As one who has made numerous business trips to China and the Shanghai region in particular in the past two years, I have observed one sure thing—each time I return, the Chinese economy and the industry from which we craft our living has grown seemingly beyond limit: new malls, new high-rise buildings and, to the western cosmetics professional, new competitors with which to contend.
The quality displayed by exhibitors was good, organization was slick, transport to the show area easy to pick up, and, more importantly, we were whisked promptly away at the end of the day without having to contend with Bologna-length taxi queues. The organizers expected 7,000 visitors, but the final number was almost twice that. Fellow exhibitors I spoke with were happy with the traffic—except on Saturday which, in retrospect, may have been one day too many—putting aside any concerns that this show came too soon after Cosmoprof Hong Kong and would be a duplicate event. This coming year, however, will see tough decisions to be made as companies ask: “Do we show in Hong Kong or Shanghai—or both?”
“Shanghai is the design center of Asia,” said one senior vice president of a U.S. global brand. So much so that his company will open an innovations center later this year just to monitor the Chinese market and track trends–and no doubt the competition, as well. I also met the CEO of a successful Munich, Germany-based design agency who had recently opened a Shanghai operation staffed with one of his own team, who had recruited “the cream of Shanghai” design graduates to build a Chinese platform for the business. He expects his new Shanghai operation to outstrip European revenues within three years.
China is no El Dorado for the cosmetics industry, not when import duties are coming down and the product registration process is lengthy and complicated. There are still IP issues. But the Chinese market is tipped to double in size by 2012, and with a female population aged 16 to 45 whose numbers total nearly the entire combined populations of the U.S. and Japan, it’s one we cannot ignore.