Cosmetics retail trends: less packaging, experiences more important than the products

Interview with Baiba Cipa-Ziemele, Head of Global Sales and Marketing at STENDERS. Baiba will speak at the BALTICBEST festival in Tallinn on the 30th of August 2017.

What are the main consumer behaviour trends in the Baltics? 

Maybe it’s not so much about the trends, but more about the challenge. Retail can be quite challenging, but especially now, it can be really interesting.  

At the moment, a lot of experts and marketers are talking about the dawn of retail, that retail is going down because of emerging internet shopping and mobiles and etc, but I personally don’t agree with this.  

I think right now is a very good time for retail, because now we can focus on our customers and put our products on the second place. What we can see now, is that retail is actually coming on even stronger, while web sales are growing. We can see that people are still attracted to our stores, they like to visit us and get an experience. At the core of our business, we are offering our clients an experience and in this business with such severe competition, offering an experience is something we can stand out with.  

In China, where we also have significant business, technologies are running ahead and the main focus is on web sales. In Europe, everyone are also talking about that, but we don’t feel that.  

Especially in the Baltics, we are talking a lot about omnichannel retail, but it’s happening quite slowly. Retail stores are still there and standing strong, that’s why we need to focus on offering an experience.  

What do you mean by this “experience”? 

We can see that experiences are getting more important than the actual products.  

It definitely doesn’t mean that products have lost their importance, but now it’s very important to offer something genuine, different and attractive to our clients and I’m not talking about the products.  

Marketing should be about people, not about the products. Over the last few years, we have seen that our customers, when coming to our store, want to have a proper customer experience, they want to try products, communicate with shop assistants, get information. We are trying to get better at, not only serving our clients, but also building communities.  

Loyalty is a very tricky term at the moment, on day there’s one brand, the other day, they want to try something else. We are trying to give customers something additional, like information on how to take care of skin or have a good life in general. By offering a really great retail experience we also invest in our brand awarenss. 

What about product trends? In the food sector, we can see a drift towards environmentally friendly products, how do these trends apply in the cosmetics business?  

In cosmetics business, there are definitely similar trends, the industry is focusing on making products more natural and less harmful to the nature. Cosmetics companies are trying to cut back on the package and change some ingredients. These changes are not reflecting on the products so quickly. In our region,these changes will probably take place in the next two or three years.

Our company is changing their policy on the packaging. We used to have primary and secondary packaging, we made a lot of effort to design the packaging to make it as nice as possible. We are now removing the secondary packaging from a lot of our products, apart from some products which still have it because of the information we need to show about the products. We our already producing products without extra packaging and examining our parterns who are supplying us, undestanding if their bottles and jars can be recycled. This kind of awareness is everywhere, and I expect it to continue for the next few years. 

Can you spot any differences between consumers in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? 

From my experience, the customers in Lithuania are more open to try new products and more open to answer surveys and questions. They are more open to participate in our product development, but I can’t say the same about Estonians or even Latvians, though our company is from Latvia. In terms of choosing products, I can’t see big differences.

The biggest sales volume is in Latvia, because it’s our home country, Estonia is in the second place, I think that’s beacause in Lithuania there are more small cosmetics manufacturers than in Estonia. 

Baiba Cipa-Ziemele, Head of Global Sales and Marketing at STENDERS (Latvia)

Baiba Cipa-Ziemele is the Head of Global Sales and Marketing at Latvian cosmetics company Stenders. Her daily tasks include development of sales and marketing strategy, internal and external communications, brand management, sales promotion, campaign planning, international relations, global sales and marketing plan and local adaptations in Europe, Asia and Russia. Stenders was founded 2001 and since then, the company has grown remarkably both locally and globally. Today, Stenders has a portfolio of 350 products and more than 220 shops in 25 countries. Having worked for ten years for the company, Baiba has overseen the opening of over 30 Stenders shops in Europe.

Interviewd by Hando Sinisalu, Best Marketing International