Category Archives: Asia

Retail notes from Hong Kong: [Show Report] Cosmoprof Asia 2018

The 23rd edition of Cosmoprof Asia was amazing and super busy. It was my fifth visit to Asia-Pacific’s largest C&T trade show and by now I know many of the exhibiting beauty brands and companies.

Cosmoprof Hong Kong is a great place to meet up with people because almost everyone in the Asia-related international beauty industry tends to be there. The trade show has become a very social event for me, with lots of meetings and coffee dates. It’s so much fun catching up with everyone!

And although this means less time to walk the floor and check out exhibitors and brands, Cosmoprof Asia – the finished cosmetics/retail beauty part of the C&T trade show – is so big that you never manage to see everything anyway. There are only three days allocated to the HKCEC trade show and even if you start at 9.30am sharp (which is when the halls open) and stay until 6pm, the days are never long enough.

Still, I managed to post a total of 30 Instagram pics/brand profiles during those three days – well done me! – and now I’ll introduce the most interesting of these brands (plus a few others that didn’t make it into my Insta coverage) in more detail.

Click on the link below for more info!

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Retail notes from Seoul: A new era of beauty retail [Boots, Chicor, Lalavla, Olive Young]

The first stop on my Asia trip this May was Seoul, for Cosmobeauty 2018 trade show (check out my trade show review here) but also to do my customary store research. This is something I do whenever I travel; even if I have visited the country/city before.

I visit as many health & beauty retailers as possible; at  least one chain per distribution channel: drugstore, perfumery, department store, organic store (or equivalent) and whatever specific retail channel a particular country might have.

And then I spend hours in-store until the security staff and/or sales personnel is starting to give me suspicious looks ; ). I’m checking out the products that are displayed on the shelves: are there any interesting new beauty launches  – any new key ingredients? Product types? Packaging designs?

Does the retailer have any own label brands and if so, what do they look like? Is there just one own label range or a diversified portfolio of proprietary product ranges? What is the overall percentage of domestic brands vs. international brands? And what do the retail chains look like; do they offer any in-store services, features or activities to make shopping in a bricks ´n mortar store more exciting?

I  also take pictures, usually discreetly because retailers in Asia often forbid you to photograph their products or store interiors. Case in point: Chicor and Olive Young (more info in the article!); in one particular Olive Young store I was told no less than three times (by three different staff) that taking photos was not allowed! Although I am a law-abiding citizen by nature I tend to disregard these strictures and as a result I’ve become very good at clandestine photography : )

This was my fifth visit to Seoul and after the first couple of days I was struck by how rapidly the Korean beauty retail market is changing at the moment. And it all started less than two years ago.

There are three (!) new beauty retail chains on the market which offer a European-style perfumery multi-brand concept (and for the Korean beauty market this is is nothing less than revolutionary – again, more info on this in the article!) while drugstore market leader Olive Young is hastily refurbishing its stores across the capital in a scramble to keep up with all of the new competitors.

One week was barely enough to visit all of these new retailers and because so much is happening in the Korean beauty market at the moment, I think it is time for an overview article on all of the new beauty retail chains (with plenty of high-res pictures, of course).

Click on the link below!

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Retail notes from Shanghai: [Show Report] China Beauty Expo 2018

A few days ago I returned from Shanghai, the last stop on my three-week research trip to Asia. My main focus here was China Beauty Expo, the most important beauty trade show in mainland China.

However, I also managed to visit two new bars (Sober Company and Woo Bar; both very much worth a visit!) and explored the very cool M50 Shanghai Art District on Monashan Road (an old factory site converted into an art/gallery space. I have now become a big fan of contemporary Chinese porcelain art!). I also spent a considerable amount of time just walking around the city centre streets, taking pictures of Shanghai’s surreal-looking and amazingly varied cityscape.

But back to the trade show! The 23rd edition of China Beauty Expo took place from 22nd to 24th May 2018 in Shanghai’s Pudong International Exhibition Centre (SNIEC) – for a more detailed description of the exhibition centre’s layout (with pictures) check out my China Beauty Expo 2017 article.

My impression was that this year’s CBE was somehow more structured (a little better organised, perhaps?) and also more international than CBE 2017 – there was a special registration gate for „foreign visitors/media“ which they didn’t have last year (at least not that I remember!) and there seemed to be more Western beauty brands amongst the exhibitors.

Don’t get me wrong, CBE was still overwhelming; bustling, chaotic and completely crowded with visitors, including families and children – tickets are free and anyone can visit; you don’t need trade visitor credentials. The halls featuring primarily Chinese exhibitors were especially popular amongst the local visitors – most of the companies offered free skin care treatments, raffles and freebies.

But this year the show felt much more manageable; probably because I knew what to expect and I also knew which subway station was the best option for the trade show! If you’re interested: it’s the last stop on Line 7, Huanmu Road, which connects to Kerry Parkway shopping center and the Kerry hotel. So much more pleasant than Longyang Road which the official website tells you is the closest station for SNIEC.

But now let’s jump straight in! Click on the link below to read more about some of my favourite brand discoveries at China Beauty Expo 2018.

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Retail notes from Seoul: [Show Report] Cosmobeauty 2018

The 2018 edition of Korean C&T trade Cosmobeauty Seoul took place from 9th-11th May in Seoul’s COEX exhibition centre. It was my third Cosmobeauty visit (for more information, check out my reviews for Cosmobeauty 2016 and Cosmobeauty 2017) and – just like last year – it was a very worthwhile trade show.

I noticed more Western faces this year (and they were not just buyers) and many international K-Beauty/Asian beauty bloggers. It was an exciting two days. And without further ado: click on the link below for a list of my favourite brand discoveries (and re-discoveries!) of Cosmobeauty 2018.

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SPC Magazine: Cosmoprof Asia 2017, Cosmetokyo 2018 and Germany Country Profile 2017

Here are the PDFs of my three most recent articles for SPC Magazine: show reviews of Cosmoprof Asia 2017 (February 2018 edition) and Cosmetokyo 2018 (April 2018 edition), plus one of my favourite SPC repeat assignments: Germany Country Profile 2017; a round-up of what’s been happening in the German beauty retail market over the past year!

I’ve just consulted my files and this is my ninth Germany retail report (2006-2009 and then again 2013-2017). Wow. Back in 2006/2007, department store chain Karstadt was still called Karstadt Quelle, perfumery retailer Douglas still belonged to the Kreke family and drugstore chain Schlecker was still an aggressive force in the German drugstore channel. How times have changed…

Anyway, enjoy the articles. Copyright: HPCi Media.

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Retail notes from Tokyo: [Show Report] Cosmetokyo 2018

I just returned from Cosmetokyo, Japan’s biggest C&T trade show. My last Cosmetokyo visit was four years ago; Cosmetokyo 2014 actually was my very first Asian trade fair! Back then, Cosmetokyo took place in October which worked well with the dates for Cosmoprof Hong Kong (mid-November).

Anyway, over the past three years Cosmetokyo has continued to expand in terms of exhibitor and visitor numbers; in 2015 the trade show date was shifted from October to January and after Tokyo Big Sight exhibition centre became too small for the trade fair, Cosmetokyo moved to Makuhari Messe convention centre in 2018.

Cosmetokyo 2018, the 6th edition of the trade show, took place from 24th-26th January. The first day was a little disorienting; the trade fair has changed so much in the last few years. In 2014 the exhibitors were primarily from Japan and it was very much a domestic showcase.

At Cosmetokyo 2018, however, more than a third of the trade show’s exhibitors came from outside of Japan, and there were many country pavilions and international companies that it took me a while to find my bearings. But then I did and I enjoyed the trade fair tremendously, meeting exciting new brands and re-discovering old favourites.

In 2018, Cosmetokyo organizers Reed Exhibitions Japan had added a number of new features, including a new and very interesting section of the show – Inner Beauty. The entire trade show constellation – Cosmetokyo and its sister show Cosmetech together with Inner Beauty and Beauty & Health Foods Expo (another new show section in 2018) – was renamed Health & Beauty Week Tokyo. And there were a few other smaller shows which took place concurrently with Cosmetokyo, like Health & Beauty Goods Expo and Lifestyle Expo Tokyo 2018.

And now, after this lengthy introduction: click on the link below for more information about some of the interesting brands I met at Cosmetokyo 2018!

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[Brand Profile]: Kimature

I first came across Hong Kong-based beauty company Kimature at China Beauty Expo 2017 in Shanghai this May and was immediately intrigued by this unusual organic beauty brand. Not only are Kimature’s products based on TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) plant extracts but the brand’s cosmetics are manufactured right there in Hong Kong with locally sourced herbal ingredients.

When I was in town a few months ago for Cosmoprof Asia 2017 I met up with founder Kim Chen and her husband Edward Ian and asked them a bunch of question about their company. Click on the link below for more information about Kimature’s products and the concept behind the brand.

Kimature White Jade Orchid range

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Retail notes from Hong Kong: [Show Report] Cosmoprof Asia 2017

I’ve just returned from Hong Kong where I attended Asia’s biggest C&T trade show, Cosmoprof Asia 2017.  As always, it was an exhausting and exciting three days. This year’s trade show took place from 14th to 16th November (the dates for Cosmopack were 13th to 15th November).

As a quick reminder: last year, organisers Bologna Fiere/UBM Asia decided to split the trade show into two separate entities – Cosmoprof (finished cosmetics) continues to take place in the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) while sister show Cosmopack (packaging, ingredients, OEM, manufacturing) was relocated to Asia World Expo (AWE) near Hong Kong International Airport.

Since Cosmopack was moved to AWE the exhibition centre feels much less crowded although, don’t get me wrong, it was still very busy indeed. I also liked it that this year the press office was located on the ground floor next to registration, rather than tucked away in an obscure corner in one of the halls.

And here are the key facts and figures about this year’s trade show! 2,877 exhibitors from 54 countries presented their products, brands and services at Cosmoprof and Cosmopack which equals an increase of 7% compared to 2016 exhibitor figures. Total exhibition space across both locations grew 11% to 108,600 sqm and there were 25 country pavillions. The 2017 Country of Honour was Korea and around 74% of Cosmoprof/Cosmopack exhibitors were from Asia, followed by Europe with 18%, the US with 4% and Africa, the Middle East and Oceania with 1-2% respectively. According to the official post-show press release stats, a total of 83,793 visitors from 135 countries visited Cosmoprof/Cosmopack, an increase of 9% compared to 2016.

There was also an exciting new trade show section in 2017 – the Natural & Organic showcase in Hall 3. The Wellness & Spa and Discover Trends sections returned in 2017 as did the popular Boutique charity shopping area – at the Boutique booth visitors can purchase sample sized cosmetics from trade show exhibitors, with all proceeds going to a Hong Kong charity. Another new feature this year were the Cosmoprof Beauty Circle Awards. For details about the award winners, scroll down to the end of the article.

Like every year, Cosmoprof Asia was divided into four key product sectors: Perfumery & Cosmetics (Hall 1 + Concourse and Hall 5C), Beauty Salon (Hall 3E + Concourse), Hair Salon (Hall 5G + Concourse) and Nail & Accessories (Hall 5E). And, like every year, the three days of the trade show were much too short to see everything, so I concentrated on Halls 1 and 3 with a brief visit to Hall 5.

The 2017 show was my fourth visit to Cosmoprof Asia – if you’re interested you can check out my show reports for Cosmoprof Asia 2014, Cosmoprof Asia 2015 and Cosmoprof Asia 2016. And now, click on the link below to read more about my brand discoveries at Cosmoprof Asia 2017!

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Retail notes from Tokyo: [Brand Profile] Tokotowa Organics

Today I visited organic perfumery chain Cosmekitchen’s Naturopathy outlet in Shinjuku’s luxury Newoman department store to check out the aromatherapy fragrances of Japanese organic perfume brand Tokotowa Organics. I had met the founder of Tokotowa’s parent company Organic Styles at the Natural Cosmetics Conference 2017 in Berlin just last month – and of course I was immediately interested. A Japanese aromatherapy brand? Cool!

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Retail notes from Shanghai: [Brand Profile] Urtekram China / Yatikelan

The last stop on my recent Asia trip was Shanghai; China’s largest city (according to Wikipedia) and one of the country’s four so-called top tier cities. It was my first visit to Shanghai (and mainland China) and I loved it.

Granted, I only saw the (touristic) city centre – I was there for just four nights (on the 144 hour transit visa deal for EU citizens) and two of those days were spent at China Beauty Expo 2017 – but still: such a cool city!

It’s great for exploring on foot, has a fascinating cityscape, interesting buildings, stores and markets, and the food!!! And Shanghai has a fabulous bar scene, too – I wish I could have had an extra few nights to try out all the bars on my short list; thank you @asia.cocktails! – but at least I managed to visit Speak Low bar. An excellent night.

But this article isn’t about Shanghai’s tourist attractions, it is about an organic beauty brand which I discovered quite by accident in a Watsons drugstore on Nanjing East Road (Pedestrian street ). Even more surprising was the fact that I knew the brand – Urtekram is one of THE best-known and oldest Danish organic beauty brands and they have a wide European distribution. However, it seems that Urtekram (or “Yatikelan”) also has a product portfolio of around 100 sku designed specifically for the Chinese market. Exciting stuff!

Essences, toners, lotions, BB creams, CUSHION FOUNDATIONS, men’s care; face masks – these are Asian formats and textures. None of these product ranges are available anywhere in Europe (or in East Asia either; at least I haven’t seen these products in any of the beauty stores I’ve visited in Tokyo, Taipei or Hong Kong). The ranges aren’t listed on Urtekram International’s website either.

I tried to contact Urtekram China through their official Shanghai address but didn’t get a response. I can’t read a word of Mandarin, unfortunately, and Google Translate doesn’t work so well with non-Western scripts, but I did my best to dig up some info for y’all. Keep in mind that most of this info is based on assumptions, conclusions, inferences and some creative lateral thinking.  If anyone of you kind readers out there can confirm or correct the facts or has additional info about Urtekram China, please let me know and I’ll update the article accordingly.

I also took a whole bunch of photographs (I think I spent almost an hour sitting in front of the product display; the sales assistants were starting to give me distinctly nervous glances) and I bought two of the hydrating toners which are SUPERB! Loving the textures.

Anyway, this is probably the longest teaser paragraph I’ve ever written for a trend-traveller article, so click on the link below for more info and pictures!

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