PARIS — Despite the general economic malaise, attendee traffic at the seventh annual Beyond Beauty Paris trade show, focusing on beauty and wellness, rose 4 percent on-year.

This story first appeared in the September 22, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The exhibition, which ran from Sept. 13 to 16 at the Porte de Versailles, lured more than 19,000 visitors, of which 28 percent came from abroad (versus 32 percent last year).

“This year was good,” said David Bondi, president and chief executive officer of the event’s organizer, ITEC France. He added that after months of moroseness and market consolidation, a bit of optimism was sensed.

Bondi explained Beyond Beauty’s uptick in footfall could stem from a couple of factors — the primary one being that the fair was moved into Paris for the first time. Formerly, it was held in the Paris suburb of Villepinte. Beyond Beauty was also simplified structurally.

This session, the trade show comprised a triumvirate of salons. Cosmeeting showcased 190 exhibitors, of which 35 percent were there for the first time. Its Natural & Bio area included 70 names, while approximately 30 young brands made up Cosmeeting’s Zoom section.

“This part of Cosmeeting was bubbling,” said Bondi.

Creative contained more than 230 beauty suppliers. European Spa had 85 brands; it replaced prior Beyond Beauty sessions’ Spa & Institute in order to propose an offer purely dedicated to the spa business, explained Bondi.

Pharmameeting was discontinued this year, so Beyond Beauty could be focused on its strongest points, he added.

In all, there were 505 exhibitors at Beyond Beauty, down almost 16 percent on-year. It covered 188,900 square feet this session, some 15 percent less than in 2008.

Again this year, Beyond Beauty hosted the Beauty Challenger Awards. Winners included Absolution, billed to be the first unisex bespoke organic cosmetics brand, which received the Special Jury Prize. The 66°30 line, comprising men’s organic skin care, won the Emerging Brands Prize. Fleurs de Bach, a collection of beauty products whose formulas include flower essences, received the Niche Brands Prize.

The Beauty Organic Award, recognizing what the jury believed to be the best organic-certified brand, went to Aïny, whose product formulations mix shamanic and high-tech sciences.

Beyond Beauty hosted conferences in two designated areas, which were open to attendees free of charge this year. One focused specifically on spas, while the other included wide-ranging topics.

Among the conferences was a talk entitled “For a Resolutely Positive Beauty,” given by Marie-Caroline Selle, a founder of Cap Beauty marketing agency. She explained that meeting consumers’ quest for happiness today are newfangled products like playful items (think MAC’s Hello Kitty line or Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers fragrances); cosmetics requiring a new gesture (such as patches for nails instead of polish), and environmentally friendly products (some of which have biodegradable packaging).

Speakers at another conference called “Will Beauty Come Out of the Crisis Unharmed?” also noted a surge of interest in natural and sustainable goods. Their findings were based on a study conducted by the Institut Français d’Opinion Publique (French Institute of Public Opinion) that queried 1,000 French internauts between 18 and 78 during a few days’ span starting in late February.

Price has become the premier criterion on which French consumers base their beauty product purchases.

“Three years ago, it was the third most important factor,” said Florence Soyer, director of IFOP’s consumer division.

Another element gaining clout is products’ benefits. On the wane, meanwhile, is consumers’ focus on advertising.

“The new consumer is a bit allergic to marketing,” said Soyer.

At the same time, products’ pleasure quotient is increasingly significant.

“Something we’ve seen emerging recently is DIY,” said Céline Dargent, chief executive officer of HighCo Docs marketing consultancy. “It touches all segments of the [consumer] market, including cosmetics.”

She explained this is linked to a return to naturalness and authenticity. It also plays on other expectations of French consumers today, including wanting to know what a product is made of and saving money, added Soyer.


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