Makeup Suppliers Strategize for Change
an abstract from the article by SANDRA SALIBIAN AND JENNIFER WEIL
WWD Daily Edition, March 27th 2019
BOLOGNA, Italy — It’s testing times for makeup suppliers. In the recent past, they have seen the pace of their category’s sales slow, following years of meteoric rise, and the skin-care segment becoming far and away the fastest-growing beauty category. “Last year we went through an unexpected change,” said Dario Ferrari, founder and president of Intercos, the world’s largest color-cosmetics maker, whose top line suffered in 2018. “We try to understand why.”
He said for makeup suppliers “the United States is really messy and confusing,” due partially to the ongoing difficulties at department stores and Sephora beginning to suffer. “Drugstores don’t really have a precise strategy,” he continued, adding that even in California, where there had been a boom in indie color-cosmetics brands, there’s a slowdown.
“The consumers change,” he said. “Gen Z, they have a completely different attitude, and I think this is really going to change the world. So we have to create new tools, systems, ways of understanding what is going to happen, and we are really working on that.”
The company plans to implement methods of gathering big data differently. It will cull information from customers, for instance. “They all like to tell us what they dream of, what’s going to be the future, what they sell, what they don’t sell,” he said.
What’s gleaned from social media can also be poured into an algorithm. “We’re going to do a system, which is
going to really help us understand what [consumers are] thinking,” he said. “We used to be an authority in color,
then we decided that’s not our job anymore. But it’s wrong,” said Ferrari.
“We want to become [that once again]. We want to understand what are going to be the changes. We are going to have a billion new consumers in the next five, six, seven years.”
In tandem, Ferrari believes makeup will need to be reinterpreted. “Look at lipstick.
It has been the same for 200 years,” he said, comparing it to the phone, which has made major leaps in advancement in the same time frame.
“When you consider, roughly, the number-one company in cosmetics is L’Oréal, which does 26 billion [euros], take Samsung. They invest 25 billion in research and innovation,” he said.
The relatively small cosmetics industry, he believes, will have to borrow technology from other businesses.
Distribution is also in the executive’s scope. “Between Europe, the United States and Asia, there are three different stories,”
he said, adding: “Today we cannot run everything out of Italy. We have a strong team in Asia, in the U.S., and that includes marketing, R&D and local needs.”
Intercos has invested in South Korea, where the company is developing products for Asia — China, mainly — but
the Korean products are also selling around the world, with big success, for
instance, in California.
Intercos was presenting future-facing trends, including more than 500 products, at its headquarters in Agrate Brianza, Italy.
The display was titled Studio 47, referring to the company’s 47 years in existence.
It was comprised of seven rooms, each themed and catering to a category and particular regions. “Cult,” for instance,
was about feeling special and idolized, with a focus on lipsticks and mascaras. It
was centered on what could be tomorrow’s cult classic, and was Europe- and U.S.-driven.
Other trends were:
• “La Divina,” with gold and glitz, channeled the feeling of being excessive and adorned. Its product focus was on
eyes and face, bringing back contouring, and a regional focus on the U.S., Europe and Middle East.
• “Fight Club,” with a nod to the U.S. and Korea, had to do with feeling guarded and in control, and largely offered skincare solutions.
• “Luminary” — think lit and glowing — concerned the way light hits skin, and subtle glow and glossy effects.
• “Clash” referred to feelings of being chaotic, happy and unique, with clashes coming from today’s collaboration
culture. This theme was skewed toward Asia and America.
• “5G” translated into products that can reshape and augment features, with a concentration on eyes and lips.
• “Voodoo Den” took a cue from modern-day witches, with the idea that potions, beauty rituals and ingredients can be incorporated into products for a more robust marketing story.
Intercos has committed to integrating sustainability processes and activities throughout its supply chain, explained Gianandrea Ferrari, the company’s strategic marketing account director, vice president for Europe and the Middle East.
He believes products that are sustainable are those that are good for you — in other words, clean — and that Intercos is putting that philosophy into practice.
The executive showed a cardboard makeup palette with aluminum trays that can be recycled, as an example. It’s due out in March, and the company plans to introduce new products following its sustainable principles every six months.
Overall, Intercos has 11 innovation centers, 15 factories and 6,000 employees, of which 900 are dedicated to innovation. “I think the future is all in our hands,” said Dario Ferrari. “The future is to understand better and before the others where the market is going.”
He explained: “We have done everything necessary to really win the battle.”