BRUSSELS – More than 250 guests streamed into Brussels’ stately Art and History Museum to help kick off the Value of Beauty Alliance.
Among attendees there on Wednesday evening were members of the European Parliament and European Commission — the hearts and minds the new alliance especially aims to touch as the alliance was formed to underline the importance of Europe’s beauty value chain.
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At the event were beauty executives and journalists, who listened to keynote speeches by Nicolas Hieronimus, chief executive officer of L’Oréal, and Vincent Warnery, CEO of Beiersdorf, as well as people from the EU governing bodies.
The alliance is the brainchild of Hieronimus and Warnery, and includes four other founding corporate members — Givaudan, IFF, Kiko Milan and Ancorotti Cosmetics — whose top executives were in attendance to help present a report titled “What Is the Value of Beauty.”
That is meant to crystalize the role the beauty value chain holds for the European Union’s economy and innovation; society and culture, and health and well-being.
In his talk, Hieronimus called the alliance “a very important milestone for the European beauty and personal care industry.”
“In an increasingly complex and uncertain world, the beauty and personal care industry is a very important contributor and channel of growth for economies across the EU, with a value chain that is firmly rooted in Europe,” he said. “We are a powerhouse of science and innovation, a proud exporter of European cultural heritage and a trailblazer in terms of sustainability.
“And, of course, it’s also an industry that brings well-being, happiness and self-confidence to countless millions of people around the world but, of course, also in Europe,” continued Hieronimus. “However, despite this, our industry is often misunderstood and underestimated — perceived as futile and superficial. I’ve heard that many times. As a result, we are sometimes faced with increased challenges and complexities, including when it comes to regulations.
“So the Value of Beauty Alliance aims to shift this narrative,” he said. “Our objective is to reveal the beauty of our industry across our entire value chain, celebrate the positive impact of beauty and personal care, and the unveiling of the ‘Value of Beauty’ report.”
Hieronimus said: “Tonight marks the beginning of this journey. Our industry has a very sophisticated value chain, including farmers and research scientists, manufacturing, packaging suppliers and distribution.”
He explained the alliance’s founding members represent different facets of the beauty sector.
“I would like to welcome all members of our extensive value chain, industry and associations to join hands with this Value of Beauty Alliance,” the executive said. “Together, we will amplify our voices and demonstrate the socio-economic significance of our industry in Europe.”
The beauty and personal care industry is a major contributor to European economic value and an important engine of growth, Hieronimus continued. The EU beauty market was worth 74 billion euros in 2022, equal to generating 200 million euros a day.
“This reflects the high regard that EU consumers have for beauty, with 80 percent considering that it is very important to their lives,” he said.
Europe is a flagship market for and a major exporter of “high-quality and highly desirable goods around the globe,” continued Hieronimus. “When we go to China, to the USA, the ‘made in Europe,’ ‘made in France,’ ‘made in Italy’ is really making a huge difference in terms of sales.”
Sales-wise, the EU beauty market ranks second, behind the U.S. and ahead of China, despite only having one-third of its population.
EU beauty exports generated almost 24 billion euros in 2022. “France is the world’s leading exporter of beauty and personal care products,” said Hieronimus.
In 2023, the sector was the third-largest contributor to the country’s positive foreign trade balance, behind aeronautics and wines and spirits.
It is estimated beauty and personal care together bring at least 29 billion euros in added value to the European economy yearly.
“The sector also supports the livelihood of millions of Europeans, either self-employed or working in companies as diverse as SMEs or big multinational corporations, such as L’Oréal,” explained Hieronimus. “In fact, across the EU, the sector employed over 3 million people in 2022. So the beauty and personal care industry is [a cornerstone] of the European economy, a firm supporter and beneficiary of a single market, and it supports millions of European citizens.”
He described how the sector is a cradle of scientific advancements. “Not only can innovation offer consumers a broad range of products, increase product performance and improve the environmental footprint of our industry, it can also help ensure that the EU remains at the forefront of competitiveness by combining economic prosperity with scientific ingenuity,” said Hieronimus. “In addition to driving business results, all companies now have a responsibility to consider their impact on society and the environment.”
He said the beauty industry has long been committed to protecting the planet and its people, working on sustainable solutions across its value chain.
Hieronimus pointed out the efforts have been recognized, and in 2022, five beauty companies were among the 13 receiving a triple-A rating from the CPD, out of 15,000 contenders.
“We’re also conscious that we have a responsibility for human rights across our diverse ecosystem, including working with suppliers that promote ethical and responsible practices and advocate fair working conditions,” said Hieronimus.
“The beauty and personal care industry is embedded into the everyday lives of our consumers like almost no other industry,” continued Warnery.
He cited a survey saying the average European consumer uses more than seven beauty and personal care products daily, and nearly 13 different products on a weekly basis.
Today almost 2 billion people globally experience skin conditions such as acne, eczema and skin cancer, and the incidence of these continues to increase. In Europe, up to 90 percent of the population claims to have some degree of skin sensitivity.
The beauty and personal care industry plays a vital role in helping alleviate such conditions, which can affect sufferers’ emotional well-being, according to Warnery.
Sunscreen, for instance, helps fight against melanoma. Cases of that are rising and impacts Europe’s health care system, which in 2020 had to pay an estimated 2.7 billion euros in treatment costs alone.
Beauty and personal care products not only play a part in physical health, but also emotional well-being.
“The beauty industry also plays the role in connecting European citizens to their shared cultural heritage,” said Warnery, citing the example of fine fragrances. “The beauty and personal care industry helps to export the various skills of European know-how, culture and heritage across the world.”
He said the industry is also helping to foster a more diverse and inclusive society.
“The beauty and personal care industry is a dynamic, ever-evolving sector fueled by the relentless pursuit of innovation. With a strong focus on sustainability this vast and diverse ecosystem stretches across Europe,” said Warnery.
He extended the alliance’s invitation to new companies and associations working in the value chain. “This is an open platform,” said Warnery.
Beginning next week, the alliance will start its positioning campaign and is to give updates regularly on its actions and progress throughout the year.
“Symbolically, it is important to be here in Brussels today, because this alliance is part of the solution to get even better synergies between major actors, including European decision-makers,” said Warnery. “The future looks bright for our industry. The key categories of fragrances, hair care, skin care and makeup are all projected to grow annually around 4 to 6 percent, adding billions to the European economy.
“With the support of all stakeholders, we need to make sure we do not fall behind, but continue to enhance our competitiveness also on the global level, so that we can leverage the full potential of our industry,” he said.
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