AUTHOR: Imogen Matthews
This year’s Round Table discussions at the Marketing Trends theatre brought together leading experts and brand representatives from across the beauty and personal care industry. With the UK’s exit from the EU less than two years away, the Brexit topic was top of the agenda on Day 1 of the show. Other Round Table panels discussed how to create a thriving niche brand and what sustainability means to cosmetic and related firms.
Brexit – What does this mean for the UK and the EU cosmetics industry?
Moderator: Dr Emma Meredith, director of science, CTPA
Panellists: Olivia Santini, head of regulatory & international services; Anthony Robinson, principal adviser for EU negotiations, CBI
The CTPA is the UK’s leading trade association who acts on behalf of companies that make, supply and sell cosmetic and personal care products. Its 175 members collectively represent between 80-85% of the UK market. With the triggering of Article 50 in March 2017, the CTPA will be working closely across all the relevant EU institutions involved in the exit process, including the European Council, European Commission, Council of the European Union and European Parliament. Article 50 details the steps taken to agree on the withdrawal, but not the future relationship between the UK and the EU. “We have only two years to do it all,” explained Santini. “Any sort of detailed relationship would have to be put in a separate agreement. It could take longer than two years.”
Anthony Robinson, for the CBI, envisaged that after the initial negotiations, work will begin in earnest in September 2017. “The ‘divorce’ will be relatively simple and that there will be a transition deal at the end of two years,” he stated. “A big part of the negotiations is that the government wants to retain a lot of single market benefits, but this will be tricky,” he maintained. The CBI will need to keep focus on the economic arguments, understanding and influencing in Europe, and helping businesses through the political noise.
Santini presented facts and figures on UK trade in the global market, confirming that the UK exports £2030.2m to the EU (mostly to the Irish Republic, Germany and Belgium) and imports £2,157.6m from the EU (mostly to France and Germany). The EU is the UK’s main trading partner and the UK cosmetics industry is seen as a vibrant exporter. The UK industry employs some 200,000 people and makes a significant and growing contribution to the economy.
The three cosmetic industry key asks are:
- Remain in the Customs Union until a Free Trade Agreement with the EU is reached
- Provide a clear and reasonable phased implementation for changes to UK/EU trade from leaving the EU to signing a full Free Trade Agreement
- Avoid additional administrative trade barriers by securing Administrative Cooperation with EU Competent Authorities for cosmetics post-Brexit.
Dr Meredith concluded the discussion, “’The CTPA is involved with MPs and CBI and engaging with all relevant players to ensure that the UK cosmetics industry remains ahead of the curve.”
The major ways cosmetic and related firms are tackling sustainability
Moderator: Amarjit Sahota, founder & president, Ecovia Intelligence
Panellists: Jayn Sterland, managing director, Weleda; Chris Sayner, vice president, global accounts, Croda; Dr Michel Philippe, sustainable innovation manager, L’Oreal
Each panelist was asked their view on the major environmental and social issues facing cosmetics companies. From an ingredient perspective, Chris Sayner described the increasing demands put on Croda to understand exactly what sustainability credentials should include, e.g. water consumption, renewable greenhouse gases, social accountability within the supply chain etc. “Croda’s role as an ingredient supplier is to be proactive in creating a sustainable supply chain,” he affirmed.
For Jayne Sterland, sustainability has always been part of the DNA of the Weleda brand, which has been recognised globally for its work within Corporate Sustainable Responsibility (CSR), as well as winning various industry sustainability awards. Stating that over 80% of Weleda’s products are organic or bio-dynamic, she said, “The challenge to our industry is how to produce natural and organic products that are truly sustainable.”
For L’Oreal, it has become a definition of responsibility, stated Dr Philippe, particularly with regard to the consumer. “How do you define a green ingredient? Does it mean natural, or something broader? It’s difficult to establish these rules, but we must endeavour to make them clear.”
Sahota spoke of how the sustainability agenda has grown in importance over the past 10 years and asked the panelists what they would like to see in the next 5-10 years. Sterland would like all companies to work voluntarily in partnership and take their lead from the standards set by the global Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT).
Dr Philippe pointed out that customers will want to know more and more about what is on the label and unless the industry manages its raw materials this will prove difficult. “We need to have clarity on exactly how sustainable formulations are,” he argued. As an ingredient supplier, Croda will need to be proactive, affirmed Sayner.
“Specifically, reducing carbon is something our industry has to manage, and facing that will be a challenge over the next five years.”
How to create a thriving niche brand
Moderator: Angelika Meiss, editor, COSSMA
Panellists: Nitasha Buldeo, founder, Organic Apoteke; Maleka Dattu, founder, Merumaya; Corinna Morley, in-house beauty expert, Trilogy
This year’s niche round table featured three skincare brands, each with a distinct positioning within the market. Angelika Meiss introduced the panel by saying that it has become a lot easier to launch in today’s digital world, but that does not mean it is any easier to become successful.
Dr Nitasha Buldeo grew up in South Africa, watching her grandmother cook up Ayurvedic-inspired skincare products in her own kitchen, which were used to treat skin conditions. Later, and fascinated by how these products worked, she analysed the formulations and decided to create her own, making sure they were safe, pure and effective. She moved to the UK and set up Organic Apoteke, marrying cosmeceuticals and organics, but she had no idea about marketing. The products had high levels of actives that stimulate the micro-circulation and Dr Buldeo received complaints from some customers who thought they were having an allergic reaction. Finding it difficult to get across the brand concept in retail, in 2012, she made the decision to relaunch the brand as a professional-only range for use in spas. The focus is now on wellbeing as well as skincare.
Merumaya is an evidence-based skincare range containing clinically tested actives that are proven to work in certain concentrations. Maleka Dattu created a point of difference for her brand by describing it as an integrative holistic approach to skincare. One of the challenges she faced was in creating formulations that address the different signs of ageing ranging from sensitivity to acne when using active ingredients that could work against rather than in synergy with each other. The solution was to load the formulations with anti-inflammatories. “In addition, the formulatons are all free from ‘BS’, miracles and fear-mongering and do not over-claim or are over-priced or over-packaged,” she affirmed. Key to this positioning is to talk about youthful ageing, not anti-ageing, which Dattu maintained is a word often used that makes you feel bad about yourself.
New Zealand brand Trilogy started in 2002 with a rose hip oil at a time that the skincare market was awash with high-tech brands. The brand became known as a brand that works. “Trilogy is about natural skincare that can be even better than synthetic and we wanted to bring it into mainstream beauty,” said Morley. “The maximum effect on the skin with the minimum effect on the environment” is the brand’s mantra. Trilogy is now in 25 markets and 4,500 stores with five product ranges.
Each of the brand representatives were asked what advice they would give to other start-up brands. With so many similar brands on the market, Morley argued that it is important to consider where to launch as this will dictate whether a brand should be high end or masstige. Dattu said that for every point of difference, you must ask yourself “So what?” She maintained that the hardest thing is to distil this into one sentence. She also advised on underestimating sales, while overestimating how much it will all cost. Dr Buldeo stressed that, despite the difficulties, it is important to believe in what you do.