Event Review: Health & Beauty America: Cosmetic Convergence

Thousands of cosmetics executives converged upon New York City’s JacobK.JavitsConvention Center during the last week of September. Over 575 companies from all over the world hawked their wares to manufacturer and marketer representatives intent on seeing the latest offerings by top equipment, supply, ingredient, and private label providers. Advertised as “200,000 square feet of Beauty Product Development”, the event promised to be THE must-attend cosmetic show in North America, and as usual, did not disappoint. The buzz, however, was not as present on the show floor so much as it permeated the adjoining conference areas where dozens of leading personal care specialists gave presentations, providing hundreds of attendees with a plethora of product development and strategic marketing expertise.

HBA’s conference program packed a powerful punch with 19 marketing seminars, four packaging sessions, 10 product development seminars, three product display modules, as well as special content provided by the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association. The presence of nine product development and marketing master classes, in-depth sessions on very specific topics such as perfumery and self-dispensing packaging, rounded out the conference plenary. Perhaps the most interesting development in the cosmetics industry this year was illustrated in the form of three sessions focusing on nutritional supplements (or “nutraceuticals”), which were carefully programmed to address beauty from the inside/out.

Organized by Nutraceuticals World Magazine and sponsored by DSM, a major player in dietary supplements, “Inside Beauty” identified a rapidly growing cross-over market with a day long, in-depth analysis. Nutritional supplement companies are clamoring to exploit the growth opportunities in the faster-growing personal care market in an attempt to mitigate the effects of their mature market, while personal care companies are looking for ways to work with supplement companies to penetrate a marketplace seemingly ripe with opportunity.

This is an interesting development, and a reminder that product developers and marketers should have learned many lessons by examining the 1990’s convergence between food/beverage and nutritional supplements segments, which culminated in the still lucrative functional and fortified foods market. This relatively recent natural products cross-over demonstrated to many that proper product positioning, merchandising, and need-driven product development, especially in the introductory phase of a segment’s life cycle, can make or break the most well-intentioned efforts.

Natural Products Industry experts Loren Israelson, Anthony Almada, and yours truly (Darrin Duber-Smith) led panels of executives who are actively engaged in this market place. Market researchers the Hartman Group and DataMonitor provided quantitative insight, Attorney Scott Bass gave of his legal expertise, while product developers Terry Lemerond (founder of Enzymatic Therapies and president of his latest branded company Europharma) and Dr. Barry Sears (author of the Zone Diet and president of Zone Labs) rounded out the plenary with updates on the inroads they are making in the marketplace.

There is little doubt that HBA continues to set the benchmark for quality, quantity and innovation in covering the personal care market, but it was clear to this writer that more representation with regard to mainstream and natural ingredient suppliers would enhance the show’s value even further. In addition, more “natural products industry” oriented content would provide value by informing attendees of this rapidly growing segment’s relevance, as it now represents almost 15% of all health and beauty sales. Overall, the educational sessions really do steal the show, so to speak, and it is expected that they will continue to do so for many years to come. Kudos to HBA!

Darrin C. Duber-Smith, MS, MBA, is president of Green Marketing, a Colorado-based strategic planning firm offering marketing planning, marketing plan implementation, and other consulting services to natural products companies in all stages of growth. He has 15 years of specialized expertise in the natural products industry and is also assistant professor of marketing at the Metropolitan State College School of Business in Denver, CO, as well as executive director of the International Association of Natural Product Producers. He can be reached at [email protected].

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