No less than five roundtables and thirty panellists have succeeded on both days of MakeUp in New York on 25 and 26 September 2013. An opportunity to address the issue of innovation in the makeup industry through avenues varied as "The interaction between fashion and makeup", "Innovation and economic realities", "The collaboration between customer and supplier on packaging innovation", "Fast to market," or even "The Innovation made in Korea."

Innovation constraints and drivers

For Philippe Jourdan, from research and consultancy firm Promise Consulting Associates Inc., understanding the drivers of innovation of different makeup brands first implies to clearly identify their different territories. According to him, three main categories can be clearly separated: fashion brands, beauty brands (coming from the skin care business), and finally pure makeup brands, often derived from the professional world. For each of these categories, consumer expectations diverge as well as the drivers of innovation.

In this context, the influence of fashion is not the same for a brand like MAC, coming from the professional makeup world, and for a brand like Clinique, grown in the skincare field.

In any cases, innovation has to face the challenges of reality, with costs coming first. To which, one must add “time and, more and more often, testing” says Marc-Andre Houx, President, Shya Hsin Packaging USA. According to him, time is the second key constraint after money.

However, Anthony Heraud, Vice President Project & Development, Axilone USA, notes that “better processes, better dosing are costly to develop but can also lower the costs in the end.

Another important factor, according to Nicole Masson, Vice President, Global Product Development, MAC, is globalisation, which is both an innovation driver, when brands need to address different needs, tastes or climates, and a constraint, when they have to comply with diverging regulations.

So it is very important, during the innovation process, “to focus on the best ideas and concepts and to concentrate investments on them,” explains Thomas Krasser, Vice President Sales, Schwan Cosmetics,

Supplier and customer relationship

After having highlighted the many aspects that can take innovation, including the importance for the makeup sector, of application methods and system of formula protection, Stephanie Martins, Vice President Corporate Development & Packaging North America at L’Oreal, explained how the French cosmetics giant seeks to stimulate the creativity of its suppliers, particularly in the context of Cherry Pack, the event held annually in the group headquarters nearby Paris. For the first time this year, U.S. suppliers have been invited to participate in the event.

For his part, John Butcher, Senior Vice President, New Product Support & Engineering at Revlon emphasized the important role of full-service providers when it comes to meet specific market needs or to respond quickly to an emerging trend.

Speaking on behalf of suppliers, Charles Chang, CEO of Topline Products, nevertheless recalled that given the amount of money required to innovate, suppliers and customers need to cooperate, exchange information on consumer expectations and strive to limit financial risks.

Eric Bone, Corporate Research and Innovation Manager at L’Oreal, said meanwhile that the philosophy of the group has always been to develop the brands it had acquired from the country from which they originated. A means, he said, to preserve the historical links with suppliers and also, of course, to maintain the spirit of the brand.

All the panellists, whether brands representatives or their suppliers, also stressed that the time-to-market largely lost in importance when a genuine breakthrough innovation is at stake.

The more innovative is a product, the more flexible the customer is with regard to delays,” Thomas Weckerle, CEO of Weckerle Cosmetics, confirms.

For Eric Bone, “product safety and consumer satisfaction are the priority.” Because innovation involves not only a financial risk, it also carries a risk for the brands’ image. Actually, brands cannot afford to disappoint their customers.