PARIS — Hot topics discussed at the Cosmeeting and Cosmetech beauty trade shows in France recently included European regulations, retailing and the spa industry.

Cosmeeting made its debut in the Paris suburb of Villepinte Sept. 17-19. Organized by ITEC France, the trade show was created to be a meeting place for beauty professionals and a showcase for cosmetics trends. The exhibition, which hosted 500 stands of manufacturers, plus raw material and packaging suppliers, drew almost 11,000 visitors.

During its run, Cosmeeting also hosted a series of conferences focusing on themes ranging from organic cosmetics to distribution’s changing face.

One talking point at Cosmeeting was the distribution of beauty products in Russia. According to Leonid Novoselky, chief executive officer of distribution network Gradient, the Russian cosmetics market is growing by 20 percent on average yearly.

“What do you need to be successful in Russia?” he asked. “You need to be brave, you need to be fast, you need to be flexible and you need good luck.”

Nicolas Vassiliadis, president and managing director of distributor Aliage, added a warning that firms wishing to establish themselves in Russia need to deal with a lot of red tape.

In another conference, Jean-Marc Alfandari, managing director of Beauty & Business and Beautyzoom.com, highlighted the link between religion and distribution, particularly when it comes to the direct-selling channel. Avon, for one, started as a door-to-door Bible sales operation, he pointed out, while the Mary Kay company values are: “God first, family and career.”

“We can see that direct sales [had] a very strong religious dimension,” he said, adding that religious symbolism is also evident in European pharmacies, which use crosses in their store signs.

Alfandari said such cultural ties can cause the exportation of retail concepts to be tricky, citing the experiences of Galeries Lafayette and Sephora in the U.S. as examples.

Another hot topic at Cosmeeting was Europe’s spa industry. Raoul Andrew Sudre, president of Aspen Spa Management Corp., for instance, said it is necessary to integrate a natural element into a spa’s design in an effort to return to nature.Also, besides targeting particular needs and well-defined groups of people, catering to the senses is key. “A spa must be a symbol of the six senses — the five senses, plus the sixth sense, which is the perception of service,” he said.

The second beauty trade show to take place in the Paris area in September was Cosmetech. Located in Chartes — nicknamed France’s Cosmetics Valley — it ran Sept. 23-24. This session, which was its fourth, attracted 215 buyers, up 5 percent from last year, and hosted 120 stands.

New to the trade show this year was a conference held at the same time, which focused on European regulatory issues pertaining to the beauty industry. Pierre Perrier, director of scientific and regulatory affairs at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, discussed the impact ingredient labeling will have on cosmetics products. He focused on the seventh amendment of the European directive, which will require brands to list any of 26 potentially allergenic ingredients, mostly used in fragrances, on product labels starting March 11, 2005. “Should we eliminate allergens for commercial reasons?” asked Perrier. “It’s out of the question.”

For his part, Claude Bouillon, former member of L’Oréal’s research committee, said the cosmetics industry also faces a serious challenge in finding alternatives to testing beauty products on animals. That ban is due to go into effect March 11, 2009.

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