MILAN — The Italian beauty sector is bolstering online investment but still needs to step up its profile in e-commerce as it recovers from the recession, according to Unipro, the Italian association of cosmetics companies and executives.
During a recent press conference here, organized by the association together with Italian beauty portal Bellezza.it, Unipro president Fabio Franchina summarized the retail landscape and underlined Internet opportunities for Italian beauty retailers.
According to Unipro figures, the Italian cosmetics industry is shaking off the impact of the economic downturn.
In the first nine months of this year, the sector posted a modest 1.9 percent gain in domestic beauty consumption, hitting a volume of 6.17 billion euros, or $8.14 billion at average exchange, compared with the same period in 2009. Exports, too, are on the rise, up 6.5 percent to 2.17 billion euros, or about $2.86 billion, in the first nine months of 2010, compared with the same period last year.
Traditional distribution channels, such as perfumeries hit hard by the recession, are recovering, according to Unipro.
Perfumeries squeezed out a 0.6 percent sales increase in the first quarter, and a 1.2 percent rise in the second. In 2009, sales in this channel fell 3.5 percent. Pharmacies have continued to build on the sales momentum seen in 2009. Beauty sales grew around 5 percent in the second quarter of 2010 in this channel.
Franchina stressed the online opportunities for small to medium beauty retailers and mapped out steps already taken by the industry to harness sales via the Internet. The association said about 46 percent of Italian beauty companies utilize their Internet sites as a product window, an increase of almost 8 percent compared with 2009. Some 80 percent of retailers have a new Internet site this year.
Despite these encouraging signs, Franchina underlined the scarce use of e-commerce in the sector. Twenty-five percent of retailers consider e-tailing important and only 5 percent are selling to the final consumer, according to Unipro research. One-third of the industry is said to be evaluating e-commerce, an 18 percent rise compared with last year, which, according to Franchina, is a clear sign the industry’s future retail landscape is set to diversify.