For Jean-Luc Ansel, chief executive of Cosmetic Valley and Franckie Bechereau, export and communication director, "the links between China and France in the beauty sector began in 2008. Cosmetic Valley has been invited by China to come to the country’s largest exhibition, China Beauty Expo. In 2010, the Cosmetic Valley decides to be present for the first time on CBE. Since then, she has renewed the experience every year, in order to promote the France Brand”. From this adventure, many partnerships and projects were born, including the famous BeautéVille, a Chinese clone of the Cosmetic Valley.
A key market
In 2017, the French cosmetics export market signed a new record at 13.6 billion euros (+12% over one year). French exports of cosmetic products to Asia soared by 25% over one year, with a growth rate of over 30% in China in particular. One out of 5 French cosmetic products now leaves for Asia, according to FEBEA. Care and perfumes still account for 3/4 of French exports in the sector (44.3% for care and 31% for perfumes).
The Chinese market is evolving and moving upmarket, as confirmed by the figures published by L’Oréal, where the Luxury Goods and Active Cosmetics divisions are posting solid sales. But China is also a volatile market. The Chinese consumer is increasingly aware and brands that want to succeed in China must create links with their interlocutors; working over the long term remains difficult. Especially since local brands want to assert themselves.
The French manufacturers have a real role to play in the development of value creation, in particular through the country’s fields of excellence such as lipo chemistry with the ITERG (Institut des Corps Gras) in Bordeaux or the research of bioactive peptides (with the PENERE European project in Caen).
“Our objective is to forge lasting links with companies targeted at different sites in China, including Beauté Ville and Fengxian," continues Jean-Luc Ansel. “France is the country of cosmetic research, our R&D budget is 350 million euros, divided into 300 innovative projects. Throughout France, we have territories of expertise by regions grouped within the Domains of Strategic Territorial Excellence (DEST). The France brand is a symbol of performance, safety and know-how. The quality of French products is recognized throughout the world; we deliver healthy, validated and safe products. Another asset is training: we have an important card to play in China. France is a country where training is well developed and of high quality. Our know-how in this field is undeniable thanks to our engineering schools, our aesthetic training... China is in demand, it is up to us to respond.”
From supplier to high-tech specialist
This year, for the first time, the Cosmetic Valley has two pavilions at China Beauty Expo: one 420 m2 in hall E2 and the other 104 m2 in hall N4 which groups together the entire supply chain for the cosmetics sector COSMETECH (packaging, formulations, ingredients, accessories and services), i.e. a third of the total exhibition space with over 1000 exhibitors. COSMETECH is representing the largest Beauty Factory in the world with 7 halls dedicated to supply chain.
According to Claudia Bonfiglioli - General Manager of Informa Beauty “COSMETECH give the largest opportunity ever to brands to search new qualified suppliers in each category. Since two years COSMETECH has an ingredient advanced science in beauty project in Collaboration with IFSCC to bring R&D expert to the platform.”
This N4 supply chain hall now includes these companies specializing in fields as varied as knowledge of skin physiology used for efficacy tests as know-how in glassware or R&D in formulation with Roval Cosmétiques, full service and custom solutions. The Pochet Group, an independent family business for over four centuries, French leader in luxury packaging will exhibit its latest creations. This company aims to become a world leader in multi-material luxury packaging for the beauty sector. To its credit, the last bottle of Chanel’s Gabrielle perfume or the “stiletto” of Louboutin nail polish.
For Franckie Bechereau, "France has a varied choice of subcontracting companies, each with their often unique specialities, for the Chinese market. Among them, present under CV flag, VTA France represents the know-how of the French glassworks, specialist manufacturer of the glass bottle in tube drawn to measure, of caps type roll-on, capsule, dropper, pump...and of decorations (on glass in metallization, frosting, screen printing enamel or organic). It also manufactures and packages, in full service, samples of perfumes. Another field is testing with Bioalternatives, a company specializing in the evaluation of cosmetics, which offers more than 300 in vitro and ex vivo efficacy tests.”
Challenges for the French cosmetics industry
The “premiumisation” of the market is forcing Chinese brands to look for cutting-edge know-how, both in the technical and creative fields. “Our expertise in French brand creation fascinates the Chinese,” Françoise Barthélémy from the Carlin Paris agency, who has been supporting Chinese brands in the lingerie sector for over 25 years. “The Occitane brand is the ultimate model for the Chinese. Even if trends in China differ from those in the West, the search for naturality, ecology and the weight of labels and references remain a foundation on which brands can be built. Cosmetics is a relatively young market in China. The care habits are still summary, with the exception of body care where rituals are more developed with the use of oils. As for skin care, the Chinese mainly seek to act on the color of their complexion by making it less yellow.”
The other important point is regulatory. The CFDA (China Food and Drug Administration) has revised its cosmetic regulations, adopted since 2016. China is willing to adapt to European regulations, even if specificities remain, such as the compulsory approval for a new ingredient or the long and complex registration allowing cosmetics to be exported to China. This being the case, French companies that depend on European legislation are already well established during the year.
China Beauty Expo