By and  on April 23, 2010

The bitter taste of recession is lingering in the land of dolce vita.

The Italian cosmetics industry has weathered one of its most painful years in history, but recovery still appears a long way off. As previously noted, the domestic beauty consumption managed to eke out a modest 0.3 percent increase on 2009 to 9.1 billion euros, or $12.1 billion. However exports fell substantially by 9.8 percent.

During the four-day Cosmoprof trade fair that ended here Monday, Fabio Franchina, president of UniPro, the Italian association of cosmetics companies, said, “We can only see better results for 2010, but markets are getting more demanding.” While declaring cosmetics is a solid business, he emphasized the Italian industry needs to transform itself globally. Principally, manufacturers must begin to tailor their overseas efforts to the needs of specific overseas markets rather than the one-solution-fits-all method.

Paolo Bevegni, international director for Collistar, said his company is fine-tuning its communication to suit market needs. “We are using different advertising campaigns dependent on country. It’s simple, but psychologically it’s a big shift,” said Bevegni.

Franchina’s ambition is to elevate the reputation of cosmetics as an exporter alongside other Italian core industries such as fashion, food and Ferraris. Exports account for 23 to 24 percent of total business, which Franchina found grossly insufficient. He proposed the cosmetics industry should be comparable to that of shoes, which exceeds 70 percent.

“I don’t understand why Italy can’t be a driving force in the world. We need to improve and increase the business — make it as important as fashion, food and wine,” said Franchina.

Franchina revealed the association will present an industry report to the Italian government on May 20 in order to secure support for the Italian cosmetics industry. The outlook from other industry leaders is equally tempered. During an earlier interview in Agrate, outside of Milan, Dario Ferrari, chairman of Intercos said, “2010, without being fantastic, will be acceptable. Destocking by retailers has finished, but consumers are still not active. Orders don’t allow us to be too optimistic. Consumers are still not there despite retailers replenishing.”

Roland C. Pfister, chief executive officer for Swiss brand Cellcosmet, said the market was increasing after stabilizing last year.

Nicola Ostuni, president of Italian perfumeries, said, “We’re searching to animate the market by running promotions and including the consumer more. When customers feel involved, they are interested.” As part of the fair, a national beauty day was launched to encourage foot traffic in retail outlets as well as at the fair, which opened its perfume and green pavilions after-hours for the first time April 17.

Simone Destefanis, buyer for La Rinascente, highlighted the success of the Milan’s store’s podium area — a highly visible space where brands run interactive promotions. “We assist brands with new ideas to highlight product launches and attract customers,” said Destefanis.

At Sephora’s new Milan flagship, the layout is designed to radiate color and energy through a heavy assortment of makeup brands punctuated by interactive treatment and cosmetic bars. When asked about the appeal of natural cosmetics to younger costumers, Laura Schiatti, marketing director of Sephora Italy, said the most in demand aspect of new product is its ability to combine performance and pleasure with an accent on surprise. Augusto Mazzolari, founder of the high-end Italian perfumery chain, said hair care in particular was doing well.

A ray of hope came from Michele Norsa, ceo and group manager director for Salvatore Ferragamo, which launched its latest women’s fragrance, Attimo, at the fair with a lavish dinner. “The last three-and-a-half months have been better than anybody expected. The comeback of the luxury market is probably faster than expected. Consumers are more attentive to value for money, and we’re aiming for double-digit growth this year. The U.S. has surged in the last six to eight weeks,” said Norsa.

Having launched a new Blugirl earlier this year, Roberto Martone, president of ITF, was also optimistic. “We hope to recover turnover this year,” Martone said. “Our goal is to reach a 120 million euro [or $160 million at current exchange] turnover.” Euroitalia are also set to rollout a new Moschino fragrance launch in May dubbed Toujours Glamour, an eau de toilette counterpart to the brand’s existing Glamour scent.

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