A microdermabrasion demo at DermaNew’s booth at Cosmoprof.

LAS VEGAS — Cosmoprof this week gathered members of the international beauty industry here, a city built on risk and high stakes, for its second annual North American global beauty trade show. Early feedback from exhibitors and attendees reveal...

LAS VEGAS — Cosmoprof this week gathered members of the international beauty industry here, a city built on risk and high stakes, for its second annual North American global beauty trade show. Early feedback from exhibitors and attendees reveal the show’s second effort made some important strides, especially in terms of logistics, organization and relevance, thanks in part to good attendance at the Wellness Summit.

“Cosmoprof rounded off the rough edges this year,” observed Guita Dovas of Italian hair care company Barex Italiana. “It takes times to make these things work.”

Indeed, nearly 25,000 people, including internationally based distributors, importers, salon owners, retailers and manufacturers, attended the three-day event held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, dubbed by show organizers as “destination beauty.” This year, the number of exhibitors increased 15 percent to 761 companies.

Most attendees welcomed the change of venue from the Las Vegas Convention Center to the ritzy Mandalay Bay. What’s more, a plethora of easy-to-read signs inside and outside the showroom appeared to make Cosmoprof easier to navigate than last year.

Aside from the occasional comments from exhibitors who called for Cosmoprof to step up customer service after they found their booths in need of a good vacuuming early Sunday morning, many said show organizers had ironed out the wrinkles from last year’s show. But for all its zeal and ambition, Cosmoprof still needs to work on being what it most wants to be recognized as: the ultimate U.S.-based global beauty show. It still battles to stamp out the perception that it is simply a beefed-up Beauty Barber & Supply Institute show, the 98-year-old association and trade show that Cosmoprof replaced last year. BBSI aligned itself with Cosmoprof after its show’s attendance began to slide. And then there were the noticeably absent beauty players from the show floor, such as professional hair care giants L’Oréal Professionnel and Wella, to contend with. Traditionally, big-name companies add clout to a trade show.

Laura Zaccagnini, general director of Sogecos, the organizer of Cosmoprof, disputes rating a show soley on who exhibits. “What is important is that [attendees] find it’s worthwhile to attend and walk the show floor.”

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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Joe Millin of Woodridge Labs, a company that manufacturers skin care kits under the Vita-K Solution brand, appeared to agree as he hunted for product ideas to market to the drugstore and mass channels.

Show organizers have outlined a five-year plan to establish Cosmoprof as the “It” beauty show, which they believe can one day rival the 37-year-old Cosmoprof show in Bologna, Italy, the largest beauty trade show in the industry. While Zaccagnini said improving the show would not be accomplished overnight, she pointed out that the show’s strength is its ability to bring together all beauty product categories and all channels of distribution in one place.

Zaccagnini cites DermaNew, a Beverly Hills-based company that helped bring microdermabrasion from the dermatologist office to the home, as a case study for what a manufacturer may achieve by participating in Cosmoprof.

DermaNew, which sells products on the Home Shopping Network and in Ulta stores, gained international distribution after exhibiting in Cosmoprof’s Bologna show several years ago, said Amby Longhofer, co-founder of DermaNew. At Cosmoprof’s debut here last year, the skin care company inked a deal with specialty beauty retailer Sephora.

Bob Wallner, national sales manager of Milani, a cross-cultural cosmetics line sold in chain drugstores such as Walgreens and CVS, and in the mass retailer Target, said most of his conversations at the show have had an international flavor. “In the long term, this show could rival Bologna,” said Wallner, adding that one day mass cosmetics heavyweights, such as Revlon and L’Oréal, may choose to attend.

Cosmoprof, like last year, showcased five pavilions: cosmetics and personal care products; packaging, contract manufacturing and private label companies; wellness and spa products, including equipment and spa furniture; stocked professional hair, nails and tools, and one dedicated to hairstylists that included a Looks Mainstage, where leading stylists presented the latest hair trends — runway style — to fellow stylists and salon owners.

To improve this year’s show, Cosmoprof offered a three-day Wellness Summit featuring keynote speaker Dr. Andrew Weil, the well-known health and alternative medicine guru. There was also a tour of premiere Las Vegas spas and activities, such as Pilates, yoga and massage.

“We are already working on our second Wellness Summit because this year’s was so well received,” said Zaccagnini, adding that she plans to inject the concept with more of an international focus. “It’s going to be the place for business and a think tank,” said Zaccagnini.

Despite improvements, Cosmoprof may have to contend with the tensions that exist between the professional and mass retail worlds. Zaccagnini said last year, salon distributors were confused as to why specialty and mass retailers attended the show, an event that under BBSI was dominated by distributors. Cosmoprof, she explained to distributors, respects the segregation between professional and retail, but added the market has become more difficult to delineate. Cosmoprof continues to sell distributors on the importance of a global beauty show for all channels of distribution.

For next year’s show, which will take place at the Mandalay Bay from July 24 through July 26, Cosmoprof North America will make room for more international exhibitors, such as a Brazilian pavilion. It is also exploring ways to make educational seminars for exhibitors easier to attend by holding them in the morning before the show floor opens or a day before the show starts.

“Cosmoprof will not let this thing fail,” said an attendee who distributes a marketing newsletter to salons.

“This show is revolutionary for the U.S. market,” said Steve Sleeper, executive director of the Professional Association, a newly formed trade association by the members of the BBSI, the American Beauty Association and The Salon Association. “We’ve really shaken things up.”