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Reflections on innovation in the European personal care sector

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GUIDO BOGNOLO
WSA Associates

INTRODUCTION
In my job of free-lance consultant I am led to ask frequently to existing and new correspondents: WHAT’S NEW? It elicits interesting responses, it helps breaking the ice with a new contact and it is a useful catalyst to get the conversation going.

For quite some time now, when I ask the question to my friends in the personal care business I get a pretty flat and deceiving answer: NOT MUCH! That is certainly true for the formulation and functional ingredients, while the growing category of “actives” is in my view not an expression of innovation, but rather of shallow diversification.

Well, my first reaction was: after all the new may be that there is no new. But thinking it over, I began to feel uneasy and to find surprising and almost unbelievable that an industry segment that has always been a volcano of ideas, creativity and innovation from marketing to technology to packaging to toxicology could have run out of steam. And when I challenged the initial statement with the obvious next question: WHY DO YOU SAY SO? I gradually came to realize that it is perhaps the absence of either really new, original concepts ...
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