Survey / Beauty

5 industry insiders share the hot topics and coming macro trends from Cosmoprof 2023

More than 250,000 people went to Bologna in Italy for the world’s leading beauty trade fair. We reached out to 5 of them afterwards to find out what caught their attention — and why the Nordic beauty industry should come together.

29 Mar 2023

Kicki Norman is the editor-in-chief of Swedish cosmetics magazine Daisy Beauty and trade magazine Daisy Beauty Professional.

— In Sweden, I am often invited to speak about trends and there is no better place than global events to scan what’s going on in the beauty industry. We saw more tech and less sustainability than last year. It’s not that sustainability isn’t important, it’s just not a novelty anymore. Many brands talk about circular economy now.

David Gorgeous is a fragrance expert who’s now the business development and training manager for N.C.P. Focused on layering, all its fragrances can be used as a stand-alone product but also together with another fragrance for a new experience.

— We exhibited at Cosmoprof for several reasons and mainly exposure. It’s one of the largest international trade shows for the beauty industry, attracting a wide range of attendees, from retailers and distributors to industry professionals and media, all over the world.

Margareta Grääs works with social media full time, having YouTube as her main channel, and went to Cosmoprof for the first time.

— I couldn’t believe how big it is… When we had been walking for hours and hours and we still hadn’t even reached a small percentage. But such a colourful, mixed place for everything beauty.

Margareta Grääs.

”Sustainable packaging, like recycled or upcycled materials, is the biggest trend and you see it everywhere”

Johanna Rönkkö is the founder, managing director, and head of the brands of leading distribution and brand management company Nordic Beauty Inc., both exhibiting at Cosmoprof and actively scanning new brands for its portfolio with her ”buyer shoes” on.

— You could feel the excitement for face-to-face meetups. Lots of people, and exactly the right people. I was impressed by how many, also key people from overseas, were there. We are managing many of our brands European-wide and had also a little sneak preview of something super exciting, our new brand which will be launched shortly. Cosmoprof is absolutely the best event to meet with buyers across the world, and have brands and founders there to present their products to existing and potential customers. The fair increases the brand’s exposure and helps to reach new markets. Yet the most important thing I feel is networking, meeting up with partners and customers face-to-face, and creating relationships to last.

Mats Johansson is the founder and CEO of skincare brand L:a Bruket.

I have been attending the Cosmoprof fair previously at other locations but this was the first time in Bologna. I took the opportunity to scan the market for news on sustainability in packaging and in general to understand where the industry is when it comes to change of direction.

Mats Johansson.

”Future brands need a solid platform of values to lean on”

What trends, macro trends, and other exciting stuff from exhibitors stood out?

I can sense a change of direction in general where larger brands are struggling to navigate the needed changes they need to make in their internal infrastructure to answer to the fast-changing preferences and demands from customers, says Johansson. These customers are more informed than ever and reject smart marketing concepts in favour of transparent, honest, and sustainable brands that have a second layer to their ambitions as brands apart from products. With that perspective, I can also see that what I call ’gadget-driven’ concepts will have increasingly difficult reaching out and if they do, have more difficulties staying on the market. Future brands need a solid platform of values to lean on to earn loyalty from their audience.

— There were a lot of low carbon and PCR materials all over Cosmoprof, not only in the brands section but also at Cosmopack, Margareta Grääs noted. Sustainable packaging, like recycled or upcycled materials, is the biggest trend and you see it everywhere. There are various opinions on what is the most sustainable way but the subject has to be the biggest trend you see all over the fair. My personal favourites were to see a lot of colours and a lot of fun, innovative packaging but also a lot of focus on ’newer’ part of beauty: tech and multifunctional products.

Kicki Norman agrees that beautytech was big, pointing out one big unveiling in Bologna.

— We saw German beautytech brand Geske launching 67 products at the same time — in June this year — and another 200 in the pipeline. The whole marketing strategy is bragging about the investment — ’most expensive skincare investment ever’ and such — and they also had the biggest space at Cosmoprof. One of the major trends is still sustainability, such as water-less cosmetics, refill systems, and sidestreams. We have AI and apps everywhere! And South Korean brand Franz showed microcurrent sheet masks. One interesting macro trend was cosmetics for menopausal women, such as UK-based skincare brand Let’s be frank. I mentioned a few trends to our social media followers and menopausal skincare is apparently of great interest. Another new idea is ’beegan’, a term coined by beeswax-based brand Beesline. Its skincare is vegan except for ethically sourced beeswax, which totally makes sense since biodiversity is a hot topic.

Johanna Rönkkö.

”Consumers are more eager to understand the proof points of all the claims given in cosmetics”

Johanna Rönkkö has one certain wish for the coming editions of Cosmoprof.

— We, here in the Nordics, should join our forces and get a bigger ’N-beauty’ area there. We would be the coolest and most wanted area for sure! At the fair, I noticed several major trends; Colour, colour, colour in everywhere from makeup to hair, age and gender inclusivity were hot topics, and personalization as well as beauty-tech are hyped across the board. Also, healthy skin, balancing the microbiome of the skin and strengthening the skin barrier, are clearly extremely interesting at the moment. Sustainability has become more of a must-have and taken for granted than a trend, yet consumers are more eager to understand the proof points of all the claims given in cosmetics.

David Gorgeous.

”Fragrances are increasingly being marketed as tools for wellness and self-care”

David Gorgeous, what’s the big thing in fragrance for 2023 and onwards?

— Wellness! Fragrances are increasingly being marketed as tools for wellness and self-care, such as promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and enhancing mood. When it comes to digitalization, we’re very interested in finding ways to enhance the customer experience by embracing digital technology. For example, using virtual reality and augmented reality to help consumers experience fragrances before they buy and using data analytics to create personalized fragrance layering combinations.

— I would say that layering is still, and will continue to be, the big thing, Margareta Grääs adds — most perfume brands have a complete layering progress with multiple scents. We saw a lot of ’purer’ scents with just one note, such as vanilla, strawberry, or musk, or two — something most mainstream brands haven’t done since the start of 2000. Perfect for picking your own personal and perfect scent every time!

Kicki Norman.

”I saw no celebrity brands at Cosmoprof”

Kicki Norman, for beauty, what’s the big thing in 2023 and onwards?

— Globally, beautytech. In Sweden, my home market, it’s makeup. What also struck me was that I saw no celebrity brands at Cosmoprof, even though many Hollywood royalties have launched their own cosmetics brands since the pandemic hit. Is it because they don’t want to or need to be part of the beauty industry? Is it because they sell DTC so no distributors are necessary? Is it because they are already failing? I am curious.

— I feel that biotech is the obvious next step for natural skincare, Mats Johansson adds. And, for us, with our newest product development, we can clearly see the contribution it can make. One thing that will be important for the industry is to explain biotech since it represents such broad perspectives, from fermentation to GMO, and help the consumer to navigate these waters to understand how they should relate to all attempts to use it as a commercial argument that we can expect in the future.

— After boring covid years, is it then fashion or beauty — I feel people want more colour, and more fun in our lives. That is the biggest trend for this year, says Johanna Rönkkö.

Margareta Grääs and Mats Johansson were also part of two separate panel talks at the fair.

— Mine was mostly about Gen Z and how social media marketing is taking a turn, Grääs explains. A lot of the talking points was to give brands advice how to interact both with creators and their followers to get good collaborations with transparent creators. Also, the importance of having a channel that is both clear and open about how you work, why you work, and how you influence your followers. One of the biggest subjects that is important to me is the importance of being truthful in paid ads, and that is important for everyone. A brand will benefit from paying an influencer or content creator already in love with your products and that they post about the brand organically, instead of using a script or a forced way to do the ad. 

— The topic of the panel discussion, says Mats Johansson, was to deep dive into Blue Biotech and how it can contribute to beauty from aspects such as sustainability, circular production cycles, increased ingredient efficiency, presenting new innovative solutions, and new potent ingredients. The nature of the topic had us all circulating micro algaes and the exciting potential they represent for beauty but also for other industries. My takeaway from those discussions is that to us biotech represents new opportunities to implement circular production that releases the pressure we put on nature in our hunt for the perfect ingredients. And also an ability to develop new multifunctional ingredients well adapted to the needs of potent skincare formulas. Lastly, it enables us to create formulas where they increase the effect of our well-known natural ingredients and by that bring our natural skincare to a new and higher level. This means that we with this new level of natural skincare are challenging traditional skincare formulations with the same or better efficacy whilst adapting circular production to a much higher degree.

Key takeaways

— Fragrances are increasingly being marketed as tools for wellness and self-care
— We might have reached peak celebrity brands
— Consumers are more eager to understand the proof points of all the claims given in cosmetics
— Sustainable packaging, like recycled or upcycled materials, is the biggest trend and you see it everywhere
— Future brands need a solid platform of values to lean on