FOREIGN VISITORS FLOCK TO COSMOPROF, ADDING INTERNATIONAL CACHET

Byline: Jackie Cooperman

BOLOGNA, Italy — Cosmoprof, long considered a powerful regional cosmetics fair, has stepped out onto the world stage.
The four-day beauty trade show, which ended Monday, differed dramatically from past years with a noticeable increase of foreign visitors and exhibitors. The heightened international aspect of the fair was punctuated by the appearance of Leonard Lauder, chairman of the Estee Lauder Cos. After he emerged from an elaborate and interactive exhibit by Intercos, an impressed Lauder noted it was the first time he had visited the fair.
“It’s my job to stay ahead of my people — not behind them,” said Lauder, who was accompanied by Jo Malone and Dominique Szabo, senior vice president of product development worldwide for the Estee Lauder brand. Lauder added, “We have a lot of things going on in makeup.”
The presence of Guerlain, which had been absent for 10 years, is another indication of Cosmoprof’s renewed global standing. “The show is getting international again,” said Eric Henry, managing director of international at the company. He noted that for at least the last five years it had lacked international cachet.
Exhibitors noted a resurgence of the show’s relevance in a global market. “Most of the players want to be more present,” said Jean-Luc Allavena, chief executive officer at packaging firm Techpack.
Italian company Diana De Silva reappeared after six years of absence, targeting export markets with a particular focus on Latin America. “We’ve come back with the goal to really strengthen our export,” said export director Silva Cella, emphasizing the newly acquired Montana brand and the launch of the Ferre men’s fragrance Pontaccio 21.
“I really think this is the best show I have ever been to,” said packaging designer Marc Rosen, who in the past had sent co-workers to the show, but had never come himself. Rosen praised the mix of “fabulous ideas” he found among the exhibition booths. As an example, he pointed to Faber Castell’s scented pencils.
One critical point Rosen made was the lack of fragrance suppliers among the exhibitors. However, there were a number of top-level suppliers at the show, such as Michel Mane, chairman and ceo of Mane USA, and Roger Schmid, president of fragrances and cosmetics worldwide at Dragoco. Schmid gave a presentation about his brainchild and latest enthusiasm, Universita dell’Imagine — a two-year school for shaping the creative passions of aspiring perfumers, photographers and marketers.
Another high-profile visitor was Beth Pritchard, president of Bath & Body Works, the sprawling division of Intimate Brands.
While Cosmoprof seemed like a large beauty emporium for visitors on the lookout for new ideas, Italian producers said changes in the country’s distribution network are causing agita. “In general, I have seen lots of innovation, but not so much from Italian companies,” said Elena Giraudi, managing director of Kelemata-Perlier. “Everyone is saying the market is stagnant in every category here. With the consolidation among Sephora, Douglas and Limoni, everyone’s waiting to see what happens [before investing in new products].”
Kelemata-Perlier was showing off its new Armonie Naturali store concept, their way of protecting themselves from the volatility of distribution changes.
Guerlain’s Henry agreed that aside from the widespread interest in the Internet, the second big concern is consolidation — large chains like Sephora and Limoni gobbling up small perfumeries. “It’s going even faster than it did in the French market,” he said.
“Distribution is one of the main themes, especially since Italy was so behind for so long, and now it is catching up at a radical pace,” said Paola Detti, managing director for Elizabeth Arden in Italy. She added that Arden’s Red Door Salons, which closed in the Seventies, could reopen in the near future.
“In general, I hope it will expand the market,” said Enrico Scabini, managing director of Eurocosmesi. He was showing off his first line of color cosmetics, Mariella Burani, which is due out this fall. He predicted the makeup line could generate a wholesale volume of $2 million in its first year.
Like Eurocosmesi, fragrance house Euroitalia is branching out into color and treatment lines for its Naj-Oleari license. “We’re completing the line with beauty care,” said Giovanni Sgariboldi, managing director of the company, showing off the new Naj-Oleari spa line.
The company is also expected to unveil the first Dolce & Gabbana color cosmetics line at the Cannes duty-free show in October.
Euroitalia drew large crowds to its booth with the appearance of raven-haired supermodel Megan Gale.
As a further indication of the effect of market consolidation, some manufacturers have turned to direct communication with consumers. “We’re in good shape because the changing distribution is an advantage for us,” said Daniela Sacerdote, managing director of color and treatment company Collistar. “We’ve been appealing to our customers with informative advertising and brochures so they know about our products before they even go to the store.”
It is an approach color company Pupa has followed. “We’ve launched a Pupa magazine,” said Alberto Colombo, export director at Pupa, noting they are on their fourth issue.
It will be a good venue for them to explain their new skin care line, expected to be introduced within the next 12 months.
And the French are getting into the act, too. L’Oreal’s Maybelline, which had never been present at the show before, introduced a poster that said the brand is number one in the U.S. In Italy, it is angling to reposition itself as a prestige player. It is currently sold in 1,000 of the country’s perfumeries, but the goal is to more than double its selective presence within the next year, according to Tiziana Iazzette, marketing manager for the brand in Italy.
Sephora’s also getting into print. It’s expected to launch a catalog for this year’s holiday season that could be linked to their Web site.
As in the rest of the market, the Web sites — such as Beautyjungle.com — were present at Cosmoprof.
Traditional brands, meanwhile, were also exploring new strategies. Atkinsons, a division of Unilever, rolled out its new midtier Tropical Store Imports. “We are going to try and capture a less sophisticated public with lower price points than our I Coloniali line,” said Silvio Pacillo, Atkinson’s managing director. Pacillo highlighted the line’s Gauguin-inspired packaging. “Perfumeries need traffic, and to defend your brand, you need to be competitive with the right tools. Many companies are fighting at the top; we’re fighting in the middle.”
The line, which includes bath and home fragrance products, is priced about 50 percent lower than I Coloniali, said Pacillo. A bath gel from Tropical Store retails for $5.90 as opposed to the $12.20 for I Coloniali.
All figures are at current exchange rates.
Intercos’s installation was easily one of the most hotly discussed features of the fair. The imposing stand, a two-level, 7,000-square-foot complex, was 60 percent bigger than last year. The company also took a more conceptual approach to explaining its color stories than in the past.
Its exhibit was divided into three parts. The first consisted of a journey through different metropolitan centers and an exploration of the colors associated with life in Tokyo, New York, London and Paris. The second was a fun-house tour, or what Intercos called an Interactive Trend Tunnel, through six different rooms, each devoted to a particular sphere of sensory pleasure and chockablock with product samples.
The first room was called “Pleasures of Heritage,” in which there was an antique frame around a high tech video monitor, which projected digital images of passersby. The idea here was to mix contemporary with traditional.
Next came “Secret Garden,” a verdant fantasyland replete with lily pads, a waterfall and a metallic spider’s web encrusted with butterfly-shaped eye shadows.
“Ironic Chic, “an eye-popping psychedelic play-kitchen, featured plastic food and fluorescent makeup colors. The “Pleasures of Seduction” room was the realm of a femme fatale. “Pleasures of Laziness,” with its pile of plump pillows, was meant to promote a sense of languor.
The final space, “Pleasures of the Unknown,” featured a screen that produced mysterious images created by the warmth of touch.
There was also a Tech Lab, which featured water-based foundations that were cool to the touch, packaging that changed color in a consumer’s hand — reminiscent of mood rings — and polkadotted and rainbow-striped lipsticks. There was also a lip gloss with a shape in one color suspended in a field of another hue.
“Last year, we put lots of emphasis on the typology of women, but people found it a bit confusing,” said Charles-Emmanuel Gounod, Intercos president and ceo. “This year, we decided to separate into sections.”
Intercos creative director Medina Ferrari, who also has her own signature color line, conceived the decor of the interactive tunnel. Her husband, Dario Ferrari, chairman, has led a diversification campaign that has doubled sales in the last four years.
Intercos has gone from being a premier supplier of powders for cosmetics to a cutting-edge finished goods manufacturer, said Rachel Bryan, strategic marketing executive director.
Cosmoprof was raising its profile at a time when the Italian industry is boasting an increase in both domestic consumption and export, according to figures by Unipro, the Italian perfumery association. Domestic consumption in 1999 reached $6.6 billion, up 6.9 percent year-on-year. Last year, export was $1.2 billion. The balance of trade surplus for 1999 was $490.6 million.
There were 120,000 attendees at this Cosmoprof session, of which 24,000 were non-Italian — an increase of 45 percent of foreigners the previous year.
If Intercos provided one of the most impressive moments of the session, Ricardo Sanguinetti, the former managing director of Florbath, provided the most poignant. Sanguinetti, who started Florbath in 1975, stepped down from his post Thursday following the acquisition of parent Sanofi Beaute by the Gucci Group.
In an interview, he reminisced about building the company from the days when he was a pioneer in bath and body care with the acquisition of Village Bath. It was one of the first to use natural flowers, said Sanguinetti, who redid the packaging with then-chic black labeling: “It was very new, it was very Mary Quant.”
He also convinced consumers who were stuck on French brands to give Italian designer fragrances a chance, launching Krizia in 1977 and Fendi in 1985. He sold Parma-based Florbath to Sanofi Beaute in 1988, while remaining at the helm.
His final and perhaps most personal project came this year with the launch of Fiorucci’s eponymous scent. Sanguinetti, 57, indicated he is in talks with the Gucci Group to try to maintain a creative role in the brand development. “I am in love with this and I wish to stay,” he said. Otherwise, he would be perfectly content to sail the world in his boat, Magnolia.