NEW YORK -- With the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the beauty industry is focusing on new ways to do business.
Only two years ago, technology talk centered around putting UPC bar codes on packaging, allowing outgoing products to be scanned at the checkout counter. But now many firm have progressed to the testing stage for the computers that keep tabs on inventory and automatically fire off new orders to manufacturers.
The first steps are being taken toward adopting a computer network called Electronic Data Interchange, used for automatic stock tracking and replenishment.
A number of firms have either begun testing new systems with their department store partners or are contemplating the first hookup. Some companies that produce cosmetics for the mass market have a head start on prestige manufacturers because discounters like Wal-Mart have been tracking inventory for years.
Sampling techniques have also been revamped. New technologies allow for fragrance to be added to objects such as faux jewels or wood chips. The imbued items are then either mailed to prospective customers or used as an attention-getting giveaway in stores.
As for treatment and makeup, the samples keep getting larger. Elizabeth Arden is giving away the first three steps of its new Alpha-Ceramide regime with any purchase of the fourth step. "Trial before buy is still the way consumers operate," said EstÄe Lauder USA president Robin Burns. "You have to get samples into their hands."
While promotional methods are being re-evaluated, beauty companies are looking to new growth areas overseas.
Recent changes in tariff systems and distribution laws in Mexico and Japan have created new potential in these traditionally tough markets.
As many import duties went from 20 percent all the way down to zero percent on Jan. 1, the 90 million residents of Mexico became prime prospects for American-made perfumes, toiletries and personal care products.
"We even had to pay duties on artwork created here, but as these extra costs are eliminated, it will be possible to move close to having comparable prices in Mexico as in the U.S.," said Jeanette Wagner, president of Lauder's international division.
Meanwhile, a Japanese retailer's court victory over cosmetics giant Shiseido may transform the face of the personal care industry in Japan to the benefit of U.S. cosmetics firms, analysts here say.In essence, the ruling gutted Japan's long-standing dictum that all cosmetics have to be sold to consumers at retail stores by "beauty consultants" -- cosmetics salespeople.
Should the Tokyo court decision hold up and the FTC rule in favor of the retailers, trade attorney Emalee Murphy said, it could help American cosmetics companies make deeper inroads into that market.
The CTFA itself is keeping tabs on these evolving markets, as well as several issues pending in Congress.
At the forefront of change, said CTFA president Edward Kavanaugh, is getting rid of the attitude of government against business.
"We can't have globalization without the help of government," he said.
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“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia