Beauty Focus 2009

For an industry that is so reliant on innovation and creativity Beauty Focus 2009 was the perfect setting to get the juices flowing. Delegates from across the C&T sector were privvy to a plethora of speakers who shared their invaluable insight into making a mark on the industry and making sense of complicated and convoluted market legislation. Louise Prance reports

For an industry that is so reliant on innovation and creativity Beauty Focus 2009 was the perfect setting to get the juices flowing. Delegates from across the C&T sector were privvy to a plethora of speakers who shared their invaluable insight into making a mark on the industry and making sense of complicated and convoluted market legislation. Louise Prance reports

With the world’s economy buckling under the weight of the recession there has never been a more important time to iron out and discuss the issues and problems surrounding the C&T industry in order for businesses to survive the crisis. And that is exactly what the third Beauty Focus conference, organised by ECM and SPC magazines, aimed to do. And with the one-day event playing host to a long list of the industry’s most knowledgeable speakers, Beauty Focus 2009 didn’t disappoint.

Taking place in the heart of central London, the conference concentrated on hot topics that are the current talking points across the industry, looking at regulation, future and global trends, key growth strategies, male grooming, naturals and organics, carbon footprints, how to attract the consumer and more.

Kicking off proceedings following the chairman’s welcome was Paul Crawford, head of regulatory services for the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA). With the past five years being a relative minefield for the UK C&T industry, with confusion and uncertainty shrouding legislation about issues such as natural and organics, animal testing and advertising laws, Crawford aimed to iron out a few misgivings. Firstly, Crawford dealt with the revision of the Cosmetics Directive (76/768/ECC) and the impending [now agreed] streamlining of the confusing material, including it’s 31 previous updates, into a more comprehensive and universally understandable piece of legislation. “The European Commission expects a higher standard because the consumer expects it,” explained Crawford. “The directive is a success but there is no denying it needs to be simplified following the years of amendments that have been made.” The committee will now revise the directive into a single regulation in one sitting, rather than two. As Crawford highlighted, most of the core points of the directive will remain unchanged and instead the changes will focus on key points that have been pinpointed as the most confusing areas. The outcome of the revision will result in more rigorous safety assessments (more duties for distributors) and product recall procedures. Other issues that will no doubt be looked at will be the issues surrounding CMRs and their classifications, with Crawford speculating that special allowances could be made for problematic cases such as ethanol (a key ingredient for most fragrances), which is technically a CMR 1 but is not classified due to the problems that would be caused should it be taken off the market. “There could possibly be a convoluted system for special cases such as this, which would not be good for the regulation,” said Crawford. Aimed at creating a single EU market the new text will not be that different to the original but it will mean companies will have to notify the relevant authorities under a single EU market, making national cosmetic regulations absolute. Manufacturers are to get a three-year period in which to implement changes, however it is still set to be an onerous process. Moving on, Crawford broached the ongoing topic of natural and organic standards while presenting an unbiased view on the benefits of both natural and chemical cosmetic ingredients. Taking an independent stance from any particular standard, Crawford felt that the amount of certification on offer was detrimental to the industry and confused the consumer, with many being too political and pandering to urban myths. However, it was acknowledged that having standards such as the Soil Association and Ecocert does raise awareness about the natural market and promotes a sustainability agenda. Harmonisation was the main suggestion as a way to bring together all the standards needed to create a more streamlined natural and organic certification process, however, with a level of compromise demanded from all the companies involved it could seem a long way off. With a nod to the future Crawford said the European Commission is looking for a more “transparent and honest” standard. Closer to home the CTPA and COLIPA hope to see less of an anti-chemical focus and for the focus to shift away from criticising non-natural and non-organic ingredients to concentrating on promoting just the positive aspects of naturals and organics.

Future prospects

However, before stepping into the minefield of C&T regulation you first have to have a commercially viable product that is desired by the consumer. And what better way to create that product than by understanding and analysing future trends and consumer needs. Stirling Murray, founder of The Core Business, a cosmetics distributor and consultancy, kicked off his talk on future trends by heralding the place that essential beauty basics hold in the market. Murray cited a Superdrug poll that asked consumers what beauty product they couldn’t live without and it showed that the top 20 answers only contained two luxury items with all others being good value classics such as Nivea and Vaseline. Of course consumers still seek newness. Fads inevitably sell well and these are needed for creative NPD and innovation in the industry. But as Murray reiterated, in order to find the key to longevity for your cosmetics product you need to tap into the consumer psyche and create a product “they can’t live without”. With IRI reporting a 22% drop in product launches in 2008, it would seem that companies are feeling the threat of the credit crunch and are cutting back on innovation. As Murray noted, there is not only a feeling of consumer shame and guilt when purchasing luxury cosmetics items, but also “a spending paralysis and a level of uncertainty in the industry as a whole”. In order to counteract this Murray picked up on four trends predicted for success in 2009 as highlighted by Mintel. Austerity Chic looks at the women who will, under the weight of the financial strain, focus on value over luxury and pinch the pennies while Turbo Beauty is a nod towards the rise of dermo-beauty; doctor brands that are science-based and have a story to back them up. Extreme Ethical is proof of the fact that ethical beauty is on the rise, while Beauty Foods takes on a new direction with companies such as Yes to Carrots! bridging the gap between food and beauty products. Although none are new trends and, as Murray suggested, consumers will flit between the categories, there is something to be said for sticking to a “tried and tested” approach when launching a product into an uncertain market. Murray gave the new Coty fragrances, Harajuki Lovers, as an example of the type of innovation that will attract the modern consumer with its fresh take on the fragrance industry.

Moving on, Jonathan Ford, creative partner for design company Pearlfisher, gave an insightful talk into Challenging beauty – why today’s challenger brands are designing the future face of beauty, which looked at moving your product into the market and keeping it there. Ford gave two ways to achieve this feat – your brand could either be a challenger brand or an iconic brand. “Design is a big factor in making a product stand out,” said Ford. “Challenger brands and icon brands are our paths to the future and they are important because they have an impact on us, they embody our culture, past and future. Both are important in the market, they complement each other.” Ford highlighted his point with examples of each, with Cowshed and King of Shaves representing the challenger ethos which is new and progressive while brands such as Coke and Nivea were given as examples of iconic brands that are timeless and part of our culture. What Ford explained is that in order to truly conquer the market there should be harmony between both the challengers and the icons, with the icon brands being challengers that have since reached their full potential. “There are four key elements that challengers must bear in mind which icons have – intensity, intimacy, popularity and longevity.”

Following Ford’s talk Felix Scarlett, consultant with Dew Gibbons, gave an insightful lecture into how to ensure yours is the brand consumers pick off the shelf. Admitting there was no simple answer to the question Scarlett gave a detailed view of the steps that could be taken to get the customer’s attention, including the art of packaging and noticing trends. Concluding, Scarlett spoke of identifying the pathway that matters, thinking your own way, executing with confidence, recognising your consumer and developing strong relationships.

Ethically beautiful

Much of the C&T industry at present is focusing on the issues surrounding ethical manufacturing and consumerism. Barbara Olioso, from natural consulting firm Organnatural, talked about the challenges of the natural and organics industry and added to some of the topics spoken about earlier in the day by Paul Crawford. Having always been fascinated by nature, and with ten years’ experience in the industry, Olioso gave an overview of the difficulties faced when creating a natural or organic product including knowing the actual definition of natural, the technical challenges, including the shorter shelf life and availability of natural ingredients. Olioso also discussed the economic challenges such as the increased price of natural ingredients, while adding that marketing is also becoming increasingly chaotic as consumers find it difficult to establish the real organic from the gimmicky ones. Ethical issues are also present with the effect of the air miles incurred transporting the ingredients and the threat to the sustainability of the ingredients used. As certification becomes increasingly en vogue there is also the issue of what certification body to go for. With this long list of hurdles Olioso gave delegates some helpful tips: “You have to first think about what your priority is. For example if you are certifying your product you may have to compromise on its performance claims. You need to decide what your objectives are and be clear on what kind of natural certification you want. Above all, think differently, choose a good quality manufacturer and keep your strategy consistent with your brand and claims.”

Keeping it clean

The final two presentations of the day were centred on the environmental impact that cosmetics businesses have and finding a way to reduce this whilst levelling out the carbon footprint of the company in question and reducing carbon emissions. Claire Hingston, project manager for Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), discussed with the delegates how to reduce the environmental impact of products and packaging. Looking over the WRAP initiative, The Courtauld Commitment, Hingston explained that many companies are now signing up to the voluntary agreement, which is supported by both the government and Defra. Boots, Tesco and Marks & Spencer are just some of the companies pledging their support to help the initiative achieve its goal, which is to reduce the amount of packaging and food waste arising in the household waste stream by 2010. Hingston also spoke of the educational tools that were easily available to help manufacturers and companies such as the Packaging Best in Class data section on the WRAP website, which shows how to recycle waste and gives different search options dependent on your product material. Other suggestions to help the environment included using rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) packaging for products and having on-pack labelling giving clear and consistent recycling messages and icons that will make the process easier for the consumer. Smaller packaging concepts and thinking about the product’s full life span, from conception to end use, were given as examples of ways in which companies can change the way they deal with their packaging responsibilities.

One man who is all too aware of his environmental responsibilities is Andie Stephens from The Carbon Trust. His talk on Measuring a product’s footprint is the foundation of its reduction linked in nicely with Hingston’s view on environmental issues. Stephens began by stressing that monitoring and decreasing a product’s carbon footprint is vital to help reduce greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050. And to do this companies are encouraged to “measure, reduce and communicate”. Stephens explained that acting responsibly could actually be beneficial to brands. By minimising confusing marketing messages and communicating clear carbon messages on packs, brands could gain a market advantage with the ever more astute consumer. With such a complex topic, a regulatory specification is vital. The PAS2050 is a specification for the assessment of the life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions of the goods and services developed through the BSI British Standards and sponsored by the Carbon Trust and Defra. The Carbon Trust played a vital role in developing this certification standard, one which C&T manufacturers are starting to sit up and take notice of. “The Carbon Trust has recently worked with Boots to follow the carbon footprint of its Botanical Shampoo,” Stephens said. “In fact most of the footprint is at the washing phase when heating up the water to wash the hair.” With more and more companies monitoring their carbon footprint these days a domino effect is starting to take place, with many other big companies such as Tesco following suit.

All together

Throughout the day many views were aired about the varied topics and Beauty Focus finished with everyone aiming for a common goal – to be part of an industry that is more defined, with tighter regulation and which has a more environmentally conscious outlook. As ever, issues will not be ironed out overnight, but as the market is faced with the continued rise of male grooming and natural and organic products it is still an exciting time for a dynamic industry.

David Pybus Scents of time

His franchise, Scents of Time fragrances, was a vision of a new niche in the fragrance market. However, with any small business starting out, Pybus had a lack of financial support and turned to an unlikely source – a TV programme. With a winning bid, Pybus had two dragons as allies and has now launched, with their financial support and business prowess, the fragrances into John Lewis and also the British Museum. The fragrances, Nenufar, Pyxis, Ankh and Petra, are inspired by scents dating back thousands of years and are certainly an interesting take on the modern day fragrance industry.

A man's world

Carrie Lennard, cosmetics and toiletries analyst for Euromonitor, gave an insight into where the male grooming sector actually stands in the overall C&T picture. Despite the massive boom the sector has experienced as a whole it actually only represents 8% of the $345bn global C&T market. Western Europe and the US form the largest part of the market while Latin America showed the highest growth rates over the past few years and comes in a healthy third. And while the market is inevitably gaining momentum Lennard highlighted that, next to the women’s market, the male grooming category is still a very small and is definitely still evolving.
With the US and Brazil housing large male grooming markets, Lennard chose these countries as specific case studies and highlighted the differences in the markets. Spend-wise it was actually Brazil that pipped the US to the post, with a 5% spend as opposed to the US’ 4%, despite the average US male consumer having a higher average income. However, the Brazilian male is keeping the market afloat with traditional purchases such as deodorant and hair care, with Lennard predicting that this will continue, while the US is reaching further afield and spending more on skin care and bath and shower products.
Despite the differences in the market Lennard predicts that the global recession will hit both markets in different ways. However, it is not hindering the emergence of new trends in both markets including cross section brand movements, for example Gillette moving into skin care and hair care recently, multifunctional products and high tech developments.

Grooming and growing
One male grooming company that is no stranger to feeling the pressure of keeping costs under control is young UK brand Bulldog. Simon Duffy, co-founder of Bulldog, spoke for the second year running about the company and highlighted the leap in the market the brand has taken in that short space of time. His talk Connecting natural products with male consumers looked at the company’s marketing strategies, the journey from year one to year two and the development the brand has had to go through to get to that point. Highlighting that the company does not have the money of industry behemoths like Gillette and acknowledging the predictable nature of men’s packaging and advertising, Bulldog achieved a new look that it hoped would appeal to metrosexual and men’s men alike. The fact that the brand dared to be different and had a strong team behind it gave it the basis for its year one strategy – credibility. Getting the brand recognised as a credible market offering though PR, awards and association was the driving force behind its success and a 12 month exclusive contract with Sainsburys and the sponsorship of The London Wasps rugby club ensued and the awards, including the RSPCA Good Business award 2008 and the HSBC Start Up Stars, rolled in. Duffy spoke of a relatively successful first year, which moved the company on to its year two strategy – engagement. The team made a strategic move into online advertising. Said Duffy: “we realised that print advertising is very passive for men – for this type of consumer online is key.” In the past year Bulldog has graced the screens of podcasts, vodcasts, social networking sites and even has a brand partnership with Movember, a testicular cancer fundraising event. Bulldog also now retails in other stores such as Boots and Whole Foods. This was another key point for Duffy - the consolidation of good retailer relationships – a point that resonated with Peter Kelly, the next speaker and owner of Taxi London.

Hailing success
Originally developed for export the small Devonshire
company ‘s brand adopted the London part of its name to target a certain consumer. Initially developed as a female brand the male concept evolved as attention to the men’s market grew. “My wife had heard the word guyliner so many times that one day, after hearing it on the radio again, we made the application for the trademark that very day and fortunately got it,” said Kelly. Appreciating that men also have cosmetic issues, Kelly then created the three signature Taxi London products for men – Guyliner, Manscara, and Disguys – in order to allow them to look good for less money.
Kelly attributed much of the initial success of Taxi London’s products to the savvy PR team it worked with – one which got the brand noticed in the country’s news pages. With a great proportion of men now buying these products in Superdrug, Kelly spoke of the high hopes for the brand and the possibility of creating more products for men in the future. “We’ve had strong sales success in the UK, Scotland and Ireland with lots of online orders for overseas. Men’s cosmetics are here to stay and men will become more comfortable wearing it. In spite of this we are being realistic as we don’t have a big budget to take on the giants. But we have got ideas for this category, so watch this space!”