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Beauty Retailers Talk Cosmoprof North America Highlights

Buyers from Space NK, Shoppers Drug Mart and Bloomingdale's weigh in on key takeaways and trends.

Back in full force, Cosmoprof North America’s 2022 iteration in Las Vegas saw pandemic-era trends come to fruition.

Retailers and market researchers agreed that the industry was largely unscathed as macroeconomic pressures rise, with time-tested phenomenons like the lipstick index in full effect.

“It’s that conjunction of beauty and wellness products. Taking care of yourself, taking care of your skin and feeling beautiful,” said Mimi Udezue, Target’s senior beauty buyer. “That’s resonating with people, even when there are things that you can’t control that are happening. People want to find ways to give themselves little moments of joy, and beauty’s an easy way we’re able to provide that for them.

Here, retailers and market researchers on Cosmoprof North America’s most noteworthy trends and how businesses are faring.

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Noah Rosenblatt, president, North America, Space NK

There’s innovation in packaging right now, which is good to see. There’s consistency, which is also good to see, and trends that we’re seeing addressing different textures of hair. There’s a little bit of innovation there, but the reality is, we’re still talking about important topics.

Our approach to business post-pandemic is exceptional. It’s about meeting customers where they want to shop. We’re finding that the consumer is really looking for one-stop opportunities across the board. Whether they’re shopping all in fashion and beauty through our luxury channel, or if they’re shopping in grocery, baby or electronics near our prestige division, we’re finding that we’re able to meet the customer where they want to shop, and from a spacing perspective is exceptional. We’re in a great, great position with both our luxury and prestige divisions. We’re definitely answering their needs.

Our partnership with Walmart in the United States is tremendous, some of our brands we’re bringing to 1,500 stores by our BeautyFinds initiative. Customers are responding.

Gwen Varnier, vice president of prestige beauty, Shoppers Drug Mart

What excites me is how the customer approaches beauty now, which is a holistic approach to beauty, a 360-approach to beauty. It’s not so much about the topical aspect of beauty, but it’s about ingestibles, what one should eat, it’s about sexual wellness, and it’s about the spa at home. They use devices at home, and they’re bringing the spa into their houses. All of those add-ons. That makes it interesting, and how the customer just grows with all those new pieces of assortments that just comes into play, which makes it super exciting for us as retailers.

During COVID[-19], we stayed open because we were an essential business. Obviously, we didn’t have that big dip that most retailers had. The thing is we’re growing, we reached our 2019 numbers a long time ago. We’re growing on top of that. We own the fragrance business, we have more than 50 percent of the business in Canada. That’s the driving force, it’s definitely the engine behind the double-digits.

In makeup, what we did here was to handpick the right brands, ones that really celebrate self-expressions and that are meaningful. That also helped us gain some market share in makeup, and usage is coming back. We are the one-stop shop at Shoppers Drug Mart because we’re a drugstore, but we also have food, we have drugs, ingestibles, baby, so many things. And we’re a 10-minute walk from every Canadian, we have 1,300 doors. People have a lot of affection for our brands.

Inflation has a lot of impact on retail prices, we see it, and we see brands that you’d know have price increases. That obviously has an impact on sales, not on prices, but on units. I don’t see a trade-down to mass, we have prestige in our own environment.

If I’m just looking at sun right now, we’re seeing that we’re doing much better in units in prestige than we’re doing in mass. The customer is still there, and ready to spend dollars. Even though prices have gone up, they’re not trading down, they’re still looking for quality. It’s still about efficacy and the product will continue to be a priority for customers. The price will be coming as a second, also because we have a very strong rewards program with 18 million active users.

Mimi Udezue, senior buyer, beauty, Target

I’m excited to see some of the international brands that have been coming in, a lot from Canada. Clean has been really interesting, especially in sun care. That’s one people have been struggling to make work, balancing efficacy with trying to keep the ingredients clean as well.

What’s working [at Target] is really continuing to lean in and differentiate, especially where we can target purpose and find joy. We’re trying to do that in many ways by finding things that set us apart, whether it’s a particular brand, a particular need that’s being met, or how we’re delivering that to our guests. The ease of shopping, that we’ve made it from where you can drive up or have whatever you want delivered, is something that’s really good.

We haven’t seen [macroeconomic pressures] hit quite yet. For a lot of categories, we’re still trying to see how high they can go because we had the full COVID[-19] boom, right? You would think the next year, things are going to slow down, but we’re having an amazing year as well. It’s still an open story in how things look and how things will trickle down, how the consumer is going to react and what they’re looking for. But even in a session I sat in this morning, something that was talked about was how even as the world comes crashing down, people find joy in beauty. That’s how they treat themselves. Sometimes, we don’t see a correlation with some of the economic pressures playing out.

Oliver Garfield, chief executive officer, Cos Bar

We had one-on-ones with the brands, and it was a great opportunity to speed date a whole bunch of brands we otherwise would not see. There was one great brand from Australia, Vahy, we liked as a fragrance brand. There’s been a number of Australian brands, innovation seems to be coming from Australia right now.

Business is good, it’s slowed down a little bit since the first quarter, which for us was just astronomical. But for the most part, a lot of people went to Europe in June, and I think that had a knock on it. The customers are there, they’re still buying high end, and I couldn’t be happier about where we are.

We’re seeing a slowdown relative to the explosive [sales] trends, which were way above anything we expected. I would say things are coming back down to earth, where we feel good and like we’re in a steady state. It’d be irresponsible if we weren’t thinking about the future, first in beauty, then in luxury, and then in the communities where so many of these consumers have moved to. That is where we want to be, people are still shopping small, shopping local high streets and main streets, spending time in Aspen, Carmel and Charleston. Those places aren’t going anywhere.

Nyakio Grieco, cofounder, Thirteen Lune

I got to walk through the Black-owned beauty space here at Cosmoprof and discover more brands for people of color, by people of color, who create for all. I love that Cosmoprof really prioritized marketing initiatives to bring these brands the visibility that they so deserve.

As a retailer, I’m really falling in love with the cross-section of beauty and wellness being one in the same. It’s been amazing to see how many great wellness brands are playing with really interesting ingredients to help us understand better these ingredients that have been around for thousands of years, and are beneficial for our total wellness.

I love tools, I’m a nerd at heart. I love being able to explore all of the innovation and technology that’s coming through. I’m really into tools that better help your skin care to penetrate your face, and I’m seeing some incredible innovation when it comes to facial massagers. It’s a better, more advanced way to provide self-care. And I’m loving all the sustainability and how an industry that’s gotten such a hard time, is taking the initiative to create packaging like refillable mascara tubes, things that give me hope we’re moving in the right direction.

My brand, Relevant, is just over a month old now. I’m so excited by everyone’s reaction to the One and Done Everyday Cream. We’re rocking and rolling with Thirteen Lune, really anticipating fall store openings with our JC Penney stores. We’ve onboarded some great brands, inked some wonderful partnerships, and I’m really happy that what we’re building is working.

The beautiful thing is that even in an economic downturn, beauty is something that seems to survive. If anything, we’re really seeing an uptick in a lot of our self-care items or tools or masks, and it seems as a world, we’re doing everything we can to stay as balanced and sane as possible.

Holly Lampert, omni buyer, cosmetics, Bloomingdale’s

There were so many things, sustainability, the social giveback from so many companies. It’s not just being stable, it’s giving back. There are new technologies, and new brands we hadn’t seen before. I love Ameon, the cryogenic ice cubes.

Jennifer Murray, omni buyer, color and treatment, Bloomingdale’s

The pendulum [in beauty] is swinging toward fragrance and colors, which have picked up. It was tough during COVID[-19], but now we’re seeing a resurgence of color. Fragrances are back again, and we’re still seeing a lot in skin care. It’s been nice to see brands in luxury skin care that have been overperforming, but it’s really nice to see brands coming back in all categories of the business.

Larissa Jensen, vice president, beauty, the NPD Group

When we look across the 14 different discretionary retail categories that NPD tracks, which includes apparel, tech and toys, beauty is the only industry that is growing in unit sales. While some industries are growing in dollar sales, only beauty is growing in units. That says a lot about the fact that as an industry, we are not yet feeling those inflationary pressures, our average prices are actually the lowest in terms of growth of all the industries we track.

Hair is such a big piece of the show. When you look at the numbers, hair is one of the strongest-performing categories. It makes sense that there’s a lot of attention. There’s a lot of devices, all activities happening in hair. They have space here dedicated for natural brands, up-and-coming brands. Sexual wellness is something that’s continuing to emerge and be important in the industry.

For more from WWD.com, see:

Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna Sets Date for 2023 Edition

Shoppers Want Retailers to Advance Sustainability Initiatives. Here’s How You Can Start

EXCLUSIVE: Walmart, Space NK Team Up