CANNES, France — “Makeup has the biggest opportunity” of any beauty category in travel, said Henrik Ottosson, global product manager, deputy global P&C category head of the Nuance Group Europe.

And he wasn’t alone at the recent Tax Free World Association (TFWA) annual meeting here looking to surf the steep gains of the fastest-growing beauty segment that today makes only an estimated 15 percent of the channel’s sales.

Last year, overall beauty revenues advanced 8.9 percent in travel retail, while makeup’s rose 18 percent, according to market research firm Generation.

L’Oréal, for one, is making color cosmetics central to its luxury brands’ shops. Even Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani, whose best-selling category is fragrance, are being armed with massive displays of makeup in airport shops.

“It’s a recruitment tool, not only for Millennials,” said Julie Audouin-Urdangaray, L’Oréal Luxe travel retail brands director, referring to the 15-to-35-year-old demographic that makes up an estimated 40 percent of all travelers today.

Speaking during a press conference she said: “Makeup is bringing excitement. It is bringing modernity.”

World Duty Free has lunched a number of color-cosmetics labels, such as Urban Decay, Nars and Benefit.

“We have to continue developing this segment,” said Antonin Carreau, global head of beauty at the operator, adding World Duty Free has been devoting more space to makeup. “It’s an entry point into a brand. Our makeup is booming.”

Over at Shiseido, where travel retail has recently been added as the company’s sixth designated region, Nars continues its rollout, including in Canada.

“We have high requirements about the space,” said Elisabeth Jouguelet, marketing director for travel retail at the company, explaining that makeup application areas are a must.

Also new to Nars are the brand’s first travel-retail exclusives, due out in February worldwide, which cater to its jet-set clientele.

“Nars has a community of 2 million online — a lot of makeup artists very inspired by self-expression and fashion,” said Jouguelet. “We thought about them traveling and what they would expect to bring with them.”

The result is four offers: a makeup palette and three sets.

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