Pro Beauty Trade Shows R.I.P.

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It was only a matter of time.

When Amazon decided to get into pro beauty, that was the first kiss of death for pro beauty trade shows. Virtually every big brand signed up much to the dismay of salons who for more than 40 years supported entrepreneurs by retailing their goods to their clients. The business was too big to pass up and they decided that the salon business wasn’t important enough.

As Amazon continued to expand its offerings, pro beauty offshoots started struggling. Now the brands were focused on advertising on Amazon, who needed magazines anymore? All the nail magazines folded; Modern Salon is down to 48 pages if that; and even the “blue” newsletter disappeared. The big brands that put the magazines in business all left.

Now the big brands that put the trade shows in business are gone as well. They no longer need to exhibit at a trade show to try to win over a salon, a distributor or a retailer. They have Amazon and most likely, Sephora and/or Ulta. Gone are the days that Paul Mitchell, L’Oreal (Matrix, Redken and such), OPI, and so many others will ever exhibit again.

Cosmoprof North America is being held next month in Vegas. The question you have to ask is, why? COVID didn’t go away and with the Delta variant, it is getting worse. In fact, Vegas is already asking everyone to wear masks. International travel still isn’t happening so forget international visitors which made up so much of the show. Who is going to exhibit that is newsworthy for an attendee? And bottom line, what information can’t an attendee get these days? All trade shows advertise the list of exhibitors so do you really need to attend? It’s no wonder why the Cosmoprof show floor is less than half filled and most likely, will be their last show.

Premier and ABS are in the same predicament. Who is going to exhibit and those companies that do, the question is again, why? The main attendees are booth renters looking to snatch up bargains but with inflation roaring and the supply chain gutted, attendees will be sorely disappointed when they don’t find bargains. There just isn’t any reason for these shows anymore.

The only show that matters today is amazon.com. We went to a mattress store and asked the sales person if they had the best price. “Yes of course” was the standard answer. “You can check online and we guarantee the best prices for at least 30 days after your purchase.” Jokingly I mentioned Amazon and he said they don’t offer the same services as we do. Just for shits and giggles I went to amazon.com and sure enough, they sold every bed Mattress Firm had on their floor at the same price with all the same services. Today, it doesn’t matter what the category is. Amazon is the show that matters.

Truthfully I am not going to miss any of the beauty trade shows. At one time when the real entrepreneurs of the business were exhibiting, threw parties and real innovation took place, they were a blast. But that excitement left more than ten years ago and beauty trade shows have been ghosts of their past ever since. COVID will finally put them to rest, R.I.P.

Cosmoprof North America Changes Format- Retailers Come Join The Party!

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This weekend is the 15th Cosmoprof N.A. show in Vegas. Diehards still call it the BBSI back in the days when new products were introduced and companies tossed extravagant parties morning, day and night.

The show has always been a marketplace for manufacturers to show off their latest offerings to distributors.  But alas two things have happened over the past few years. One, manufacturers have fewer new products to offer and two, there are hardly any distributors left to walk the aisles. Last year was a tipping point with more booths for Asian companies than ever which left many wondering what would be next.

As a “reinvention”, Cosmoprof is tossing out the old layout of the show floor and has created a new layout for 2015. Now there will be only three sections. One for companies focused on professional goods for hair, nails and skin. One for companies that produce machinery, packaging and other raw materials. And finally the third one: For companies that sell goods for retail. Bye-bye distributors, hello retailers.

Now for those in the know, and retailers are certainly more in the know than most, there already are plenty of events and shows for them to attend that sell beauty products. But since Cosmoprof needs more traffic to sell booth space, it had to do something to get more people walking the aisles.

And since Cosmoprof is connected with PBA (Professional Beauty Association), this is the final leg of the conversion of our industry. Most likely, the PBA will need to rename itself to PRBA (Professional and Retail Beauty Association).

What this means for companies that sell both professional-only AND retail products, I have no idea. Since the show floor is small and contained in one room, most likely established companies such as Helen of Troy will claim their old space and be open for business regardless who walks by just as they have done all along. But it will be interesting to see what happens.

The other question of course is what new companies will buy booths for the retail area. Just think of all the companies that supply Sephora and Ulta.

Alas, it anything truly professional anymore? Every brand is sold at Amazon and numerous brands are sold at Sephora and Ulta. They are true merchants. Mass drug retailers are expanding their beauty footprints as well.

Time will tell the future as it always does. For now, Cosmoprof 2015 will be yet another watershed event for professional beauty as we once knew it when it was BBSI.

On a side note it will be very strange indeed to walk into the OPI meeting room without George, Bill or Suzi’s presence. I wonder if they will still have the expresso counter. Life moves forward.

Happy Thursday!