NEW YORK — Italians make beautiful things. Now they want to make more products in the American beauty market.
More than 40 international beauty manufacturing, filling and packaging companies — primarily Italian — explored opportunities to expand with U.S. beauty companies at the debut of Cosmopack’s New York Symposium. In addition to information-packed roundtables, exhibitors had one-on-one appointments with representatives of more than 50 U.S. companies including The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and L’Oréal, as well as retailers such as Walgreens and Shoppers Drug Mart.
The symposium, held at the Trump SoHo hotel, represents a toe in East Coast waters as Cosmoprof (which is part of Cosmoprof Bologna) seeks to open a dialogue between European resources and American beauty powers.
“We already have a foothold in the American market with Cosmoprof North America,” explained Duccio Campagnoli, president of BolognaFiere, one of Cosmoprof’s organizers, noting that the exhibit-style show focuses on beauty salons and spas. “More than 60 percent of makeup is made in Italy and Europe, so we wanted to give suppliers direct contact with companies on the East Coast. Based on the quality of U.S. representation, we know there is interest.” A similar symposium is planned for 2015.
During roundtables, experts lauded the quality, the family heritage of manufacturers and craftsmanship of Italian beauty suppliers. “We’re not just pasta, cars and yachts,” quipped Matteo Moretti, president of Polo Tecnologico della Cosmesi (a partner in the symposium) and chief executive officer of packaging firm Lumson.
The statistics paint the opportunity, according to findings presented by Euromonitor International’s associate consultant David Margulies. The U.S. beauty business, now valued at $73.2 billion, will grow to $80 billion by 2018. The U.S. is the largest market for beauty and personal care, driven by consumer demand for multifunctional skin care and innovatively packaged cosmetics. “Italy is already in the top 10 for imports to U.S. in color cosmetics and personal care, but at number seven, there’s still some area for growth,” Margulies said. He cited Dolce & Gabbana’s partnership in skin care with Procter & Gamble as an example of an avenue to foster growth, especially in the prestige market where Euromonitor identified the biggest potential.
Top workmanship, unique products and the allure of Italy were common themes when discussing Italian beauty suppliers. “I’m a huge fan of Italian craftsmanship,” said Ian Ginsberg, president of C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries. He suggested Italian suppliers make sure their business is strong at home before tackling the U.S. and put their goods through the “so what” test. “If you can’t tell me in a few sentences what makes you interesting, you are probably boring me and boring yourself. Give your point of difference. A great brand is a story well told.”
Opportunities abound in large and small companies, suggested Robb Akridge, senior vice president and global retail manager at Clarisonic. “Packaging is critical for a small, entrepreneurial company — especially when you need to communicate a new product to create a new category. Many entrepreneurs don’t know what is available or think they can’t afford it,” he explained, supporting the need for outreach from international suppliers.
Jane Iredale, president of Iredale Cosmetics, agreed about the importance of the right packaging. “In the beginning, no one was buying our products because the packaging looked terrible,” she said, adding that eventually, the strategy to be transparent about ingredients on packages helped consumers understand the uniqueness of the line.
The experts also offered advice to help international companies do business in the U.S. Sharon Blinkoff, attorney at law for Edwards, Wildman, Palmer LLP, suggested how to navigate legal guidelines, especially as they relate to SPF, which is considered a drug in the U.S. versus a cosmetic. “Scrutinize your cosmetics claims and figure out how they are regulated,” she advised. “Make sure advertising claims can be supported because class-action suits are costly.”
Iredale also urged suppliers to “do what you say you are going to do,” as far as delivery dates. Pointing out cultural differences, Anastasia Soare, founder and ceo of Anastasia Beverly Hills, suggested “a little less vacation time.” Despite the polite jab, she added, “Nobody on the planet earth is better at making products than Italians.”
Kian Feyzgiu, ceo of Gotha Cosmetics, a cosmetics manufacturing company in Italy, also encouraged fellow companies to hire foreign employees from other countries — especially those who can speak English. “And bet on younger talent,” he added.
To illustrate the uniqueness and quality of European suppliers, Brooke Carlson of The Fashion Institute of Technology highlighted distinctive products from a handful of exhibitors such as Reynaldi Cosmetica, known for its food-based beauty, and Aptar-Emsar’s airless dropper package for serums.