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Exports Confirmed as a Major Force for the Italian Cosmetic Industry

Germany, France and the U.S. are the top three market destinations of Italian products.

MILAN — The global turnover of the Italian cosmetic industry continues to grow, registering 10.5 billion euros, or $11.3 billion at current exchange last year, up 5 percent compared with 2015, according to data from the national association of cosmetics companies Cosmetica Italia revealed on Feb. 1. Exports were confirmed as a leading force for the industry, climbing 12 percent compared with the previous year, with a value of over 4.2 billion euros, or $4.5 billion. A similar growth is expected to be registered in 2017, according to the association.

Export destinations are equally divided between European countries and extra-EU destinations, with Germany, France and the U.S. stable as the top three markets, registering a gain of 18.9 percent, 5.6 percent and 25.3 percent, respectively. The U.K. follows, although showing slight signs of a slowdown. Other countries include historic destinations, such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland, all presenting significant recovery signals, and the United Arab Emirates, registering double-digit growth, while Russia fell from the top ten in 2016.

Regarding the Italian market, the cosmetic industry proved to be one of the healthiest on a national scale. Over 67 percent of the companies grew during 2016, almost keeping pace with the eyewear industry and ahead of other categories such as jewelry, textiles and footwear.

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“The internal demand of cosmetic products positively influence the sales volumes of the national industry,” said Cosmetica Italia’s president Fabio Rossello. At the end of 2016, the value of cosmetic products bought in by Italy was over 9.9 billion euros, or $10.6 billion, up 0.5 percent compared to 2015. “After the contractions of the last years, the professional channels are showing growing signals once again, while direct sales keep increasing,” he added, stressing how these in particular were up 7.8 percent thanks to the leading role of e-commerce channels.

Professional hair and beauty salons increased 1 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, due to a recovery in attendance and therefore spending. Consumers’ interest in natural products sustains the growth of herbalist shops and perfumeries, up 1.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, while the pharmacy channel was stable.

Mass distribution still represents 40 percent of the cosmetic distribution in Italy for a value of 3.8 billion euros, or $4.08 billion, even if it decreased 1.1 percent in 2016.

Nevertheless, some of the industry’s operators who have been interviewed by Cosmetica Italia’s research facility, expressed concern for the local market, influenced by new ways of consumption. High administrative expenses and increasing production costs are other influential elements, in addition to general worries over the tense political situation worldwide.

Product-wise, 146,000 cosmetic products were launched last year — up 16 percent compared to 2015 — including 92,000 new offerings. Europe has been the fertile field for most of them, with 68,000 launches, showing the strong competitiveness present in the continent, while the U.S. proved to be a more traditional market launching 14,000 products only.

Along with the data, Fabio Rossello also presented a series of initiatives aimed at celebrating Cosmetica Italia’s 50th anniversary this year. In addition to Cosmoprof Bologna Worldwide, running March 16-20, a gala soirée will be held in Milan in June following the association’s annual assembly, during which Rossello will announce his successor at the helm of Cosmetica Italia after his six-year mandate. The cosmetic industry will also be celebrated and promoted on Nov. 6, the founding day of the association, with an institutional event in Rome.