Looking for a new lease of life
According to the testimonials of those who have been attending the show for many years, the HBA is presently unrecognisable compared to what it was ten years or even five years ago. All sectors were impacted by the loss of key exhibitors.
This was particularly striking on the side of ingredient suppliers, who were still numerous a few years ago. "A large number of exhibitors now focus on the Suppliers’ Day organized by the NYSCC , which takes place in New Jersey", pointed out Nicolas Meyrial, National Account Executive Personal Care, at Naturex specialised in plant-derived substances. Nonetheless, the participation, among others, of Catalent, Clariant, and Rossow USA was noticeable.
The conclusion is the same for packaging, with a massive presence of Asian suppliers, but with yet, a smaller number of big players such as Arrowpak, Alpha Packaging, Coswel Korea, Elcos, Fusion Packaging, Lablabo, Mega Pumps, Topline Products or Yonwoo.
As for formulators and full service players, the presence of important European companies was noticeable, especially in the make-up segment, such as b-kolor makeup & skincare and Technocosmesi, along with such American companies as Columbia Cosmetics, Lady Burd, and Wormser Corporation, or the Korean Hwa Sung.
As for the organizers, while visitors figures are not yet available, they insist on the efforts that were made this year to concentrate invitations on the most qualified buyers.
“We did hear from several exhibitors that they met with high quality attendees from Avon, Coty, Revlon, Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Lancome, Maybelline, MAC, Unilever, Tarte, Sephora, and more top brands that were in attendance along with several top independent brands,” said Jill Birkett, Brand Director for HBA Global.
“Through comments on-site and through tweets and other real-time applications we did hear that attendees were pleased with the increase in European exhibitors, that there were exciting innovations on the exhibit floor,” she added
A rich conference program
One thing that does not change on the HBA is its rich program of conferences, who for most of them required an entrance fee. These training are undoubtedly extremely popular, to such a point that some visitors only allow themselves a short detour to the exhibition area. Among the speakers, many of them are also former exhibitors who now limit their participation to one or two presentations before an audience they generally judge very interesting.
“Trying to accommodate the needs of the brand and product managers seeking education with a balance of time on the exhibit hall is always a challenge. This year, we added more education to Thursday so that we could have a longer break mid-day Tuesday and Wednesday to allow conference attendees the chance to spend more time on the exhibit floor,” explained Jill Birkett.
With a dozen rooms dedicated for this purpose and more than 70 conferences giving voice to a panel of three or four experts, i.e. over 200 stakeholders, the program addresses many topical issues in the areas of marketing, international trade and sustainable development.
To note this year, a morning dedicated to French cosmetics which was orchestrated by the Cosmetic Valley and its president, Alban Muller, during which were exposed the operating mode and the activities of this cluster so unique in the world that groups together nearly 500 companies, universities and labs. The aim being to show how the "Made in France" integrated environmental concerns and the use of natural substances.
An invigorated market, very much price-oriented
If economic recovery is obvious after the downturn, many companies and consultants believe on the other hand that the U.S. market is still very much focused in trying to find the best price. Even in the high-end sector, customers are on the lookout for promotional operations and for the gifts that come along with them.
While it was felt that, the ecological trend was on the rise on the U.S. market, sustainable offer was however not as prominent on the stands of exhibitors, as what could be observed in European or even Asian trade shows. Does this mean that American consumers and companies show a lack of interest for these issues? The opinions we collected differ widely. The ones note that the issue on parabens, for example, is here much less sensitive than in Europe. Others highlight that some companies such as Proter & Gamble have a real advantage regarding the use of plant based plastic packaging.
Anyway, the market is structuring and developing itself. For some years now, for example, Whole Foods Market, the specialist in organic food, offers large areas dedicated to personal care products, under the brand name "Whole Body". Sephora in turn created a label called "Naturally Sephora" to identify the products that were meeting its corporate specifications. But mostly, certification is starting to grow withthe development of official U.S. standards under the guidance of the ANSI.  "We have certified a hundred of products since February", explained Jacklyn Bowen, General Manager of Quality Assurance International (QAI).
Market figures are also not bad at all. Lagging behind for some time because of the recession and after stagnating in 2009, the U.S. market for natural cosmetics has strongly taken off in 2010 and has just passed the USD 5 billion mark, according to Organic Monitor, in particular through the impetus given by private labels which were launched by mass market operators.