By  on July 20, 2007

LAS VEGAS — Cosmoprof organizers have taken a cue from mass market beauty show organizers and apparently have scored a home run.

Cosmoprof North America celebrated its fifth year in Las Vegas, from July 15 to 18, but this year's show wowed retail buyer attendees by installing Discover Beauty, a program designed to guarantee face time between emerging brands and buyers, representing stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, Studio at Fred Segal, Sephora, Nordstrom, Cos Bar, Beauty Collection and Wynn Las Vegas Apothecary. The effort has been hailed a success at mass beauty trade shows for several years, such as Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing's various shows and NACDS Marketplace, since it eliminates the chore of buyers needling through rows and rows of beauty booths to find the newbies.

One buyer, who last attended Cosmoprof's inaugural show in 2003, said this year's effort was "very productive" compared with the first, adding that at least one of the 12 exhibiting Discover Beauty participants — Skin Tech, a Swiss luxury men's skin care line — was quite newsworthy. Other standouts included Skin Nutrition from South Africa, an antiaging line, and Organic Apoteke, a natural skin care line out of the U.K.

Held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Cosmoprof overall attracted 699 companies and more than 25,000 attendees, about 30 percent more attendees than last year. The number of exhibitors remained relatively unchanged with just 20 more attending this year versus last year, said show organizers.

Educational seminars and conferences were the other attraction for Cosmoprof attendees. This year, WWD moderated a panel discussion Monday morning on how U.S. and foreign brands can best enter the U.S. market. Panelists included Claudia Lucas, senior vice president, general merchandise manager, Henri Bendel; Ed Burstell, senior vice president, general merchandise manager, accessories, beauty and all nonapparel items, Bergdorf Goodman, and Robin Coe-Hutshing, founder and creative director, Studio at Fred Segal. Approximately 250 people attended the 60-minute panel, which covered three topics — product, packaging and distribution.

On packaging, Lucas shared some of her pet peeves. "First of all, never, never underestimate packaging. It's the first thing that will react with the consumer, it's the first thing that they will ever see, it's the first experience they will have with your product. I've seen the most amazing product in poor packaging and it's a real travesty. Secondly, don't think about your product in isolation. Think about how it would exist in a retail environment. Think about how it's going to look on a shelf or a counter. Think about the other brands it's going to sit alongside. You know, take all of those things into consideration. And finally, space for retailers is at a premium. We don't have elastic package your goods in an appropriate way."Bergdorf's Burstell shared his thoughts on brand positioning. "I really think it cannot be too well-defined. I mean there are two words that I always keep right here when we think about looking at something new or entertaining the idea of bringing something in and they are 'focus' and...'edit.' And the first thing I say is, 'Tell me about it, tell me about the brand, tell me about why you think it has a niche in this market and exactly who you're trying to target.' And then, [I want them to] tell me what their expectations are in terms of a retail partner. A lot of the essence of the brand or where the brand really should be positioned comes out of those questions."

Coe-Hutshing talked frankly about her position on exclusivity: "I feel a little less strict about exclusivity than [Lucas and Burstell] because I'm in a slightly different position. I feel much more concerned about channels of distribution than I do about exclusivity partially because people shop differently on the West Coast. It's a car culture, not a street culture, and people shop in their neighborhoods and it's just slightly different.

"So I'm much more concerned about where a brand is going to position itself. We are in a different position than stores like Bendel's and Bergdorf's — Fred Segal doesn't do any advertising. We are a complete word-of-mouth store. It's sort of an anomaly in the business. We can sort of feed off of what other people do in the brand. We're parasites, basically. And so it sometimes helps to have [a product] placed someplace else. So exclusivity to me, as long as it's placed in some place of value, is not as important. These two can duke it out with their boxing gloves and then I'll just sit back and get the sale," she said.

Cosmoprof is scheduled to return to Las Vegas next year from July 13 to 15.

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