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Intercos Turns 40

The world color specialist among suppliers celebrated its 40th anniversary with a forward-looking trend presentation.

BOLOGNA, Italy — Intercos, the world color specialist among suppliers, celebrated its 40th anniversary with a forward-looking trend presentation that also sums up the spirit of the company’s past.

Intercos this year evolved its three-year-old Prisma Shine powder offering. In addition, it took a more holistic approach. Rather than simply displaying trend ideas or individual products, the firm presented ready-for-market collections. Intercos is also evolving its skin care catalogue, thanks to a joint venture it recently set up — Vitalab, in Naples — which allows it to produce its own active ingredients.

The company gave Prisma Shine a metallic dimension with a chromelike quality, using a pearl composition that infuses the product all the way through. This next-generation proposition is meant to give the effect of radiance, light and transparency plus added color, dimension and comfort, according to company executives.

Intercos featured new Prisma Shine categories, which now include eye, lip and face. Among the new products in the line is a gel liner.

Increasingly, the color supplier is ramping up its skin care capability through Vitalab, which is working with plant stem cells in order to create its own active ingredients. So far, six or seven have been made. “It’s color science and skin science living in harmony,” said one company executive. 
One outcome is a gel lipstick infused with moisturizing ingredients. 

While Vitalab is charged with finding active ingredients, the development work for skin care products is done at Intercos’ CRB arm, which was founded by Nadia Avalle, the late mother of Intercos’ founder and president Dario Ferrari. His mother was a pioneer in the Swiss skin care scene. In the last five years, the sales of CRB has gone from 10 million Swiss francs to about 46 million Swiss francs, or about $11 million to $50 million at current exchange. 

Simone Gibertoni, CRB’s general manager, explained the company relies on four innovation platforms: in Switzerland, Europe, China and the U.S. 

“CRB is focused on face products and some body,” said Gibertoni, adding it’s not the case with toiletries. He described the company’s mission as providing “high-performance care. It’s all about efficacy.

“The next step is to complete our global offering and continue development in Asia,” added Gibertoni.

Intercos’ skin care business grew 40 percent in 2011 to 42 million euros, or $55 million at average exchange for the period. 

Another area of development for the company is its pencil business, which generates 22 percent of Intercos’ revenues.

Intercos showcased four paradoxical trends for color cosmetics, with two contrasting beauty collections per trend. The collections for all seasons include Handsome Beauty, which provides makeup solutions for today’s gender-bending, androgynous times, Pure Detox (Tranquil Beauty) and Electric Intox. Fall-winter collections included Crave Couture (Luxurious Beauty) and Uber Femininity (Amplified Beauty), while spring-summer offerings included Loud Impact (Shocking Beauty), Supersonic Signals (Futuristic Beauty) and Raw Appeal (Glowing Beauty). For the latter, there was an emphasis on earth-inspired, natural tones such as copper.

Each look, which has a link with fashion, was exemplified with a range of facial products and a diagram showing how they could be used on a face. Company executives described makeup as this season’s “must-have accessory,” noting that color creates emotions people can identify with.

Ferrari is upbeat about 2012, since many of his major customers are moving ahead with large projects. It’s projected the firm will register sales of $450 million this year, up from $375 million in 2011, a year Ferrari considered “acceptable” but not necessarily satisfying. Last year, Intercos’ business in the U.S. grew 20 percent over 2010. 

“The U.S. was a good number, [but it was] the most disappointing in growth compared to Europe and Asia,” continued Ferrari, adding China was particularly strong in the skin care category.

In Europe, Intercos’ strategy includes building on private label, since the masstige category has been suffering for the past few years and the mass segment has been gaining in strength.

Intercos will open in the Brazilian market in June with operations directed by staff in the company’s Congers, N.Y.-based facility.

Turning his attention east, Ferrari said the company is very focused on Asia in general, particularly Korea and China, the latter of which is very strong in pencils and skin care for local markets.

“Korea is doing very well for us,” he said. “Japan is a difficult market, but to succeed in Japan means we understand Asia.”

Intercos also is thinking about establishing a presence in Tokyo.