By  on August 3, 2007

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. — Many beauty manufacturers were disappointed with the retail chain turnout at this week's Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing's Cosmetics & Fragrance Efficient Program Planning Session.

Many attendees blamed the poor showing on the shrinking number of players in the market due to recent consolidation of mass retail chains, such as Rite Aid's acquisition of Brooks-Eckerd.

Charlie Bowlus, ECRM's chief executive officer, attributed the buyer falloff to the show's timing, which was pushed back two weeks than in previous years.

"I think it was just too late for many retailers," said Bowlus, who added that a couple of larger chains already had prior engagements.

Attendance overall was actually up this year, with 53 retailers and 63 manufacturers present at the show — only 13 of which were fragrance companies.

Other executives felt ECRM's proximity to National Association of Chain Drug Stores affected turnout among buyers.

"It's so close to NACDS that most manufacturers are showing the same stuff," said Scott Greenberg, Retail Service Assoc. Inc.'s vice president of purchasing. "We've been finding that over the last two years, the shows have gotten closer and closer together."

Charles Yu, Arissa Studios vice president of national sales, thinks that because NACDS took place more than a month ago, ECRM helps remind retailers of the latest offerings.

"We like this show a lot because it provides you with a good atmosphere to lock down and finalize business since you are one-on-one," said Yu.

Erez Barak, vice president of sales and marketing for Cosmeticmall.com, agreed that ECRM provides a better atmosphere to close deals.

"I feel that manufacturers have a better focus here due to the structure of the program," said Barak.

Many brands — especially some new to ECRM such as Nail Tek and German-owned Essence — liked the show's format, which involves 20-minute sessions set back-to-back over a period of three days.

"At NACDS, you hope someone walks by your booth and comes in to see you," said Stuart Williamson, Nail Tek's president. "This show gives you a chance to present to buyers one-on-one.""I find this system to be extremely beneficial to my business," said Luba Sasowski, national cosmetic manager of Pharmasave Drugs Ltd. "I am able to meet with core vendors as well as seeing an array of new products and suppliers, which would take weeks in an office setting. It is a great way to see what is 'hot' in the cosmetic industry."

Several retailers also appreciated how ECRM is broken down and category-specific.

"The show tries to provide better service by breaking it down by category to help people understand the new inventions or trends," said Cosmeticmall.com's Barak.

Ramy Jamnik of Essentials Plus especially liked the category-specific focus. "It keeps me from wasting time walking through endless aisles," said Jamnik.

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