PARIS — Top executives in Europe’s major companies see the last 25 years as yielding evolutionary change.
This story first appeared in the November 8, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Gilles Weil, vice president in charge of L’Oréal’s luxury products division, ticked off the high points as the evolution of active ingredients; improvement in the knowledge of skin’s properties; globalization and the need to adapt to different cultures; more sophisticated products; an evolution of textures for skin care and makeup; a wider range of customers, including younger people in Asia and more mature customers in Europe and the U.S.; the advent of treatment for men, and the consolidation of big players to three or four in the world, making for fierce competition.
He also listed the emergence of segment specialists, including makeup artists and niche brands.
Patrick Choël, president of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s fragrance and beauty division, said, “The first important thing in the past 25 years in the beauty industry is the constant growth of business. Choël added that there remains strong growth potential, and that the beauty market is far from saturated. Choël described another major change as the consolidation of small independent companies like Sephora and Marionnaud. “Twenty-five years ago, there were more midsized and smaller companies than we have today, he said, adding that the third factor is product proliferation. “It is good because it shows people want variety [and quality],” he said. “What’s bad is that sometimes there is an excess and not all products are always legitimate…The level of quality has risen enormously over the past 25 years.”
Chantal Roos, president and ceo of YSL Beauté, sees the greatest evolution of the last 25 years in the sophistication and satiation of consumer tastes. “Now there’s more product and the choice is so huge,” said Roos, who had launched Opium and YSL’s other beauty entries, then masterminded Issey Miyake’s and Jean-Paul Gaultier’s entry into the fragrance market. “People are saturated.”
Christian Courtin, president and chief executive officer at Groupe Clarins, sees the major change as the improvement in quality and effectiveness of skin care. Marketing also has improved, but “unfortunately the trend is to launch and launch and launch. There is an increasing number of me-too products with too little creativity. When I started working in this industry, there was a code of honor. People were too proud to copy products.”
Courtin is proud of Clarins’ role in introducing UVA sun filters and the consumer is now fully cognizant of the dangers of sun damage. He observed, “Every time we learn something new about skin, we can go in another direction for skin care.”