Premium Beauty News - You launched at the end of 2011 the Cosmébio-Ecocert certified Damana Organic Bath Line. What is the demand like from hotels on this type of product?

Marie-Cécile Pineau - We all know that the trend for natural and organic products remains strong among consumers of cosmetics. This is a global and durable underlying consumer trend. With this new range, which complements the N-KI Organic Bath Line launched in 2009, we offer a new solution to help hotel managers meet this customer demand. These certified lines offer them real guarantees concerning the ingredients and manufacturing processes involved.

Premium Beauty News - Your group is specialized in guest amenities for hotels. You are one of the market leaders, but you are little known?

Marie-Cécile Pineau - The GM Group is a family business founded in 1988 by Georges Marchand, which is now managed by his children. With a network of 24 exclusive distributors, the GM Group is present in hotels the world over, in 60 countries on five continents. It is true that we prefer promoting our distributors, however I can assure you that decision makers in large international groups know us well.

From its inception, the group reinvented the concept of guest amenities in the hospitality industry by signing licensing agreements with major cosmetic brands like L’Oréal, Ô de Lancôme, Nina Ricci, Yves Rocher. Today we manage a portfolio of thirty brands that we are always striving to develop. We also have a service for creating made to measure exclusive lines. But we have no intent of putting ourselves forward. Our products must bring added value to our hotel partners and the brands we are working with, although from a legal point of view, we are the ones responsible for placing on the market.

Premium Beauty News - Precisely, how do you manage the regulatory constraints of this market very international by nature?

Marie-Cécile Pineau - Given our position as a global player, it is a requirement that our products comply with all regulations. As a result, we sometimes have to put up to ten different languages on our product packagings, which are by definition, very small in size. To this must added compulsory indications such as the list of ingredients, the name of the person in charge of placing on the market and the period after opening (PAO). But this is very well managed by a highly specialized and professional cosmetic team who stays aware of any regulatory changes and ensures that ingredients used are in full compliance with the regulations of the markets on which we operate. This enables us to guarantee the safety and compliance of our products to hotel owners, they are aware of that and trust us. We have been operating on this marketplace for over 30 years and the fact we work with big names in cosmetics has enabled us to acquire a highly specialized expertise in this area.

The placing on the market of hotel cosmetics meets the same regulatory requirements as the marketing of any other cosmetic products, we are faced with the same constraints. The evolution of the European legislation, with the entry into force of the Cosmetic Regulations also represents for us a real challenge, that will result in additional costs.

But despite the difficulties they may cause, regulatory constraints are quite manageable for well organized companies. Especially since these new constraints will also result in substantial advantages for consumers. And I also believe that they will help remove from the market some non-compliant products that are still sometimes found in some hotels.

Premium Beauty News - What are the other particularities of the market of guest supplies?

Marie-Cécile Pineau - It is a very diversified market where the price pressure is considerable. Diversified because we must meet the needs of all size customers. In practice, this goes from the small 10 room hotel to mammoth hotel structures of more than 5,000 rooms in Las Vegas. Not to mention hotel chains agreements, which imply that we must be able to deliver in all countries where the hotel groups are present.

The type of demands also varies a lot. A line of guest amenities usually includes individual body and shampoo doses, ranging from 20 to 40 ml, soap, and additional products such as bath salts, hand creams, sewing and manicure kits, etc. Without forgetting the stand for the products.

We have a global offer, that also takes account of the specific local conditions in the different countries and cultures, as sizes and usages may vary widely from country to country. The Nordic countries for example, have a strong preference for rechargeable dispensers rather than individual products. In the U.S. products will be larger in size than in Europe. Also in the U.S., shampoos and conditioners must be presented in separate containers. In Europe, on the contrary, people appreciate the convenience of a 2-in-1 hair and body product. Not to mention preferences in terms of scents, that can vary considerably from one area to another.

As hoteliers offer these products to their customers, they are often tempted to limit costs on this line item. We must be able to meet all requests staying in a price range below 30 cents per product! But image is an important factor, don’t forget that guest amenities are among the first things a customer will notice when he enters his room: product design, presentation and brand name also have a lot of importance for the room enhancement and the perception a customer will have of it. For a cosmetic brand, it is an extraordinary showcase to help reach a targeted customer category.

To meet demand from the hotel industry, we have two factories in Europe, one in France and one in Portugal. We also rely on a network of subcontractors around the world including in China to serve the Asian and North American markets.

Premium Beauty News - In such a context, how does your offer for natural and organic products find its place?

Marie-Cécile Pineau - Quit naturally! This is another constraint of the equation, hotel managers are aware of the difficulty of the exercise and of its impact on prices but they have a strong customer demand for these products. It is a challenge for us and for them. Volumes are still low, mainly because of price constraints. But the trend for natural and environmentally products is strong. Increasingly, in the specifications of their invitations to tender, our customers add sustainable development criteria. A concern for the environment is becoming the norm. Although they are not the only solution nor a panacea environmentally speaking, it is obviously within such a context that natural and organic products find their place.

Always with these environmental concerns in mind, the GM Group offers Ecosource, an exclusive solution - with an European Ecolabel certification - consisting in a refillable dispenser that can contain thanks to its airless pouch, preservative-free sensitive formulas. Over 70,000 dispensers of this type have been installed in hotels of our customers around the world.

In the coming years, sustainable development will certainly be in our area, the source of many technological innovations but also of changes in consumption patterns.