The French market for cosmetics has been growing for the past several years and has been a flourishing industry in the French economy. In 2006, French sales of cosmetics and beauty products (including perfumes, toiletries and hair care products) reached USD 4.7 billion. In 2007, this tendency has still been confirmed, and the entire industry reported good results, particularly for perfumes sales which have registered an increase of 11 percent, followed by the make-up sales (+ 4.3 percent). According to the French trade association for beauty products, the first strength for the beauty industry in terms of value is face care representing 30 percent of the total market.
Due to the know-how of local companies, the label “made in France” remains a sign of quality and consequently, French companies continue to gain market shares not only in Europe, but also in the U.S. (+7.8 percent), in Russia (+43.7 percent), in China (+39 percent), and in India (+11.3 percent). French products are sold in more than 202 foreign countries.
Consumers are becoming very demanding and are always expecting more and more efficient products. They like to try new and innovative products. This is why companies need to adapt themselves to the want and needs of these consumers by launching new products every year. Although this is a very difficult and competitive market due to the dominance of French leading companies, (particularly L’Oréal and L.V.M.H.) and because of a very severe legislation, there are market opportunities particularly for U.S. niche brands. There are a few French distributors interested in sourcing innovative products from the U.S.
According to market specialists, the following sectors are in a high demand in France: Cosmeceuticals, which is a new category of cosmetics, includes “personal care products containing at least one bio-active ingredient that not only enhances appearance but also has a positive physiological effect at the cellular level.” This new category may sometimes be considered as a pharmaceutical product.
• The spa industry is still remaining one of the most dynamic markets with a significant increase over the past few years.
• Natural and organic products are becoming a new trend in France. This sector has shown excellent records in France these last two years, and is anticipated to grow in 2008 and 2009.
The best opportunities will be offered to U.S. companies which:
• Invest heavily in promoting (i.e. through advertising and marketing) their products, in efforts to attract new consumers, keeping in mind it may take a long time to build a powerful image.
• Bring something new and exciting to the consumer, who is already provided with a wide variety of products from established companies.
• Present their products in high-quality, new and innovative packaging materials. French women and men tend to choose products that are neat and tightly packaged but that are also creative and eye-catching. Because there are so many existing products on the market, a new U.S. firm will have to match and/or surpass the sophisticated and neat aura of the French packaged product