CHECKPOINT: THE NINETIES

Byline: Soren Larson

NEW YORK — With the decade at the halfway point, beauty companies are taking stock of their positions in an industry vastly changed since the carefree Eighties.
Many issues have come to the fore: consolidation in manufacturing and retailing, changes in the consumer mind-set, the emergence of viable alternatives to traditional retail outlets and the sometimes fatally high costs of launching products.
“One of the things you learn about the Nineties real quick is to take nothing for granted,” said Sherry Baker, president of Halston-Borghese. “It’s a decade in which you have to be more strategic. The economy and certainly the consumer are less forgiving.”
Such topics are expected to be on the table as the industry gathers for the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association’s annual convention in Boca Raton, Fla., and WWD has compiled some top executives’ perspectives, beginning on page 8.
In addition, this supplement takes a look at what fragrance suppliers regard as today’s hot topics. For one thing, ingredients that resemble human pheromones continue to be an elusive goal for the oil houses. One company, Erox, is set to reintroduce its Realm pheromone fragrances at retail.
For Michael Sweeney, vice president of creative and commercial resources in IFF’s worldwide fragrance division, the traditional industry leader, the complexity of fragrance formulation now lies in the simplicity of the product. “People today are looking for things that are pretty uncomplicated,” he noted.
The CTFA has been dealing with a variety of potential legislation in Washington that may have an effect on how the beauty industry goes about its business. WWD’s staff in the nation’s capital reports that among the issues being debated are diversion, trademark controversies and a possible FDA review of alpha-hydroxy acids.
Companies are also considering what can be done in Mexico, a country whose economy went south in December. For some, the Mexican situation is emblematic of what so far has been an unpredictable and challenging decade.

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