Premium Beauty News - Can you describe UBIFRANCE to us, in particular its activity in the cosmetics industry?

Muriel Lartigue - UBIFRANCE, the French agency for export promotion, aims to assist French companies in their efforts to export: from guiding them on the markets to linking with foreign operators and developing business relations. To fulfil this mission, we rely on our overseas offices that form a multicultural network now present in 60 countries. We have almost 880 employees outside France, of which a hundred at the disposal of French cosmetics companies.

The main personalized services offered by UBIFRANCE include: the identification of potential markets, the information on industry opportunities and regulatory issues, the identification of potential business partners, boosting French companies’ visibility in the press abroad, strengthening human resources abroad through International Corporate Volunteering.

Thanks to their dynamism, innovation and international reputation, the French cosmetics industry is a major asset for our trade balance. It is therefore very important that companies of this sector may enjoy the benefice from a personalized international support over time.

Premium Beauty News - UBIFRANCE organizes business meetings (with the operators of the luxury sector in China, for example, in April 2013, or those of the cosmetics industry in South Korea in November 2013), how do they work?

Muriel Lartigue - The collective support of companies is an important part of the services we offer to the industry. This can be achieved through the sponsorship of two types of events: French pavilions on major international and regional exhibitions (Cosmoprof Asia, Beauty World Middle East, Cosmoprof Bologna, Intercharm Moscow, In-Cosmetics, etc.) and the business meetings that provide an opportunity for companies to explore new markets.

These business meetings are usually held on 2-3 days and gather around 8 to 10 companies. They consist of a common component (informative seminar, visits of outlets, etc.) and a program of targeted meetings with local operators, according to specifications previously defined with each participating company.

The collective operations are undeniably generating business. A survey to measure the business impact of our services, which was entrusted to ISPOS, showed that in 2011, eight out of ten UBIFRANCE corporate clients identified potential customers, previously unknown to them, and that six have signed an order or established a business relationship with a positive outlook.

Premium Beauty News - In December, UBIFRANCE organizes the Rencontres Internationales de la Beauté” (International Beauty Meetings”).

Muriel Lartigue - This is a first in this sector. Building on the success of the meetings that we organize already in the health and digital industries for instance, we deemed logical to duplicate the formula to support the beauty industry.

The goal of this event is to enable companies in the beauty industry to meet during one day with industry experts from around fifteen different countries (Brazil, United States, Korea South China, etc.) as well as with our partners such as Oseo, Coface and INPI, to discuss the issues they have to solve when exporting. Also, it will be the opportunity to take on industry trends and the market access issues in these countries.

The day will consist of a plenary session in the morning during which we will discuss major trends in mature and emerging markets with our experts and a panel of companies that will share their experience. Discussions will be continued during a networking lunch, before the second part of the day: face-to-face meetings between with our experts.

Sponsored by STIO (a freight forwarder and logistics company), the event is free of charge for participating companies. Our ambition is to grow it as a key annual meeting for international development in the cosmetics industry, thanks to the support of all major stakeholders in the sector. The entire cosmetic industry is concerned: manufacturers of finished goods, suppliers and service providers to the cosmetics industry, not to mention the manufacturers of dietary supplements.

Premium Beauty News - UBIFRANCE thus appears as a true market observation tool. What do you see as the major trends and developments in the global cosmetics market?

Muriel Lartigue - While the cosmetics market is also impacted by the current crisis, it remains dynamic and is expected to grow at about 4% in 2012.

However, this good rate hides important disparities between geographical areas. Europe is certainly the area where the impact is the highest, but it remains the largest market for French cosmetics makers. Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy were still in the top 5 destinations of French exports of cosmetic products in 2011. Actually, historic markets (Western Europe, USA, Japan) dramatically contrast with emerging markets in terms of dynamism. In the short term, some emerging markets - first and foremost China, Brazil and Russia - will account for more than half of the global consumption. Russia already ranks as the 7th destination of French cosmetic products and China ranks 11th.

As far as trends are concerned, over recent years we have observed deep movements affecting several countries at varying degrees: the growing importance of organic and natural products, strong market segmentation with the development of products for men, children / teenagers and elderly people. Furthermore, more technical products have emerged and distribution networks have diversified, in particular with the emergence of alternative channels.

These underlying trends should not hide the strong specificities of the various markets that may be cultural, sociological, climatic and regulatory. They also have a significant impact on the opportunities offered by each market, in particular in terms of accessibility. Any company wishing to expand internationally should understand these characteristics. Similarly, the rise of competition cannot be ignored by French companies.

I’m pleased to invite the cosmetics industry to discuss these issues on the occasion of the first edition of the Rencontres Internationales de la Beauté, which will be held on December 11, in UBIFRANCE’s premises.