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Beauty Buyers Talk Must-haves

Executives shared what was on their to-find lists at the most recent edition of Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna.

BOLOGNA, Italy — Buyers were happy to be back at Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna, which ran from April 28 to May 2.

“It’s great to actually get out to a live show again,” said Shawn Whiffler, portfolio manager for personal care at Clicks, based in Cape Town, South Africa.

“We’ve been very much starved of innovation in the industry — and even more so in Australia, after spending so much time locked down in Melbourne, working remotely,” added Lizzy West, head of product development at Mecca Brands. “At Cosmoprof, things are so much quicker, because you can experience the textures, ask the questions. You have the full sensorial elements and can make decisions quite quickly.”

Here, a roundup of what retailers from the world over were looking for at the trade show.

Shawn Whiffler, portfolio manager for personal care at Clicks, of Cape Town, South Africa, with 800 stores.

“We are a health and beauty retailer and need to attract customers from grocers and other specialized stores, so we need differentiation,” Whiffler said. “You find that at a fair like Cosmoprof.

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“Already on the first day, we’ve seen some very good things, which we’re excited about — some fun brands [with] glitter, UV and bright colors,” he continued. “The first customers that have come out of the starting blocks are the young [ones]. They want more than what they had before COVID-19 — bright colors, glitter, different hair color. So you’re looking for bigger nails and eyelashes, more color, newer shades. On top of that, we are looking for skin care. Customers hear about different formats and formulations, but all they want to know is what it’s used for — what’s the main ingredient and why you should be using it.

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“I’m looking at cosmetic accessories, not much is new there, [and] fragrances,” the executive said.

Some brands he mentioned included Doll Beauty for lashes, Marc Anthony in hair care, Bye Bye Blemish for skin care and Eveline Cosmetics.

Lizzy West, head of product development at Mecca Brands, of Melbourne, Australia, with 109 doors and an e-tail platform.

West walked the halls searching for products for Mecca Brands, the retailer’s private label line with four brands.

“What we’re sourcing for varies by brand, and its brand and product philosophy that is unique to each,” she explained. “In general, we are seeking skin care technology — the cutting-edge of new high-tech actives, highly effective, clean beauty formulations and the like. Sourcing componentry is important to us.

“And finally, looking for the weird and wonderful,” West said. “Cosmoprof is quite magical for wandering the halls once you’ve ticked everything off your list and are just going for a wander and finding those strange little curios that can be a seedling of an idea.”

Laura Reyes Palomo, marketing director of Tik Tek, of Mexico City, with a network of 30 retailers, including Costco, Walmart, Liverpool, Sally Beauty and Sears.

Laura Reyes Palomo’s scouting in Bologna was multilayered, encompassing different categories and price points. The executive mostly focused on finding accessible solutions for the Mexican market, as she acknowledged that the average spending capacity for beauty is limited. The key target was skin care and hair care priced between $8 and $10.

To optimize the search, for the first time, Tik Tek’s team flew to Bologna, Italy, with a buyer from one of its key retailers, Sally Beauty, which alone has more than 250 doors in Mexico. “For us, this is very convenient; it saves a lot of time, because if [the buyer] sees something she likes, we [import] directly,” Palomo said.

While accessible prices were key for a partner like Sally Beauty, Palomo found other higher-priced solutions fitting for the retailer Liverpool, for instance. These included a spray foundation by That’so, which she described as being among her favorite discoveries at the trade show.

Palomo additionally looked for affordable skin care rich in hyaluronic acid and collagen.

Nyakio Grieco, cofounder of Thirteen Lune, a Los Angeles-based e-tailer

Nyakio Grieco, at Cosmoprof in Bologna for the first time, described Thirteen Lune as the first “truly inclusive beauty retail platform.”

“I’m excited to be here,” she said, adding that was as a retailer, as well as a skin care brand founder of 20 years keen to see new innovation and technology.

From the Thirteen Lune perspective, Grieco said: “It’s so exciting to be here to discover what’s next, especially in relation to founders of color who produce sustainable and clean products for everyone. I’m obviously very drawn to brands that are really speaking to inclusivity and cultural relevance. But I also really love science and innovation — that intersection of tech and beauty. I feel there’s so much more coming to the scene.”

Dima Matta, head of beauty product development at Apotea, a Stockholm-based e-tailer

“I’m here first of all to get inspired, because for two years, I haven’t seen anything new — everything stopped,” said Dima Matta, who works for Sweden’s leading online pharmacy Apotea. As her search’s focal point was sustainability, she found many brands moving in that direction with natural ingredients and recyclable packaging, but “not so much new” in terms of concepts. Matta’s primary aim was finding skin care, hair care and intimate care solutions. “But also innovation in cosmetics products,” she said, explaining that two years’ worth of online meetings pushed Apotea’s customers to buy more makeup and skin care.

“They are more open to try something new, even from unknown brands, while before the focus was on famous ones,” she said, adding that customers are opting for lower price points.

Matta focused on scouting European labels. “I worked with China, and with COVID-19, we didn’t get our products, or they didn’t have recycled plastic bottles or paper packaging. Then, the prices went up. We couldn’t control anything, so what we’re trying to do is to work with firms closer to us.”

Rajesh Gosalia, chief executive officer at Bait Al Arab, of Dubai, with two doors

Rajesh Gosalia looked for new brands in fragrance, vegan cosmetics and skin care, the categories his retailer mostly trades in. Particularly, he was aiming to answer the demand for vegan formulations booming in his market now and that “was not existing before COVID-19,” Gosalia said. His expectations were met at Cosmoprof, where he was impressed by the plethora of vegan and organic brands on display. Overall, the executive also had his eyes set on Italian labels specifically. “Italy has something very special — unique products and different tastes,” Gosalia said.

Nader Ali Al-Abed, executive manager at Al-Abed Cosmetics, of Saudi Arabia

“I’m after newness, because if customers don’t see it, they will get bored of coming in our stores,” said Nader Ali Al-Abed, who has run his namesake business for almost three decades, offering everything from body products and shampoos to makeup and fragrances. At Cosmoprof, he sought out formulations that can address specific skin conditions, such as acne, but also high-end products across categories as long as they featured natural ingredients, which during the pandemic have been increasingly in demand from his customers.

Suzie Wokabi, founder of SuzieBeauty and consultant, of Nairobi

Suzie Wokabi was in attendance as part of Cosmoprof’s international buyer program. The executive said she’s always on the lookout for newness — in products or trends — “to see what’s changing in the industry, because it’s been three years since the last event. All the information we’ve been getting is online, so just the physicality of [the fair] makes a difference.”

Wokabi was looking into makeup and skin care — with an emphasis on makeup — and accessories, as well — especially brushes.


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