For Beiersdorf, on the other hand, a spokesman said: “There’s been no visible change in our Asian business. First there’s sell-in, then sell-out, [so] if there was to be an effect, it would be felt a bit later. But luckily, SARS didn’t materialize into a huge problem, as feared.” Yet, with so many unexpected events in the recent past and today’s instability, numerous executives say it’s impossible to make firm predictions. “I don’t make any forecasts at this stage,” said Remy Gomez, president of Beauté Prestige International. “I think the name of the game is unpredictability.”
Meanwhile, another French beauty executive said he doesn’t expect the country’s fine fragrance market, which is practically flat in value terms and down by 2 to 3 percent in units, to change in the near term.
However, other segments continue to show promise. Among them:
- Prestige beauty products in the low-to-mid price range, according to Paolo Bevegni, director of Micys Co.’s international division.
- Seasonal makeup offerings, said Angela Creasy, perfumery buyer at Liberty department store in the U.K. “Women now are really into updating their looks,” she explained.
- The tween and teen markets, according to Intercos’ Ferrari. “We have been asked to develop some simple products: mascara, glitter, lip glosses — mostly for the Asian market,” he explained. “If tweens learn to use lip gloss at age eight, they will continue using color through their teens and [onward].”
- Men’s and antiage skin care, according to Roberto Venini, director of Guaber Group.
Such approaches to product teamed with creativity may be the recipe required to boost the beauty industry. But Gabriele Pungerscheg, president of European Designer Fragrances at Unilever Cosmetics International, says the market really needs to be cleansed of irrelevant products and attract customers in unexpected ways.