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Trade Routes: Where What Isn’t Will be Found

By: Michael Wynne
Posted: February 20, 2007

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A look at the evolution of cosmetics throughout the past 50 years should give us some hints of future changes. For example, the number and variety of cosmetic products and services has grown exponentially. Yesteryear’s cosmetics were pretty basic: face powders, lipstick, rouge, eyebrow pencil and a few skin creams. Eventually, all suppliers ended up offering pretty much the same products. After a while though, subcategories within each of the main categories began to appear and grow in number.

The makeup challenges of movies and television programs led to the invention and discovery of new approaches and products. Scientific discoveries brought new and often revolutionary ingredients to the industry, stimulating the development of even more new products. Technological advances created new applications for previously unsatisfied needs.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? There is room for even more innovation in every area as suppliers focus on narrower groups of customers with special needs. Genetic science will open yet unimagined doors for new products and services. Laser technology still has a lot to offer. Nanotechnology will make it possible to explore the inner surfaces of skin and travel through the circulatory system to any one point in the body and deliver concentrated chemicals and drugs in very limited areas.

Most companies are overfocused on the present and the past, and give the future only fleeting consideration. Yet the past and the present cannot be changed, but the future is wide open and filled with opportunities waiting to be developed.

Be aware, however, that high-tech is increasingly becoming the road to innovation.

Neil Macglip, director of research at Procter & Gamble’s U.K. facility, states, “Being high-tech is the only way to satisfy customer needs while simultaneously meeting the demands of human and environmental safety, price performance, novelty and noninfringement of competitors’ patents.”

I don’t think that high-tech is the only way, but I agree that these are the challenges facing innovation in today’s cosmetic markets.

Hiring highly creative, open-minded people is one of the most successful ways of creating new ideas, concepts, products and services. Unilever recruits people to fit its 11 competencies, among which are personal qualities such as passion for growth, breakthrough thinking and organizational awareness. Procter & Gamble looks for leadership, collaboration, problem-solving and ability to take risks. Today, all companies are looking for team players who are able to delegate and develop ideas in common.

Exploring Frontiers
Today, the frontiers where science and customer satisfaction meet must be explored. For example, at what point do cosmetics become drugs and drugs become cosmetics? Cosmetics originally started out just highlighting features and qualities, but many of today’s products are increasingly therapeutic as well as beauty aids.

To increase innovation awareness, find out what laboratories around the world are working on. Google keywords “Cosmetics Research” and a whole panorama of research will open up for you. Visit to explore an area that offers unlimited potential in a myriad of fields, including cosmetics. Not everything will be obvious at first glance—life is not that easy—but, with time and as you go up the learning curve, you will begin to generate questions that lead to the search for answers that might become revolutionary new products and services.