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Testing Trends: Responding to Market Needs

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: October 14, 2008, from the May 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

The beauty industry thrives on change, so it should come as no surprise that any business associated with the industry would also find itself in a period of rapid change. This certainly is the case for testing labs. Over the past five years they have been called upon with increasing frequency to help cosmetic marketers get products to store shelves faster and are responding along with their customers to an ever-changing global regulatory scene.

Going Global

“With the advent of all the new regulations in Europe and the world, there is much more pressure on manufacturers to test well,” said Craig Weiss, president, Consumer Product Testing Company, a private contract testing laboratory that designs and implements testing programs for cosmetic, pharmaceutical, medical device and specialty chemical industries. He has seen a gradual increase in requests for tests to meet European regulations as well as for products making multiple claims. “We have to be more cutting edge,” he said, as far as the services it delivers, to respond to customer needs. “We may develop methods, but the driving force comes from industry.”

Rich Ulmer also has seen a need to respond to the globalization of business. Ulmer, president and CEO of InVitro International, a provider of nonanimal ocular and dermal test systems, said “In the past five years, we have truly globalized our business; we have a European technical and training center thanks to a farsighted investing partner whose core business was and still is ‘cosmetics raw materials developer, manufacturer, and supplier.’ ” InVitro is represented by Res Pharma in 22 countries, and can train European companies in Europe to bring in vitro testing into their own plants. Several larger companies have done this for reasons of speed, cost and confidentiality, according to Ulmer, reinforcing the idea that those needs are now universal.

Ulmer believes the overall business climate has been strong over the past four years with small but steady increases in acceptance of nonanimal testing. “There is at least one other exogenous factor at work favoring nonanimal testing: the ever-increasing cost of ‘caring and reporting’ in an animal testing laboratory.”

Speed to Market

Getting to market ahead of the competition and keeping things new and fresh for consumers are undisputed driving forces in the cosmetic industry today. Testing labs offer critical services, and are therefore being called upon to respond to the industry’s need for speed. “In the last three years, we have had many more conversations with customers who want to introduce products to market faster than at any time in my 11 years with InVitro International,” said Ulmer. The company now offers an expedited lab service offering 24-hour endpoint results.