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BOCA RATON, Fla. — Despite the fact that a passel of attendees still refer to its venerable annual meeting as CTFA, the Personal Care Products Council (formerly the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association) is calling its meeting, held from Feb. 26 to 29 here, a success.

This story first appeared in the March 7, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Retail consolidation, supply chain integrity, global legislation and consumer concerns were the most talked-about topics in the chilly cabanas at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. Of particular concern to member companies was legislation affecting member companies, including the REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) law, which came on to the scene in Europe in 2007. The legislation requires that suppliers compile safety data specific to each of its chemicals’ intended applications — if a supplier wants to use a pigment in a lipstick and in, say, a paint, that supplier would have to work up data for both uses.

While it will certainly be a challenge — particularly for smaller companies who may eliminate certain ingredients rather than completing lengthy and expensive research on every single one in their portfolio — others see the issue as an interesting challenge.

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“It’s an ongoing journey,” said Armand de Villoutreys, vice president of fragrance worldwide for Firmenich, of adapting to REACH and other legislative measures. But he believes that creativity will win the day: “New naturals, extractions and other processes we develop in response to these issues will leave us with a richer and more creative business, which can only make for a better business.”

That sentiment was echoed by Joy Atkinson, president of Symrise’s U.S. fragrance division. “We are in compliance even beyond what is required, but we need to embrace change and continue to be innovative to best serve our clients,” she said.

“True, the regulatory area has significantly increased — but it’s a new reality and a new opportunity for us,” said Nicolas Mirzayantz, group president of the fragrance division for International Flavors & Fragrances. “We have the largest portfolio of fragrance ingredients, so it was critical that we address this challenge early on. As well, being ‘green’ and having sustainable ingredients is also very important, as is protecting natural sources.”

Christophe de Villeplee, vice president and regional manager of North America Fragrances at IFF, pointed out that in response to legislative concerns, the company set up a global, regulatory-oriented team about four years ago. “We’re developing new ingredients and looking at older ingredients in a new way,” he said.

Mirzayantz acknowledged that there is an apparent conflict between REACH and another law, Amendment Seven of the European Cosmetics Directive, which outlaws animal testing. REACH, however, seems to mandate testing for new substances. “The legislation still needs to be defined,” he said.

The more stringent legislation isn’t helped by the fact that few new fragrances make it to their first birthdays — making the intensive paperwork and studies all the more pricy. “It’s pushing people to be more focused,” said Mirzayantz, who added that he believes there will be a “strong return to iconic brands.”

“In uncertain times and tough economies, people like to go back to the trusted, tried-and-true brands,” said Mirzayantz.

Marcy Fisher, vice president of cosmetics marketing for Liz Claiborne Cosmetics, agreed: “If you do great new advertising behind something consumers haven’t seen in a while, you get a new consumer base,” she said. “Classics are becoming big again. But we think consumers also want a choice, particularly in the celebrity arena.” Major launches this year for Claiborne include Dirty English, the first Juicy Couture men’s fragrance, as well as limited edition women’s Juicy Couture scents. Fisher also promised updates to the brand’s successful Usher fragrance collections for men and women.

Neil Katz, chief executive officer and chairman of Parlux Fragrances Inc., believes that the increasing regulations will “make it much more expensive for people to run their businesses,” noting that the higher cost of goods might then need to be passed on to the consumer. Still, Katz said he sees bright spots in the fragrance business, particularly with Parlux’s Paris Hilton license. “Everyone wants a piece of Paris — department stores, mass market — all over the world,” said Katz, adding that Hilton’s fragrances generated more than $90 million in nine months. “Her scents are available in London, Paris, Moscow, [South] Korea, Singapore — and she is very easy to work with. She understands the necessity of personal appearances.” However, Parlux is looking to divest the Hilton jewelry and handbag licenses it currently holds. “We want to concentrate on our core Paris business, which is fragrance,” he said. A Paris Hilton color cosmetics collection could launch in Europe in the not-too-distant future, he added.

As well, Parlux will launch Jessica Simpson’s first fragrance in August, and Katz said he is actively looking for new celebrity and fashion fragrance licenses. “We get at least five calls a week from celebrities and fashion houses that want to do fragrances, but the person has to have ‘It,'” said Katz.

PCPC council chairman Marc Pritchard, president of strategy, productivity and growth at Procter & Gamble, handed his gavel to Dan Brestle, vice chairman and president of Estée Lauder North America, the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.

Referring to last year’s goal of repositioning itself “to be the consumer’s greatest resource when it comes to product safety — making a shift in our focus from internal to external” — Pritchard stated, “In the last three years, we’ve accomplished a great deal in meeting the challenge to change together. We’ve amped up our communications with consumers, strengthened self-regulation and enacted a voluntary safety initiative to demonstrate our unparalleled commitment to consumer safety.” He also praised the job done by president Pamela Bailey and her staff.

“But we still have work to do,” Pritchard said after the speech. “We have to continue to reach out to the consumer and to concentrate on legislative issues.”

“Times are changing, and so are consumers’ expectations,” said Virginia Drosos, president of global personal beauty at P&G Beauty. “It’s more important than ever to exceed expectations for product performance. We have to provide that extra ‘delight’ factor.” Drosos named a host of new P&G products she sees as fitting that bill, including Cover Girl’s new Lash Blast mascara and Outlast colors developed by makeup artist Pat McGrath; Clairol’s Perfect 10 and Natural Instincts Brass Free hair colors; extensions to Olay’s Regenerist and Body lines; new formulations from Pantene and Head & Shoulders, and prestige fragrance introductions from Dolce & Gabbana, Hugo Boss and Gucci.

Drosos and her team also are turning a laser eye on sustainability issues. “About 95 percent of our raw materials make the conversion into finished products, and we will continue to make that a priority,” she said, adding that P&G has appeared on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for seven of the last nine years.

“We’re proud to say that our parent company, Henkel, has always had a very proactive approach to the sustainability issue, and in fact always ranks at the top of those types of lists,” said Brad Casper, president and ceo of the Dial Corp. “In the U.S., we’ve formed a partnership with Arizona State University to fund research of a lifecycle analysis of personal care products. We want to reduce our footprint by 20 percent over the next five years.”

Amid all of the serious talk, more lighthearted news also was discussed at the conference. Coty announced that it has signed Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry to a fragrance development deal and has inked a license for Playboy-branded beauty products, and also revealed plans for the fragrance licenses of Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, Tim McGraw, Celine Dion and others.

Stefani will introduce a new fragrance franchise in the U.S. in September, said Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of American Fragrances for Coty Prestige. It is said to be a play on Stefani’s Harujuku Lovers line. Lopez, whose brand Walsh says is the third largest in the Coty portfolio, is launching Deseo for Men, her first men’s scent, and Live Platinum, a limited edition fragrance, this year — in between caring for her new twins. Coty Prestige’s fashion licenses — including Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang and Calvin Klein — also are all launching new projects.

The Coty Beauty division, helmed by Steve Mormoris as senior vice president of global marketing, announced the Berry deal, with products expected on counter later this year, and discussed McGraw’s recently inked scent deal. “We need to revitalize the mass market fragrance business,” he said. “We need to create brands that consumers find compelling — not just sell fragrances that used to be in department stores.” However, he added, some fragrances do move the other way: “We launched David and Victoria Beckham’s fragrance collection in the U.S. in September 2007, in masstige distribution. It will move into the prestige arena this September with Signature for men and for women.”

Del Laboratories was acquired by Coty in December, and Bill Boraczek, senior vice president of Sally Hansen, had plenty of good nail news to share at PCPC. “We’ve had a terrific year,” he said, adding that according to Information Resources Inc., his company garnered a 44.9 percent share of the nail treatment area and a 41.1 percent share of the nail color area. “We’ve doubled our nail color business in the last eight years. The big guys have all turned away from nails.”

Mormoris also noted that Kimora Lee Simmons and Céline Dion are launching Fabulosity and Sensational, respectively, this month — and Kate Moss’ scent, launched in Europe last year, will be sold in the U.S. beginning this fall.

“The next 10 years will be the most exciting time ever seen in the beauty industry,” said Scott Beattie, chairman and ceo of Elizabeth Arden Inc.

“Beauty products are among the most aspirational products in emerging markets, and they are hungry for new brands. Also, we [Arden] are underdeveloped internationally, although 45 percent of our business is done outside of the U.S. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity there.”

Beattie mentioned that Arden has new affiliations in France, Dubai and China, and added that Arden has a partnership with North Castle Partners LLC — which operates Arden’s spa business — to add luxury spas worldwide.

Beattie also places a premium on educating consumers. “Customers demand a lot more information these days,” he said. “But if you educate them, your company is the winner. For instance, Prevage, at $150, is one of our most expensive skin care products. But in our Fifth Avenue store, 40 percent of our sales are generated by that product. There is no price resistance if you explain yourself and your product well.”

Jonathan Zrihen, president and ceo of Clarins Groupe USA, noted that Clarins is taking a “back to basics” approach.

“We are further claiming our botanical heritage with an intensive sampling campaign, which will offer samples of more than 60 different products,” he said. “We’re also planning to use our [department store] counters more as an advertising page, to reinforce that positioning.” Acknowledging that Clarins does not have the market clout in the U.S. that it does in Europe, he added, “We need to build consumer awareness and we need to get people using our products. That’s why I believe this sampling effort will work. This isn’t a revolution, it’s an evolution.” Zrihen also acknowledged that incoming executive vice president Philip Shearer is “an expert of the U.S. market, and that will further strengthen our position.”

Heidi Manheimer, ceo of Shiseido Cosmetics (America) Ltd., also is placing a high value on sampling, as well as regional advertising, this year. Shiseido has instituted a program where it picks three cities and then concentrates heavily on promotions, regional advertising and sampling in those cities. Dallas, Houston and Miami, the current cities, have already seen double-digit growth, said Manheimer.

Avon’s turnaround plan is working, said Claudia Poccia, global president of Mark and strategic alliances. “Since this is an election year, I’m doing a state of the union for Avon,” she joked, before noting that the firm posted 15 percent growth in its beauty business in 2007. “We’re closing in on being a $10 billion beauty brand with 5.4 million representatives worldwide,” she said. The company’s Avon and Mark brands have a wide roster of launches scheduled to maintain the momentum. Avon also has signed a scent licensing agreement with the French design house Emanuel Ungaro for a new masterbrand, enlisting spokeswoman Reese Witherspoon as the face of the fragrances. On the Mark side, brand head Lily DeStefano cited its new social networking Web site,, as well as Mark’s expansion into skin care with a 10-item line. For fall 2008, Mark will be the beauty sponsor for Lauren Conrad’s fashion line (she’s a spokeswoman), as well as introduce an accessories line under the reality TV star’s moniker.

Being Boca, there were some familiar faces at the meeting, but also a few newcomers. “It’s a very nice and friendly marathon,” said Marc Rey, ceo and managing director of YSL Beauté Inc., who was apparently referring to the endless rounds of meetings. He added, “It’s an opportunity to share ideas with the other stakeholders in this industry.”

But it was perhaps best summed up by Laurent Attal, president and ceo of L’Oréal USA, who seemed pleased to spend time with other industry leaders and to hear about innovations and strides being taken on behalf of promoting product safety “in which we should all take great pride.”