Premium Beauty News asked several manufacturers to give their opinion about the business activity during the first semester of 2008 and their views regarding the next six months. And their answers tend to converge.
Market evolution: convergent views
“Our business unit is progressing this year, compared to 2007, says Hervé Bichon, Rexam Dispensing Systems, but clearly, its final performance will be impacted by the economic situation in the US and how it will evolve over the next months. We carry on investing in new assembly lines for our five key markets (care pumps, perfume and foam, Cosmetic Closures, and samples). As its was announced last year, our new manufacturing unit located in Lacrost in Burgondy (France), will start its production during the last months of 2008. This unit is specialised in pumps for skincare products and airless systems.”
Patrick Bousquel and Christophe Staelen, respectively Product Marketing & Innovation Manager and Sales & Marketing Director, both of them atValois Beauty & Home, have chosen to be careful. “As far as sales are concerned, after two prosperous years, 2008 looks more difficult. On the one hand, customers have managed their inventory very tightly after their sales started to decline in the United States and Western Europe, and on the other hand, some of them have postponed or cancelled new launches,” they explain. “It’s very difficult to make forecasts, as we are in a very uncertain macro-economic context. But whatever the evolution will be, we expect to progress in 2009, as our customers will have to renew their inventory and launch new products in order to differentiate themselves”.
Same opinion at Pfeiffer’s: “After a period of steady growth over the last few years, as far as sales are concerned, explains Yannick Brunat, Vice President Marketing Sales Beauty Division, 2008 will be a tough and challenging year. Our customers have been forced to keep a close eye on the short-term of the business by both managing their inventory very tightly and mitigating the risks of launching new products in a gloomy environment, and that surely had an impact on us. Predicting how the business will behave in the very coming months, when critical macro-economical factors do concern every individual, our customers being no exception, and people are reluctant to take risks, is a very delicate art. However, as in our market differentiation is a key and can only be achieved through new innovative products, we do look forward for 2009 to bringing an improved situation throughout the year and eventually growth”.
According to Gérard Perrin, of MeadWestvaco Calmar, “as the economy is becoming a global issue, cost efficiency will be top of mind among everyone in every industry.”
Innovation as a solution
For most of the operators on the market, the array of solutions is centred on one main concern: innovation.
According to Hervé Bichon, Rexam: “Innovation is a constitutive part of Rexam Dispensing Systems’ strategy. We have developed an innovation program for each market. The new pump XD11 was successfully launched at the beginning of the year. We have also started the production of our latest product, for the skin care segment, the neutral pump Néa. Eventually, Ezi foamer, a pump allowing to dispense foam continuously, was created this year.”
“Innovation, in order to create products that consumers and brands are waiting for, has always been Valois’ main asset,” Patrick Bousquel and Christophe Staelen, Valois Beauty Home, say. “For more than 15 years, it has been the baseline of our logos: ‘diffuseur d’innovation’. Pumps are complex products, combining functionality (spray or delivery), usage (the pleasure to press) and aesthetics (adaptation to beautifully designed products). We are linking these basics to the market’s trends (luxury revival, sustainable development, quest for simplicity and pleasure that we can see on every item now) and we translate everything in a product. But that’s not enough, in order differentiate themselves from one another, new perfumes and cosmetics now have a 100% tailor made packaging expressing the essence of the brand. Valois’ renown expertise and innovation capacity also allows us to produce an increasing number of unique packaging, “upon desire” and perfectly identified with a brand: from the prototype to global deliveries of the finished product, as we did with the latest Guerlain Homme for instance. Men and women selective brands now have very strong expectations regarding the uniqueness and sensoriality of their product (beautiful object, touch, view, etc.) and Valois can address these needs.”
Innovation is also at the core of Pfeiffer’s strategy: “At Pfeiffer we have been successfully innovating dispensing systems for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics markets for over 60 years,” Yannick Brunat explains. “Innovation means developing intelligent dispensing solutions, which respond to ever-challenging formulations needs. Our latest cartridge ‘alpha-Technology’ features a total metal-free route for an absolute protection of the product integrity. Our dispensing system ‘Irresistible’ dispenses safely preservative-free and low preservative substances. Innovation means to offer design artworks in order to contribute to a large freedom of action for our customers. Innovation means to go down the ‘environmental’ route balancing the high-end markets need with the sustainability needs. Innovation means commitment to give pleasure through new gestures or technologies. Innovation means to be in the ultimate proximity of all the members of our community, customers and end consumers, designers, marketers, formulators and suppliers. We are not talking about beautification but about the core of our business.”
As per Gérard Perrin, MeadWestvaco Calmar, things are clear: “Packaging is a critical component of our customer’s marketing mix and innovation is a key to delivering value-added propositions to the market.”
And what’s left for the environment?
It’s not so easy for manufacturers of sophisticated systems, made of numerous small pieces assembled together, to adapt their processes and products to the new environmental constraints.
“We have initiated an eco-design scheme,” Patrick Bousquel et Christophe Staelen say, “and our company has always been eco-friendly (preventing itself from using PVC for instance, etc.). Regarding the product side, we are currently analysing all the implications of sustainable development requirements. A first and easy step forward, would be to use our large range of screwing perfumery pumps, allowing to dispose the glass bottle and the pump separately.”
“At Rexam, Hervé Bichon explains, we’re mainly working at optimizing the new pumps at the time of conception (components reduction, quantity of material needed, weight reduction, and then recyclability).”
“This is an undisputed fact that environmental considerations have become a real part of the marketing mix, Yannick Brunat states, and are not just something that is trendy to consider. Nobody is spared; every company -from mass market to Premium- is concerned by an environmental-friendly Management. Nevertheless the topic is complex and the impact is huge. There are so many different ways to handle it. We are first in a period of gathering information to make the right decisions. But as a matter of fact, we can not deny our German roots: We have not waited for legislation or market pressures to get started in terms of managing sources and materials. For decades we have been working with the feeling it was our responsibility to respect the environment. Presently we comply with the statutory requirements, even being below the requirements (i.e. regarding heavy metals, eliminating dangerous substances, water pollution or waste management). Today we do strive to develop dispensing systems, constantly optimizing our material consumption and transport costs as much as we technically can and meeting the highest standard of quality”.
Then, Gérard Perrin, for MeadWestvaco Calmar, insists on the fact that “ Sustainability is part of MeadWestvaco’s DNA. We continually I and enhance processes and products with sustainability in mind.”
Little tiny pumps
Size reduction is the other main trend of the pumps market… Manufacturers compete hard to be the one launching the smallest pump of the season… less visible, but with the same qualities of a bigger one!
“Indeed, that’s a recurrent question”, says Hervé Bichon. “‘Rexam’s latest creation, the XD11, guarantees a comfortable use and an efficient spray combined with optimised miniaturisation and visibility. Nevertheless, it is not impossible that further technologies offer alternatives to today’s pumps.”
According to the Valois’ team: “Designers obviously appreciate when technology gives place to style. Integrating a perfumery pump into a packaging concept, fitting with a prototype or developing an inspired and unique glass bottle, often require very small pumps inside and outside the bottle! As far as they remain easy to use, we may not see the end of this trend.”
“During the last years, the fragrance pump size has tremendously shrunken to reach more or less its minimalist size”, says Yannick Brunat, Pfeiffer. “The actual market trend (think of the ever-aging population) is rather looking for an optimisation of the functionality, to make the dispensing system softer or better performing. At that point, we have to differentiate between fragrance and cosmetics needs. For cosmetics purposes, we feel we need to focus on key factors such as softness, high dosage volumes and design codes (anchoring a strong identity for skin care brands). Pfeiffer designs such as Metropolitan or Cremosa were created to serve that purpose.”