Premium Beauty News - What are your expectations concerning the U.S. market?
Alban Muller - The approach of this market is difficult, but we believe we can successfully introduce a new concept of eco-friendly cosmetics corresponding to societal expectations of consumers.
Currently the U.S. market represents 15% of our turnover, but this proportion will grow as we expanded our offering of services. From a simple ingredient supplier, we have become partners for research projects and creators of natural formulas. Indeed, the ingredients offering has diversified, formulas are increasingly sophisticated and consumers are increasingly demanding and informed.
The U.S. demand has changed significantly too. It became a market to buy skills. The reason is quite simple: the regulatory constraint is much stronger than before. U.S. cosmetics brands will have to comply with EU rules that are more stringent than theirs.
Today, a U.S. exporter wishing to enter the European market must comply with a heavy and demanding body of regulations requiring. When the turnover expected in Europe is too small compared to the cost of acquisition of these skills, it makes sense to use a local supplier. Actually, we bet that many American brands will relocate part of their production to Europe.
Premium Beauty News - How would you characterize the U.S. market?
Alban Muller - The market is hungry for news and trends, always dynamic, with a high standard.
Premium Beauty News - It is often said that North American customers are much less sensitive than Europeans regarding environmental issues?
Alban Muller - I do not think that is true. American companies have often been accused of green-washing practices. However, we observe that the chemical industry has made considerable efforts and the cosmetics industry is progressing in this field.
Furthermore, consumers get information more easily now. While in France, labelling is starting to display carbon footprint and environmental commitments, in the U.S., smartphone applications proposing to decipher product labels are increasingly popular. QR-type tags are increasingly used, allowing an easy and quick reading of products’ main features. It is very convenient for consumers, but a bit less comfortable for manufacturers, as we know that 60% of consumers change their product when they read and understand the label. That’s a major shift in the market that must be taken into account.
Premium Beauty News - Broadly speaking, how do you see the major market trends in the cosmetic world?
Alban Muller - I think the main change is concerning the growing search for external highly qualified expertise. Large companies are now fully aware of the advantages of outsourcing, when it is based on small and virtuous businesses. Network models such as the Cosmetic Valley can interface more easily public and private research.
The explanation for this trend reflects both the crisis and the growing complexity of the technical and regulatory environment. Outsourcing also allows to tap into creativity and innovation and to reduce development time.
The second major trend is the increased integration of environmental aspects into product design, particularly in terms of packaging. The industry is investing heavily to improve the life cycle of its products. Among the consequences of the tsunami that occurred last March in Japan is the acceleration of environmental awareness, especially among manufacturers. The mountain of waste that the waves washed away in the ocean is now concentrated in the Pacific. Each fish that dies by swallowing a plastic bag is a fish that man will not eat. We all understood the need to work on the biodegradability of our products and therefore of our waste.
For 15 days, the Earth has 7 billion people, and it is a figure that is still expected to grow: the challenge of our species survival is clearly stated.
Premium Beauty News - It is in these directions that you focus the development of Alban Muller International.
Alban Muller - Yes of course: we are not only developing technical skills but also social skills.
Our concern is to provide businesses with expertise in social responsibility, in full loyalty with the values of Alban Muller International, and by involving our clients. We want to ensure that we offer them concrete and tailored solutions, sustainable in the long term, to meet the many challenges they face. In this context of environmental issues, we provide relevant solutions in a timely manner, where all steps have been controlled.
This calls for partnerships in the medium and long term, as well as contracts for specific developments, which are also a way for us to have secure resources to improve the quality of our services. It’s a win-win situation because it helps us to optimize the cost of our research by focusing on the real needs of our partnering clients instead of working on risky and possibly inadequate “marketing hypotheses” that are cause time and energy wastes for all.