On 26 and 27 September 2017, the 10th Natural Cosmetics Conference is taking place in Berlin. The future-oriented approach of the natural cosmetics industry will be focused on at this significant edition of the event, and attendees can look forward to high-class speakers from various countries and coverage of red-hot topics.
We spoke to Elfriede Dambacher, the programme director and owner of consultancy firm naturkosmetik konzepte, and Wolf Lüdge, the owner and managing director of publisher naturkosmetik verlag lüdge, about how the conference – and the industry – began and how they are likely to develop in the future. In cooperation with NürnbergMesse, the organizer of VIVANESS, the International Trade Fair for Natural and Organic Personal Care, naturkosmetik verlag lüdge organizes the annual Natural Cosmetics Conference in Berlin.
Ms Dambacher, looking back, what characterizes the first Natural Cosmetics Conference, which was still being held in Nuremberg back then?
Elfriede Dambacher (ED): There was a special atmosphere and general spirit of optimism and excitement at being able to engage in discussion with brand and natural cosmetics experts from around the world. The feedback was already very positive even back then, because we were providing a place at which debates could occur and ideas could be exchanged away from everyday business activities.
Where did the market stand back then?
ED: 10 years ago, the market was half the size it is today and was not being focused on by the entire cosmetics industry. The market was still confined to those of us only interested in natural cosmetics.
The conference then moved to Berlin and was accompanied by a market that is becoming more dynamic and fast-moving all the time. How would you describe and classify the progress of the conference and the industry over the last decade?
ED: The move was the key to gaining widespread acceptance among all the market players who were interested in this sector. The ambience was right, the event was easier for guests coming from abroad to get to and were able to offer an additional benefit in combination with the trend tour in particular.
Mr Lüdge, you became the managing director of naturkosmetik verlag in January 2017. What was your impression of the conference and the developments in the industry at that time?
Wolf Lüdge (WL): I have always been a fan of the Natural Cosmetics Conference. Elfriede Dambacher and I have known each other for a good
10 years. Also, I attended the conference in Berlin a number of times in my previous roles, and always networked and came away with new market development ideas.
The natural cosmetics industry has developed magnificently over the last decade. The growth rates have been double-digit nearly every year, and the market share of certified natural and near-natural cosmetics is currently approximately 16 %. I think what brands, producers and retailers have been able to achieve here is truly excellent.
And how is the Natural Cosmetics Conference likely to develop in the future?
WL: Like the industry as a whole, we will move with the times, but still remain true to ourselves. As it has until now, the conference team would like to continue providing inspiration and would like the event to remain an opportunity to network and exchange ideas. I am happy and proud that I have the opportunity to organize and shape the Natural Cosmetics Conference over the next few years.
Ms Dambacher, as the conference’s programme director, can you tell us what the highlights of this year’s programme are?
ED: It is difficult to single out any highlights. Let me put it this way: We are covering all the topics that are uppermost in the minds of market players at the moment. Digitalisation, changes in trade and brand development in a highly competitive international market.
You will be covering extremely current topics at the conference and presenting industry developments. Are you able to give us an idea of what these might be now?
ED: In a nutshell, the natural cosmetics market remains an exciting market that faces challenges, especially the challenge of standing up to greenwashing and near-natural cosmetics.
What are the most important trends?
ED: There is a general worldwide trend that encompasses the whole of the cosmetics industry: More and more consumers are wanting milder and more natural cosmetic products. Ethical issues are playing a bigger role in natural cosmetics in general than they did years ago, which is down to the market’s younger consumers. These consumers assume that only raw materials of the best natural quality are used anyway, but real and evident sustainability is important to them as well now. For this reason, products made using as little water as possible or even no water at all have become a trend, as have convenient, personalized products. Mass-produced goods are passé.
What is the current state of the industry? Are there any initial figures available yet that offer an insight into this?
ED: Natural cosmetics remains a dynamic growth market. We are expecting solid growth at a rate of over 5 % again this year. The industry is in transition. Marketing and sales strategies that have been effective in the past have to be tailored to consumers and markets much more specifically these days. In addition, strong brands and brand concepts are needed to stand up to the greenwashing, which is becoming more widespread. This is a big challenge for an industry dominated by medium-sized enterprises.
Ms Dambacher and Mr Lüdge, to finish, can you tell us what you think the future will look like? What direction is the industry developing in?
WL: The natural cosmetics market has developed at a terrific speed over the last decade. As a result of that, increasing numbers of conventional providers are wanting a piece of the cake too, however. New companies have entered the market and more will do in the future. This means retailers and manufacturers are having to meet higher requirements. The customer journey is changing too, due to the many young people who are discovering natural cosmetics. Lots of brands and retail concepts are having to be designed and set up differently in order to benefit from the progress of the natural cosmetics market. The changes that have come about in the organic food sector because of conventional food retailers entering the market are changes that will be appearing in the natural cosmetics industry as well in the next few years, just in a modified form. In a word, the industry is booming. It is in transition and experiencing some radical changes. And I still see plenty of positive signs for the market.
With that in mind, what would you like to happen in the future?
WL: The changes in the market environment mean market players have to be able to adapt. This adaptability, combined with strategic clarity and a stable set of values within companies, is my greatest wish.
ED: Natural cosmetics is a strong demand market. I would like retailers to pick up on this more effectively and develop concepts of their own, in order to fulfil today’s expectations of enjoyable and enthusiastic shopping in stores.
Thank you very much for the interview!