Premium Beauty News - What is your vision of the cosmetics market evolution?
Loïc Armand - I have an extremely optimistic vision of it. The cosmetics market is the only one to have gone through the crisis without batting an eyelid. We meet basic needs, while offering affordable products.
On the global level, our industry is driven by the rise in middle classes’ purchasing power: there is already a significant growth potential in Latin America, India, and South Asia. And in the future, we foresee a very strong growth in the demand for our products in Africa, which is definitely the new frontier for our industry. It is on this continent that future markets are developing.
As for Europe, the tendency is positive, despite cyclical changes. It remains the first global market by far. In 2016, the cosmetics industry’s growth apart from the UK was evaluated at 1.2%, even if the turmoil in the currency markets following the Brexit vote compelled us to reduce it to +0.8%.
Premium Beauty News - Talking about this, how will Brexit impact the European industry?
Loïc Armand - The European industry cannot remain indifferent to the questions that emerged about Europe’s future. But if Brexit is an important issue that will need to be dealt with, it is not a major challenge for us. The real problem would have been Frexit, if France had got out of the European Union or euro area. From this standpoint, the French election result has made us much more optimistic. The French have elected the most Europhilic executive power and Parliament the country has ever had.
The fact that Europe has recovered a dynamic economic growth should help meet citizens’ job expectations. In addition, the EU should make sure it provides satisfactory answers to security needs.
Premium Beauty News – Is the UK still about to free itself from part of the European regulations?
Loïc Armand - We will see what they actually decide to do. Right now, it is good form to criticize European regulations. Of course, they are not flawless, but we do think they are the most protective for consumers and the environment, and they still allow for companies to innovate.
Since the first European Directive regulated our business in 1976, our industry has exchanged a lot with the authorities on these issues. European cosmetics regulations have become a reference point for many countries.
As for us, we endeavour to support global convergence on their main principles: responsibility of the person that places products on the market, risk assessment, distinction between risk and hazard, etc. We have recently won several battles. That is how the Chinese government has taken over most of the principles of the best regulatory practices for their new regulations… It is the fruit of six years of exchanges and dialogue with local authorities. India is another example of this: recently, they were still one of the rare countries not to recognize the notion of inevitable traces of heavy metals. This anomaly was resolved by modifying the Indian Federal Law in December 2016, taking over the European regulations principles.
Premium Beauty News - And yet, recently, European consumer associations were still criticizing the presence of allergens and suspected endocrine disruptors in cosmetics available on the European market.
Loïc Armand - There is still a lot of misunderstanding as regards these issues. Consumer associations are not opponents, we need to exchange with them. But the difference between hazard and risk is still misunderstood. It is a real challenge for us.