Mae West seems an unlikely sage for the beauty industry. But those looking for guidance in surviving the ups and downs of 2007 would have been well served by her counsel to hold on tight. For many, it was, indeed, a bumpy ride. This issue of WWD Beauty Biz celebrates those who not only held on, they had a veritable iron grip. Despite the hurley-burley roller-coaster ride of retail consolidation, a downward-spiraling economy and ever-more demanding consumers, a number of companies hit the highs with innovative products, resourceful strategies and a single-minded focus on moving their business forward. It is those companies we celebrate in this, our fifth annual awards issue. As always, choosing the winners was no easy feat when our editors convened to debate. Using a set of criteria based on retail performance, industry feedback and our reporters throughout the year, we’ve compiled a roster that we think encompasses the best of beauty for 2007. Of particular note was the rise of highly specific niche brands that may do only one thing, but do it very well. It was also impossible to ignore the increasing influence of the green movement on the industry, as well as those who upped the ante in the advertising stakes, using their campaigns to unleash a multifaceted brand strategy. Turn to “The Winner Is…” on page 23 for full coverage of the 2007 WWD Beauty Biz awards.
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Sales figures are another way to gauge success—after all, numbers never lie. As you’ll see in “Beauty’s Top 75” on page 46, the industry’s top 10 companies all managed to achieve growth. Our annual compilation of the world’s largest cosmetics companies has a new format this year, ranking companies on their calendar year 2006 sales, rather than fiscal or calendar year. L’Oréal once again holds the top spot, with $19.84 billion in sales, an 8.7 percent increase versus 2005; Procter & Gamble comes in at number two, with $17.5 billion, up 8 percent from the year before. After a period of intense restructuring, Avon moved up a place to number five, while Kao shot to number seven thanks to the integration of Kanebo, and Limited Brands passed Alberto Culver to grab the number 10 spot.
As we were reviewing the year that was, we also turned our attention to the year ahead. Though America’s fascination with fame shows no signs of waning, a new type of celebrity is gaining ground—the cyberstar. This issue’s cover girl Cory Kennedy epitomizes the trend. The high school senior gained nationwide notoriety after a photographer friend posted her pictures on his Web site. While adults may not yet know her name, Kennedy has become a hero to a younger generation for whom celebrity is the definitive barometer of success, the Internet the ultimate avenue. Discover online’s rising stars in “The New Fame Game” on page 38, then turn to “The Vision Thing” on page 44 for some predictions on what 2008 holds in store when it comes to technology, cultural trends, Wall Street and more. There’s a lot to look forward to, and much to celebrate, too. On behalf of the entire WWD Beauty Biz team, I’d like to extend our congratulations to all of this year’s winners.