Held from March 9 to 12, in the context of difficult economic times in Italy, the 45th edition of Cosmoprof, Bologna, closed on a slight decline in the total number of visitors (-0.9%) compared to the previous year. However, according to the figures released by the organizers, this decrease did not affect the number of international visitors, which would have passed the 40,000 mark this year, thus representing a rise of 10% over 2011 (!).

This paradox may be explained by the difficult economic situation in Italy, particularly in the hairdressing sector, but also by the rise of several competitors.

Sluggish Italian market

The Italian cosmetics industry posted a 4.6% increase of its turnover in 2011, exceeding 9.6 billion euros, however this progression is mainly the result of the strong growth of exports (+14% in 2011 compared to 2010).

According to data published by Unipro, the trade association representing cosmetics makers in Italy, the local market rose by 1% in 2011, mainly driven by sales in pharmacies, amounting to 1.8 billion euros (+1.8%), and herbalist shops, amounting to 380 million euros (+3.9 %), while sales in perfumeries and supermarkets only grew by 0.7%, reaching 2.28 and 4.11 billion euros respectively.

In contrast, sales in hair salons suffered a 1.5% reduction of their total value, finishing the year at 690 million euros. A situation that is largely due, said Unipro, to consumers spacing the occurrence of their visits. Despite the fact the efforts of certain salons that succeeded in stopping the drop of their revenues by proposing an increased number and variety of products and services, sales of cosmetics in this network have reached their lowest level over the last 7 years.

Increased competition

In this difficult environment, Cosmoprof also has to cope with the growing success of more targeted Italian shows, such as Esxence in Milan or Pitti Fragranze in Florence. Dedicated to niche perfumery, the two events have pre-empted this segment and the Bolognese giant never succeeded in regaining ground in this field. From this perspective, the creation this year of an Extraordinary Gallery - which was supposed to gather the best creations and innovations in the fashion, design, beauty and even food areas - failed to convince on the chances of Cosmoprof grow again in this area.

Another real blow for Cosmoprof, was the creation, two years ago, of the Intercharm show in Milan, which bet on the strong assets of a strategic location in the Lombard capital and a brand new exhibition centre, to target the segments of professional hair products and beauty supplies for the salon industry, the historic core of Cosmoprof. The creation of this new competitor is likely to explain most of the decrease in Italian visitors at Cosmoprof, despite the organizers’ efforts who booked prime locations for Essie, the American nail polish and nail care brand that L’Oreal launched in Europe last year, and for Maletti, the leading Italian supplier of equipment and furniture for hair salons, spas and beauty salons, who was back in Bologna this year.

Suppliers halls: discontent among the machinery

As far as the Cosmopack section is concerned, Halls 19 and 20, which usually host the suppliers of the beauty industry, have apparently seen a stronger attendance this year compared to 2011, at least on Friday. However the weekend was unsurprisingly dull, in the opinion of many professionals. The cancelation, two years ago, of specific opening dates for this area (from Thursday to Sunday, instead of Friday to Monday) clearly had the negative impact that exhibiting manufacturers forecasted. So far, their warnings had found no echo among the organizers, who ostensibly opted for a retail-oriented event, including heavy investments in TV promotion.

Does the management change that occurred a few days before the opening of the show mean this strategy will be reoriented? Who knows? In any case,Aureliana de Sanctis, who managed the show for the last five years and was a strong supporter of the retail positioning, was replaced by Duccio Campagnoli, current president of the BolognaFiere group, who will therefore cumulate the two functions, assisted by Dino Tavazzi and Angela Laganà, two specialists of the cosmetics industry.

Will this change anything at the end? That’s a story to be continued. Anyway, Hall 19 was full of machines this year, closer from the Düsseldorf’s Interpak show than from the unavoidable Cosmoprof Bologna-Cosmopack event that hardly any packaging or purchasing manager from a European or global cosmetics brand would have missed ten years ago. As a consequence, more and more key packaging and full service suppliers are moving away from the show, while others, apparently, still get something out of the game.

Nevertheless, with over 175,000 visitors and 2,320 exhibitors, Cosmoprof remains the leading international exhibition for the beauty industry worldwide. Actually, the new managing team just have to cope with a new situation while answering old questions about the show’s priorities…