Last week was the first ever Cosmetics Vision event. Held in Cannes, South of France, a diverse and engaging conference programme had attendees and speakers fiercely debating the right direction for the industry, while also agreeing about the importance of dialogue.
“The programme had an international scope covering a really wide range of topics that helped lend the event significant depth and gravitas,” said Bertil Heerink, director general of trade association Cosmetics Europe, speaking at the sidelines of the event.
“For me the programme provided a fresh approach to many of the topics that are discussed at industry events all over the world, as well as introducing a number of completely new topics that are emerging as important to the industry,” Heerink added.
Diversity of speakers and topics helped forge perspective
Heerink gave a presentation in the opening segment of the event’s conference programme, which followed on from the first presentation, given by the world’s only beauty futurologist, Jeanine Recckio.
Recckio discussed what science and technology has in store for the cosmetics industry in the not too distant future, while Heerink’s presentation focused on his vision to forge greater global collaboration in an effort to paint a brighter industry future.
Although these two presentations were in stark contrast to one another, the question and answer session at the end of the segment illustrated how the two presenters saw communication on an industry level as being crucial to its future growth and development.
Fresh angles on both old and emerging topics
Indeed, one of the key ‘take-aways’ from the event was perspective. Whilst some topics such as sustainability and natural are by no means ‘new’, Cosmetics Vision looked at these areas from a fresh angle; a new perspective.
Talks from Estée Lauder’s Dr Liliana George stated that whilst it is vital for the industry to continue its sustainable strategies, we need to be careful not to create confusion around the term ‘green’ and use it to label everything, thus falling into the green washing trap.
Likewise, Unilever’s Inge Terpstra noted that clarity needs to be provided in the natural arena too. The hair care expert stressed the importance of the natural segment, but introduced a fresh perspective which suggests that these products are not solely sold on the basis that they are natural – innovation is key.
Sustainability is more than the environmental footprint…
We also heard discussions centred around sustainability and how it does not just mean the environmental footprint but also the social and economic impact it has too.
On the marketing and product side, back-to-back sessions on the future trends and how current regulations can affect market entry gave perspective that the industry can be both innovative and compliant.
One of the key themes in three very different talks from Heerink, CONUSBAT’s Annelie Struessmann, and Seers Consulting’s Alain Khaiat was that regulation can, in the words of Struessman, “be a benefit, not a burden”.
Debate went beyond the speaker podium
Opportunities to network and discuss key industry topics were also plentiful outside the speaker programme, highlighted by a series of round table discussions over lunch on the first full day of the event.
One of the round tables involved newly established brands like CarenMINERALS and Iceland Cream, with some of the bigger players like Unilever and Estee Lauder to discuss how ecommerce is shifting and what the industry will have to do in order to compete.
Whilst the smaller players passionately argued that they were giving the bigger players a run for their money on the platform in terms of the 'story telling experience', all executives agreed that customisation and packaging for the virtual shelf had yet to be mastered in the beauty industry.
Do the big brands have a story to tell or not?
"The big cosmetic players don't have a story to tell and that's where the niche brands are successful with consumers, as they have something to relate to," CarenMINERALS CEO Michael Wolf announced to the table of 10.
However, Dr. Liliana George disagreed, stating her belief that it was actually players like Unilever that are relating to the customer through clever storytelling, evinced by its series of Dove campaigns.
Likewise, another highly discussed topic in ecommerce - sensorial experience verses efficient and cheaper purchasing was debated, with most attendees voting that the overall experience for the online shopper needs to be heightened if brands are to compete with retail's latest in house gimmicks and gadgets.
The second Cosmetics Vision is already in the planning stages for next year, and should again take place at the Martinez Hotel in Cannes during the month of March. Exact dates and programme details are set to be released in the Autumn.