, more and more we’re bringing in finds you don’t usually see in the supermarket. It’s the things you go to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea for — segments like masks which are relatively under-developed [here],” she said before adding that they are working towards bringing “better assortment across categories.”

“If we could bring it (the anti-aging segment) to 30%-40% of the whitening segment, that would be good,” she said.