Premium Beauty News - How would you describe your company’s contribution to the beauty industry?
Univar - We bring expertise in terms of network, warehousing and logistics. At the same time, we’re very conscious that beauty companies also need technical expertise.
Most of our customers are pressed for time and ideas. Being able to listen and pitch concepts makes us quite unique in distribution. Typically, the services we provide and the quality of our concepts, formulas and technical teams isn’t what you find in distribution, but in manufacturing and finished goods.
Premium Beauty News - What are the main transformations affecting your business today?
Univar - Our customers are now going to great lengths to be as transparent as possible not only on their packaging but in their marketing.
They not only expect but demand that the information about product ingredients is readily available and honest.
We need to provide as much regulatory and marketing information as we can. It’s a constant race against the click.
There’s a shopping basket mentality, and it isn’t that different from home to at work. The buyers and planners for big beauty brands are expecting that same level of service, transparency and rapidity.
We are setting ourselves up to be the number one in distribution from an e-commerce standpoint. We haven’t yet rolled this out in Europe, but we have in the US and Canada. We have an e-commerce platform for our customers where they are able to order like it’s Amazon. They can order materials, see how much credit they have left and find key regulatory information.
For our large partners, we might even integrate our systems with theirs through this platform.
It’s a huge undertaking, but it will make ordering in chemicals just as easy as ordering groceries (for qualified parties in order to keep it safe and controlled). This will be a true trailblazer platform in terms of e-commerce in distribution.
Premium Beauty News - What is your vision of beauty in 10 years? What will be your contribution to this beauty of the future?
Univar - Maybe stores will still be there, especially for fragrance, but more as a hangout or a place to have a VIP experience.
It’s very possible that the future will be about being able to service more customers and education. Having roadshows and showing people how to do things safely and what the ingredients mean in the formula, as well as working with partners to structure the messaging going out to that consumer base.
It may be that e-commerce is democratized and that customers can purchase their favorite beauty ingredients on Univar.com, instead of just on sites like Aroma Zone.
Voice command is going to be the new disrupter of the future. Imagine you are watching the latest YouTube blogger and she’s going faster than you. Maybe at this point, you’re watching in 3D or AR. You wouldn’t have to tap the screen - you could just say “pause”.
We’re going to have to look at how we integrate these new technologies. How do you integrate AI and robotics into beauty? How do you not lose the connection of touching the skin, especially with makeup and hair color? How do you improve the consumer experience?
The big brands will continue looking to the smaller ones. Indie brands selling their vision and their story are becoming a very popular route to connecting with the younger, more socially conscious consumer. The industry is going to have to keep evolving to keep up with that.