“The cosmetics industry thrives on the capacity to innovate,” said panel moderator Beertil Heerink, director general of the European cosmetics association Colipa.
Although each panelist defined innovation differently, the importance of considering the varied needs of a global population when creating products was unanimously agreed.
“In order to innovate, we need to redefine ‘what is beauty,’” said Elisabeth Azoulay, director of publishing house, Editions Babylone.
“Beauty used to mean Western culture, but if you continue to think this way you cannot think of innovation as you do not consider diversity,” she explained.
Patricia Pineau, director of research communication at L’Oreal Group echoed this point, saying: “One of the challenges within the industry is the diversity of the beauty population, as we are now addressing a wide population. We need to observe the consumer and come up with a product,” she said.
Observing the consumer
Eric Perrier, executive vice president of R&D at LVMH also highlighted the importance of observing customers, noting that individual populations use products in diverse ways and describing innovation as “a journey that meets consumers.”
“Some innovations may not be useful to consumers, so it is important to listen to their needs. By looking at the way consumers use cosmetics, we see that different populations apply products, such as lotions, differently,” he said.
Perrier added that products also need to cater for changing lifestyles, an important factor to consider during the innovation process.
“As we are seeing more and more of the population living in big cities, this modifies the way in which products are used. For example, consumers don’t want to carry lots of products in their bag,” he said.
Europe a leader in innovation
Although innovation in new formulations, active ingredients or testing methods is being seen across many regions, Europe was identified by Nica Lewis, head consultant at Mintel Beauty Innovations, as a leader in this area.
“The French market in particular is very good at innovating, as well as Italy, Spain and Britain,” she said.
Lewis also named Japan as a creativity centre, using the example of cosmetics giant Shiseido as a company that is intensely innovative in both the development of packaging and new products.