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CRISIS-PROOF ITALIAN COSMETICS INDUSTRY FOCUSES ON SPECIALISATION TO BOOST EXPORTS
Positive retail trends combined with targeted governance and a high propensity for research and specialisation are the two pillars on which the Italian cosmetics industry has based their international growth strategy in recent years – proving to be a winning formula on international markets.
The industry’s success has also managed to take advantage of what initially appeared to be a contradiction: according to a recent survey conducted by Unipro, the Italian cosmetics industry association, consumers in global markets don’t reduce their budget for body care products even during a crisis. Given that the sector is considered to produce luxury goods, the solidity of retail figures was a real revelation for analysts, as well as an important opportunity for growth.
The anti-cyclical nature of demand in the cosmetics sector is confirmed by 2010 sales figures. Exports rose by 8 percent in comparison with 2009, while the value of exports is currently over 2,200 million euros with a trade surplus of 700 million euros. “Preliminary figures published by ISTAT (the Italian statistics bureau) show that exports of Italian cosmetics have recovered in Europe and the US, with particular success in areas of South East Asia, with Hong Kong in the lead”, explains Unipro Director Maurizio Crippa.
On international markets, herbal, pharmaceutical and beauty products all showed improved results in Holland and the Netherlands with +4.6% at the beginning of 2010, Hong Kong (+0.3%), Australia (+12.5%) and Slovakia (+83.9%). However, final turnover fell in these outlet markets. In fact, potential in emerging markets is linked to growth levels, leaving considerable margin for development in the future. The figures confirm that Europe remains the “stronghold” for Italian cosmetics exports. Despite their historical presence in Europe, national manufacturers do not exclude that their positioning could change in favour of extra-continental markets including Asia, which produced turnover of 320 million euros, and America with 225 million euros according to the latest figures.
While on one hand marketing studies show rigid consumer figures, on the other hand a medium band of highly “demanding” consumers is emerging. This finding was seen as an invitation to specialisation by Italian manufacturers. The business-strategies chosen have therefore focused on “personalising” products destined increasingly for the international sales network. It is precisely this propensity for quality which Unipro leaders define as “an alliance with consumers”, supported by a solid publicity strategy.
Mr Crippa adds that “the sector association has long supported the process of internationalisation in the Italian cosmetics system, through a carefully designed plan which is updated each year in collaboration with cosmetics firms. Thanks to the partnership with the Italian Trade Commission, the Ministry of Economic Development, Promos, Assocamerestero, the Lombardy Region and So.Ge.Cos. for international Cosmoprof trade fairs, in 2011 the association and identified a series of ad hoc initiatives (group participations and business missions) in emerging or particularly dynamic markets such as Argentina, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and Eastern Europe”.
So many players with a single mission: to conquer ever more international markets and support a crisis-proof sector.