My first trade fair report since the Corona pandemic hit Europe in spring 2020! As I’m finishing this article Europe is knee-deep into the second wave of Covid-19. Germany is now in its second (or third? It’s difficult to keep track) consecutive lockdown and it doesn’t look like the situation is going to improve anytime soon.
At least the Asian C&T trade fair circuit is slowly starting up again. The organisers of Cosme Tokyo fair, for example, have annouced that the January trade show will take place as a hybrid event (13th to 15th January; offline in Tokyo’s Big Sight expo centre and online in cyberspace). I already signed up for the virtual edition!
However, Cosmoprof Asia Digital Week (CADW) in November 2020 was probably the first fully digitalised beauty trade fair to have taken place since Covid-19 appeared on the scene. I enjoyed the event tremendously – organisers Bologna Fiere and Informa Markets did a great job – and when I go through my Instagram trade show coverage, it really does look and feel like I attended a real-life trade fair.
Anyhow, the first virtual edition of Asia-Pacific’s biggest C&T trade show Cosmoprof Asia took place from 9th to 17th November 2020. Originally the fair dates were 9th to 13th November, but the event turned out to be so successful in terms of scheduled business meetings and video chat traffic that the organisers extended the show for another few days.
And if you’re interested in what the usual offline Cosmoprof Asia trade fairs are like, check out my trade show reports from the last years – Cosmoprof Asia 2014, Cosmoprof Asia 2015, Cosmoprof Asia 2016, Cosmoprof Asia 2017, Cosmoprof Asia 2018 and Cosmoprof Asia 2019.
COSMOPROF ASIA DIGITAL WEEK 2020: FACTS AND FIGURES
A total of 652 brands and companies from 19 countries participated at Cosmoprof Asia Digital Week 2020 (227 of the attendees were first-time exhibitors at Cosmoprof Asia), with 15 national and/or group pavillions. Germany and France, which usually have a solid presence at Cosmoprof Asia, were conspicuous by their absence although the UK, Poland, Greece, Spain, Italy and Switzerland had virtual pavillions at CADW.
On the visitor side of things, 8,953 attendees from 115 countries and regions registered for the trade show. The majority of guests came from outside of Hong Kong and China – 28.4% of visitors were from Hong Kong, 15.7% from mainland China and 55.9% from overseas.
Cosmoprof Asia Digital Week was my first virtual trade show (and I’m a trade fair addict) so I was particularly interested in the digital event infrastructure. Granted, no virtual event can ever fully capture the energy, atmosphere and vibes of a physical trade show so I wasn’t expecting that, but I wanted to see what digital solutions the organisers had come up with to – well, to replicate what a visitor would expect from a typical trade show visit.
After all, there are very specific reasons why you participate in a trade fair: checking out new product launches and key trends in your industry, sourcing interesting brands/products/items, striking up new business relationships, networking with distributors and buyers, meeting exhibitors and other attendees, attending workshops and lectures, gathering business intelligence and new ideas; the list goes on.
COSMOPROF ASIA DIGITAL WEEK 2020: THE DATABASE
And CADW did an impressive job in that respect. The core of the virtual fair was an AI-driven business matching platform: a database of exhibitors divided into searchable categories based on the traditional Cosmoprof Asia structure – you can search by product sector, brand name, company, exhibitor country etc.
When I registered for the event I had to fill in a form with my key product/category interests. The first time I logged into the database the system then suggested exhibitors that I might be interested in based on the data in my registration form. And now we’re approaching the machine-learning (AI) aspect of the database: you were encouraged to click yes or no (relevant or not relevant) on the brand suggestions and the algorithm then refined its suggestions further to tailor them even more closely to my stated business interests.
Since I just realised that I completely forgot to take pictures of the actual database view on my laptop I’ll have to upload images from my Instagram stories…not ideal but better than nothing!
What I really liked: each exhibitor listed in the database had to provide a English-language PDF brand/company presentation and a clickable Internet website address.
If you’ve ever visited an Asian trade fair without being able to speak/read the main language of the country it’s located in you’ll know how difficult it can be getting this kind of info.
Smaller domestic brands without an international retail presence often have little or no product/company information in English at their booth. And many Chinese or Korean brands don’t actually have an Internet website because for their business is exclusively social media-based (good luck navigating platforms like WeChat (China) or Kakao (Korea) without being able to read Chinese or Korean : ))
Having all this information at my finger tips was such as big help. Exhibitors were also encouraged to upload their most important press releases and product launches in English and post pictures or video presentations. In addition, each exhibitor profile was associated with at least one registered company staff member who was represented with a profile photo, full name and job title and a clickable link that allowed you (the visitor) to send them a message or video chat request [like in the picture directly below].
COSMOPROF ASIA DIGITAL WEEK 2020: OTHER FEATURES
And the event engagement was impressive, according to the organisers: at CADW there were 3,568 confirmed visitor meetings, 31,009 online chats and 101,300 platform visits. Some 3,338 attendees tuned in for the Cosmotalks webinars and 1,975 people watched the Cosmo Virtual Stage sessions.
The Cosmotalks programme was also great, by the way: there were some 20-odd presentations with topics ranging from the annual Beautystreams Cosmotrends presentation over sustainable packaging, the opportunities offered by AI, AR (Augmented Reality) and phygital retail (hybrid term: physical/digital) solutions, consumption habits of APAC/Asian millennials, the development of green/clean beauty in Asia and the e-commerce sector in South East Asia and China all the way to China’s new cosmetics regulations.
When I visit a live Cosmoprof trade fair I never seem to have the time to actually attend the Cosmotalks seminars so I really enjoyed the virtual webinar series this year (I watched around three webinars per day).
COSMOPROF ASIA DIGITAL WEEK 2020: BRANDS
But now let’s finally dive into the many new brands that I discovered during CADW! Since this was a digital event, I had to basically photograph my laptop screen so the picture quality is pretty gruesome, but other than that the next section looks much like one of my usual trade show reports: brands are roughly sorted according to country but not put in any particular order. The descriptions are mostly extended versions of what I already posted on Instagram.
Actually, I just realised that practically all brands that I’m featuring are Korean! I had really looked forward to discovering some nice C-beauty (Chinese beauty) brands at CADW but most of the Chinese exhibitors in the database were from the packaging or OEM/ODM sectors. Not many Japanese (or Taiwanese) brands either.
You’ll notice that many of the newer brand launches are from the clean/green and/or vegan categories – these mega trends are still going strong with no sign of slowing down. Images are screenshots (I hope there are no copyright issues with using those…).
Korean anti-pollution beauty brand Muldream (the brand name stands for My Urban Life Dream) was launched in 2018. Brand founder Kim Hye Jin was battling sensitive, irritated skin and decided to launch her own skin care range. Muldream’s portfolio comprises some 20-odd sku of face care divided into five colour-coded lines: ampoules, serums, face mists, lotions, sheet masks and so on.
This is a classic urban beauty brand: the products focus on soothing, strengthening and moisturising skin stressed out by environmental influences, such as air-borne pollution or a hectic, stressful city lifestyle. Formulations are clean and vegan; ingredients are EWG Verified Green and the packaging is really pretty.
In Korea Muldream is sold in Chicor perfumeries (offline) and through various online stores; and the products are also available in several other international markets, such as Hong Kong, Spain and the US.
Natural beauty brand Beaudiani was also at Cosmoprof Asia Digital Week – it was good to see them again and to check out the company’s latest product launches which were uploaded in the database; like the Moist Toner Tissues – not sure when they were launched but it was definitely after April 2019.
Beaudiani was launched in 2017 and their product portfolio has really expanded since those early days. The company started out with two facial mists and a few aroma sheet masks (check out my Cosmobeauty Seoul 2017 trade show review for a profile of the brand as it was then!) and now there are several face care ranges, a line of plant oils blends and UV products and part of the product range is certified vegan.
The brand’s domestic and international distribution has really been taking off, too. In Seoul Beaudiani has a flagship store and a spa and the products are retailed through various online and offline POS. Internationally, the brand’s available online and offline in a number of countries, including Germany through, for example, Munich-based Miin Cosmetics and online stores Hagel Shop and Missandmissy. And through Amazon, of course.
Korean thermal water brand Steambase was launched just a couple of years ago (in 2018, to be exact) but manufacturer Hummingavis’ first beauty brand offering is already majorly successful judging by the brand’s solid domestic and international distribution.
In Korea, Steambase’s Roseherb cleansing and face care ranges are sold in practically all online and offline Korean drugstore and perfumery chains (including Olive Young, Lalavla, LOHBs, Chicor, Hyundai etc.). In South East Asia the brand is present in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore (mostly through Watsons drugstores), in the US Steambase is retailed through Beautytap and Urban Outfitters, in China through Tmall/Taobao and they’re even in Serbia (courtesy of German drugstore retailer DM’s Serbian outlets).
Another best-selling Steambase range are the Steam Eye Masks – self-heating aromatherapy masks formulated with thermal water – which are claimed to soothe and relax the tired eye area with gentle warmth and calming or invigorating scents (see pic above).
At CADW, Steambase presented its latest launches: the Thermulae Dual Glow Cushion Compact and the All Day Refreshing SPF50++++ Sun Cream which were introduced this April.
This Korean newcomer brand’s 11-sku line-up looks great: organic, minimalistic and genderless face care packaged in a striking triangular airless containers which the company claims keep the ingredients fresh for up to three years. I don’t know when Xuyoni was launched (I messaged the company but didn’t get a reply) but I’m pretty certain it was within the last 12 months – the look and feel of this brand is so contemporary!
The range offers one cleanser (Cactus & Collagen Cleansing Powder); the remaining sku are multi-purpose face care products: creams and lotions with different levels of moisturisation and textures as well as a serum/toner liquid and three sheet masks.
Anyway, the formulations look great and I’d love to try out the products in real life one day, especially the the Synergy Booster which is based on moringa leaf extract and is said to maximise the effects of whichever skin care products you apply afterwards. Prices are rather premium and start at 56.60 USD for the Cactus Cleanser to 98 USD for the cream-oil moisturisers but this is still such an attractive brand. I’d love to try it out some day.
A really cute clean beauty newcomer brand: Deardot was launched by beauty tech start-up Woorikidsplus in March 2020. The brand’s vegan product line-up is compact: a cleanser, a cleansing liquid and a hydrating ampoule; that’s it.
The Yuja Cleansing Seals are water-soluble sheet cleansers which foam up (I think) when you add water to the dry sheets while the Yuja Sparkling Clean Powder are sachets of dry powder which you mix with water and then rinse your face with the resulting carbonated liquid. Finally, the Hydro-Brightening Ampoule is a fresh, watery serum formulated with hyaluronic acid.
The Powder Sachets are bio-degradable (compostable) and the Deardot products are dispatched in a re-usable grown paper box. The two cleanser are formulated with dangyuja seed extract which is a kind of pomelo fruit that grows on Jeju island.
I’d love to find out what the range’s key ingredients are but the Deardot English-language website unfortunately doesn’t provide an INCI declaration or more information about the products. I even tried different browsers because many Korean websites work better with Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge than with Firefox (which is what I usually use), but the result was the same.
Anyway, a Google search revealed that Deardot’s Yuja Cleaning Seals won a Global Green Beauty Award in the “green beauty” category this August because of the eco-friendly packaging concept, the vegan and natural formulation and the company’s involvement in plant preservation. Good for them! I’d like to see more of this brand
Recipebox was launched in 2017 and describes itself as the biggest online children’s beauty brand in Korea. The company’s product portfolio offers a foam cleanser, body wash, body lotions and shampoos for children (the range even includes a hair styling wax!) as well as sheet masks and two perfumes. There is also a whole range of colour cosmetics, including lipsticks and water-based nail polishes, a powder blusher and a sun cushion compact, plus a few more makeup odds and ends.
While I’m rather conflicted about the issue of the beauty industry pressurising very young girls (I’d say the target demographic of the makeup range is 5+ years!) into quite literally buying into the “women have to use makeup and look attractive to have merit in the eyes of (a) society (dominated by patriarchy and the male gaze)” mindset, there is no denying that packaging and positioning of Recipebox is totally on point; the packaging is really pretty. And would definitely appeal to most girls (and some boys as well, of course) in that age bracket.
Anyway, the company claims that Recipebox is doing very well in its domestic market and they were at CADW to find international distributors. Products are priced between 8,000 KRW and 30,000 KRW (approx. 6 Euro to 22 Euro) and according to the Recipebox website, the formulations are natural (EWG Verified Green) without artificial colourants or fragrances.
Looking at some of the makeup shades I’m not so certain…unless they’re talking about the skin care products because there’s no way those lipstick and nail polish shades are all-natural. Although the nail polishes at least are water-based, the company says, so I guess they are a little “greener” than adult nail polishes…an interesting brand nonetheless.
I so badly want to try out this brand in real life! Salvar is a collection of six plant-based toners. Launched in March 2020 by Lycl (the company behind social media beauty brand unpa.), Salvar combines at least half a dozen beauty trends: minimalism (each toner is based on a single key ingredient), plant-based/vegan formulations, high-performance naturals (more than 90% of each product is the actual plant extract) and regional (typically Asian ingredients), traditional (classic hanbang/TCM herbals) and, oh yeah, the products are packaged in glass and paper.
There are six toners in the collection (priced at are around 22 Euro per bottle): Blackbean Ferment Essence Toner (based on 91.73% of bacillus soy bean ferment extract), Tea Tree Essence Toner (91% of the eponymous plant extract), Golden Hibiscus Essence Toner (91.8%), Chaga Mushroom Essence Toner (91.8%) and Laminaria Japonica Essence Toner (90.9% laminaria extract).
I was told that the Salvar launch was a kind of collaboration of Lycl with Marie Claire magazine and perfumery retailer Sephora (not sure though if it’s Sephora Korea or Sephora US) so the products are apparently available in Sephora stores (again, not sure which country’s Sephora). When travelling from Europe to Asia is finally possible again I’ll try and track down Salvar because I definitely want to buy the Chaga and Laminaria toners.
The brand name unpa. stands for “UNPAcked beauty” (also, the full-stop in unpa. is part of the brand name) and refers to the development process of this ultra successful digital cosmetics brand: unpa. products are formulated with/by the million of users of unpa.me, the social media beauty platform of its parent company, Korean beauty tech start-up Lycl.
Lycl calls this Big Data Cosmetics and the process really is fascinating. The company analyses beauty trends, key word searches, product reviews and beauty concerns amongst its platform users, and then develops beauty products that precisely match these demands. Unpa.me users can share their opinions on the product under development in online and offline surveys and when the product’s market-ready there’s even product sampling so selected users can test the product before it is finally launched. Talk about tailoring cosmetics to your consumer!
Unpa.’s current line-up includes a number of ranges; amongst the brand’s bestselling lines are the Bubi Bubi lip care range (the Bubi Bubi Lip Foam Exfoliator was unpa.’s very first product launch) and it’s off-shoot Bubi Bubi Face, the 8-sku Cha Cha range (stands for CHArming CHArcoal) of face and oral care formulated with, well, charcoal and the 6-sku Bye Bye Cica range.
And then there’s the brand’s very latest launch: the 3-sku Lacto Cica range which combines two major ingredient trends: cica (centella asiatica, veeery popular in Asian cosmetics) and lacto-fermented ingredients (probiotics. The new Lacto Cica products contain no less than five fermented ingredients and the range includes a Soothing Toner, a Barrier Cream and (saturated cotton) Serum Pads.
Unpa. is widely distributed in online and offline beauty stores in Korea and internationally and the packaging is such an eye-catcher. A very cool brand indeed. German cosmetics manufacturer Beiersdorf thought so as well, by the way; the company’s Nivea Beauty Accelerator NX (a Seoul-based brand incubator created especially for the Korean market, to pick up/fund interesting Korean beauty/tech start-ups) bought a share in Lycl Inc. in December 2019.
I have a soft spot for Kocostar; I came across them on my very first Korean beauty trade show (International Beauty Expo Korea 2015, if you’re interested) and was so impressed by their fruit slice masks – I’d never seen anything like this : )
Over the past five years I’ve seen Kocostar at various other Asian trade fairs, and it’s alway a pleasure to check out the brand’s new launches.
For Cosmoprof Asia Digital Week, the Korean mask manufacturer had brought along a classic #coronabeauty launch: Calming Cream for Mask Zone is an intensive emollient moisturising treatment designed to be used at night time – you apply it to the mouth/chin area and the cheeks to soothe skin irritation associated with constant mask wearing.
The brand also launched a whole bunch of new Capsule serums. Remember the twist-off single dose Plump Lip Capsule Mask from 2018 (you can check it out in this review of Cosmoprof Asia 2018)? Well, there are now also Capsule Serums for the tired eye area (Rescue Eye Capsule), a Nail & Cuticle Capsule (for nails damaged by nail art), Luster Hair Capsules (a fresh gel formula to lightly condition damaged hair ends) and Sunscreen Capsules with SPF50 PA++++ to protect skin against UV damage while you’re out and about.
Newcomer brand Lalarecipe was launched in late 2019 with a range of three rather cute hydrogel sheet masks: Heart Goggles Moisture Mask, Heart Goggles Brightening Mask and Glow Moisture Mask.
I was really confused when I first came across the term “goggle mask” but after I watched the Lalarecipe video in the CADW database it made perfect sense: These masks are heart-shaped eye and cheek hydrogels which really look a bit like you’re wearing, well, goggles on your eyes : )
Glow Moisture Mask is a two-part hydrogel (the other two masks are just for the upper part of your face); key ingredients are avocado, pineapple and watermelon and the packaging is really attractive. Also, the Glow Moisture Mask has an extra dose of glitter in the hydrogel. Fun!
Although the three masks were, I think, launched before Corona appeared on the scene, they are actually perfectly suitable for #coronabeauty (as the brand video highlighted): the upper face goggle masks can be worn comfortably whilst wearing a mouth/nose covering and the fresh and soothing hydrogel material cools down skin overheated by mask wearing.
THE BEAUTIFUL FACTR. (Korea)
Another Korean beauty brand with a full-stop in the brand name….! Urban skin care brand The Beautiful Factr. was launched in 2019 and offers around 24 sku of face care.
It’s an interesting line-up: many of the products are multi-purpose formulations with intriguing textures, like the Cleansing Ampoule Water Gloss with its thick, luscious consistency, the Powder-to-Essence Probiotic Power Ampoule (the powder turns into the liquid once it’s massaged into the skin) and the Essential All-in-One Syrup which is described as a serum/emulsion/cream hybrid that promises ultra-light yet rich hydration with just one application.
The brand’s latest launches include the V-Shaper Fill Up & Tightening Cream, a dual formula packaged in a jar with two compartments (one section contains a hydrating gel, the other an elasticity-boosting richer cream). The pack comes with a small spatula which features two differently shaped massage ends.
The V in the product name, by the way, refers to the delicate V-shaped chin contour that is considered to be the holy grail for many Korean beauty consumers (one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in Korea is “V-line surgery” jaw reduction).
All The Beautiful Factr. products contains the brand’s special Skin-Probiotic Complex which contains salt-cured wild olive extract, ceramides, collagen and various fermented ingredients. Prices start at 2-4 USD for single sheet masks, 18-22 USD for cleansing products and 35-40 Euro for the moisturiser and serums.
This is another Asian beauty range that I would love to try out in real life! Waphyto is an organic beauty newcomer from Japan (the brand was launched in September 2020) and isn’t the packaging simply beautiful?! Brand founder Atsuko Morita (a phytotherapist by profession) is also the driving force behind St. Louis International, parent company of Japanese feminine hygiene beauty brands Intime Organique and Intimère.
Waphyto is described as Japan’s first organic phytotherapy brand and offers carefully selected traditional Japanese herbal ingredients combines with the latest scientific production techniques. The 22-sku line-up comprises six face care products (incuding a cleansing oil, face wash, toner, milk, facial oil and moisturising cream, six hair care products (shampoos and conditioners, hair milk and scalp lotion, seven body products (body washes, body lotions, hand washes) and three feminine care products (intimate wash, lubricant and intimate oil).
The Waphyto products are manufactured in the Mikawa region of Japan’s Ahi prefecture and most of the ingredients are regionally sourced. All products are based on the three key ingredients chrysanthemum extract, gotu kola extract and mulberry leaf extract and the sheer number of herbal extracts in some of the face care products is staggering – check out the Regena face cream which contains 13 (!) different plant oils, at least 11 plant extracts and a therapeutic blend of 12 essential oils. Wow.
The price point of Waphyto is comparatively moderate (compared to the average pricing of domestic organic beauty brands in Japan): the hand creams start at around 2,000 Yen (approx. 20 Euro), body oils and washes are around 4,000 Yen (ditto for the hair care) while the face care products start at 5,000 Yen.
Although Waphyto is still a newcomer the company has already opened a flagship in Tokyo’s hip Nakame-guro neighbourhood. Other than that it’s online sales only at the moment but I assume that the beauty range is going to extend its offline distribution before long – sister brand Intime Organique, for example, is widely available in Cosmekitchen stores and other organic beauty stores in Japan and Waphyto looks like it should do very well indeed in this kind of setting.
MAKE SURE (Italy)
For obvious reasons disinfectant beauty was a major growth sector in 2020 and Make Sure brought a big dose of glamour and fun to a traditionally very boring product category. I don’t know when exactly Make Sure was launched (the company didn’t reply to my message for more info) but I think it was March or April 2020 – a time when there was still a distinct hand sanitiser shortage in Germany (and all over Europe).
Anyway, Make Sure offers four hand sanitiser gels priced at 5.90 Euro each: Keep Calm is scented with lavender and vanilla, Stay Fresh was formulated with accords of lime and mint, Feel Free has an aquatic fragrance of notes of sea foam and white musk and Blossom features a cherry blossom scent. I just love the packaging colours, they are such eye candy!
The brand has also developed a sanitiser duo especially for offices and work spaces: Black Edition consists of a large-size Hand Sanitizing Gel and a Surface Sanitizing Spray packaged in sleek and stylish black and scented with a unisex fragrance of lime and mint. The Black Edition products cost 14.90 Euro each.
Finally, here’s butt mask brand Butt!tude from the US (again, the exclamation mark is part of the brand name)!
Launched in July 2020, Butt!tude offers three treatment hydrogel masks for skin issues associated with the posterior – impurities, rough skin, ingrown hairs and so on: each pack contains two hydrogels (one for each cheek – I somehow feel like I need to add this clarification…!) which are manufactured in Korea with ingredients from Jeju island.
The Butt!tude Smoothing Mask contains exfoliating Jeju tangerine extract, Butt!tude Hydrating Mask is formulated with Jeju lava sea water and the Purifying Mask features volcanic ash from Jeju’s Hallasan volcano. The masks are claimed to be easy to use, no mess or dripping because the outside of the hydrogel masks is covered with a dry layer so you can sit down with it. Or on it, rather. Priced at around 10 USD for one mask, the Butt!tude masks are, I think, primarily available online at the moment (worldwide shipping from the US) – I don’t think they’re available in Europe yet.
And that’s it from me at Cosmoprof Asia Digital Week 2020. I’m already looking forward to the next edition – I think the digital Cosmoprof trade fair format will be continued in some form or other, even after the Covid-19 has been brought under control and international travel is possible again. Still, I’m an optimist so I already reserved a Hong Kong hotel room for offline Cosmoprof Asia in November 2021 : )