The French cosmetics industry wants to be more competitive

Backed by a largely surplus trade balance, one might think that the cosmetics sector is less concerned with the burning question of reindustrialization. The figures published for the year 2021 show, in fact, a very strong rebound with record exports, positive balance of 12.9 billion euros, strong growth in the United States and China. However, behind these flattering data, pointed out Christophe Masson, the general manager of Cosmetic Valley an “ambivalent reality”in front of representatives of the sector, meeting on February 21, under the chairmanship of Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister Delegate of the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Recovery, in charge of Industry.

Declining market share

Despite the increase in turnover driven by exports, Christophe Masson emphasized that ” the market shares of the French cosmetics industry decreased, [que] its positions in Europe collapsed and [que] its Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese competitors are always more ambitious “.

While the French cosmetics industry retains strong assets – including a diverse and successful ecosystem of suppliers and research laboratories, and the prestige of “Made in France” – industry representatives believe that it is not enough in the long term in the face of extremes. global competition.

To maintain its competitive advantage, the French cosmetics industry must ” relies on the constant increase in science and technology of added value, calling on difficult sciences and meeting the structural challenges caused by ecological and digital changes “. In concrete terms, it includes many investments in four key success factors : ingredients, innovation, environment and consumer safety.

Winback strategy

Once the findings have been established, the members of the Committee of the Cosmetic Industry intend to define, in agreement with the public authorities, a recovery strategy that is intended to be a long-term one. Continuing the first meeting of the Committee, in the midst of a pandemic, then the “General States of Cosmetics” organized by the Cosmetic Valley with FEBEA, four lines of action detailed:

strengthen the competitiveness of French beauty companies,

- giving priority to innovation and research,

- consider the needs of the ecological transition,

- consolidating France’s positions internationally.

For the members of the Committee, strengthening the competitiveness of the sector is particularly concerning continued relocation efforts, either the ingredients or the packaging. The purpose is to secure and strengthen the purchases of France. Although 83% of the sector’s supplies are already Franco-European, a study by the company PWC, commissioned and presented by FEBEA, makes it possible to identify the areas of purchase where it can be ” develop targeted transfer strategies “.

The importance of this proximity of supplies for the stability and stability of the sector is illustrated in the analysis made by Dominique Garnier of Dior Parfums, and Thomas Riou of Verescence, of the concrete actions that follow the “Declaration of unity of cosmetic sector. with the glass sector” called by the State. In order to avoid bearing, on their own, in their cash flow, the weight of the stocks ordered and not sold due to the sudden economic slowdown linked to the pandemic, the glassmakers received in 2020/2021 ” clear support from buyers of some brands “.

Some actions for strengthen the luxury bottle sector, strategic for perfumes and cosmetics brands, discussed, such as support, public/private partnerships, for technological changes intended to limit GHG emissions from glassworks facilities , as well as support for research intended to ensure the quality of recycled glass. The Committee expresses the wish that electric ovens will gradually replace fossil fuel ovens and that the share of recycled glass in production will exceed 40%. This example leads other providers, such as plastic processorsto request an extension of the consultation for their benefit.

About building capacity for innovation and research, the CNRS, represented by Carole Chrétien, reaffirms its desire to establish and expand French research in relation to cosmetics and therefore calls on the public authorities to support it in its project to submit a dedicated program within the framework of the 4th Future investment program. Jean-Yves Berthon from Greentech also insisted on the need to maintain a dynamic interregional and inter-sector innovation.

In terms of ecological transition, the representatives of the General Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CGEDD) and the General Council for the Economy, Industry, Energy and Technology (CGEIET) which, at the request of the sector, were instructed. summer of the ministers of industry and ecological transition, will publish their specific recommendations in the coming weeks.

Finally, in order to consolidate the positions of France internationally, the Minister did not only promote and defend, in Brussels, the positions of the French cosmetic industry during the discussions related to the new regulations of European REACH and Cosmetics (especially for the situation of essential oils) , but also to examine situations of possible French overregulation. The participants also called on the Minister to develop a real strategy of international influence.

The third meeting of the Committee shall be held after the election. Whatever its result, Cosmetic Valley and FEBEA seem in any case determined to continue this tool for dialogue with public authorities that – perhaps – will be possible to pilot a real industrial policy.

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