EVIAN, France — "The luxury productsbusiness in the U.S. is in a form of crisis right now," declared Lindsay Owen-Jonesas he looked out at a historic gathering of global beauty chiefs attending the fourth WWD Beauty CEO Summit.

The L’Oréal chairman and chief executive officer opened four days of keynote speeches and panel discussions the evening of June 23 with a tandem presentation featuring his L’Oréal colleague Beatrice Dautresme, executive vice president of strategic business development. Her speech, focusing on the need for global beauty marketing to become more cultural, was introduced and set up by Owen-Jones, who posed a simple question. "Is there a crisis of our brands and our products, or is this a crisis of our distribution," he asked, while pointing out that the problem is not as simple as consumers trading down in tough times. In some markets with multiple channels, there are cases where higher-priced products are outselling more affordable versions. In some markets, the high-priced segment is growing quickly and inothers it remains soft.

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