This is a translation of my German blogpost Hinter den Beauty-Kulissen… ProTec Ingredia GmbH Proudly Presents: Wie es der Kosmetikbranche während der Pandemie geht. Enjoy!
In cooperation with ProTec Ingredia // A few weeks ago I received an invitation to ProTec Ingredia’s Christmas event. Since classic Christmas parties aren’t possible this winter the company had decided to organise a virtual get-together: everyone at his or her home in front of the laptop, with mulled wine, cookies or coffee. This gave me an idea: I thought it might be interesting to find out how a distributor of cosmetic raw and active ingredients has fared during this challenging and memorable year. So I decided to interview ProTec Ingredia. (The picture above with the company’s team was taken last October).
Beautyjagd: It has been over six months since the Corona pandemic began in Germany. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your day-to-day work routine?
Birgit Gertchen-Ohligschläger, Senior Sales Manager (on the very left of the photo): There have been so many changes! Under normal circumstances we travel a lot and visit our customers in their offices and factories, but that hasn’t been possible since March. Since travelling and meeting people face-to-face isn’t an option at the moment, a lot of the socialising we usually do during these visits isn’t possible either which is a pity. Sometimes the most interesting ideas for new projects are generated during an informal chat! All of us work from home as much as possible. This summer – when the Corona situation was much better, governmental restrictions were relaxed and domestic travel was possible again – we were able to visit a few customers at least. However, this came to an end in October when infections started to rise again. You might think that our everyday work life has become easier without the constant business travel but that isn’t true: some things now take a lot more time and effort to organise.
Trade show visits are an integral part of your work routine. How did you get along without trade fairs and industry events?
Norbert Trage, Senior Sales Manager (second from the right on the picture above): The winter seminar of the Swiss SCC (Society of Cosmetic Chemists) in the city of Davos took place as planned in early February, and we also had a booth at the Berlin Natural Cosmetics Conference in October 2019 where we met up with you 🙂 . But all other events from March onwards were cancelled and we really missed them. In October we participated in the digital conference of Sepawa (a trade association for the European detergents/cleansers, cosmetics and perfumery industry). We think it’s amazing how Sepawa managed to organise a virtual trade show in such a short amount of time. However, many customers still have to get used to these new formats; it would have been nice to have had more visitors.
Did your suppliers have delivery problems because of the pandemic?
Marina Prinsen-Löbbering, Inside Sales Manager (on the right hand side of the photo, with the dogs): Luckily our suppliers didn’t have any delivery shortages or bottlenecks at all. They had prepared for the new situation from the beginning of the pandemic. We don’t have much to do with disinfectants though otherwise the situation might have been different…
What is your impression of the situation that is facing the beauty manufacturers – who, after all, are your clients – at the moment? Do you feel that there were fewer new products planned (or launched) in 2020 than in previous years?
Birgit Haemel, Managing Director (second from the left on the picture): That varies quite a bit and mostly depends on the retail channel. Manufacturers of cosmetic products for hair salons, beauty institutes, spas, hotels and Duty Free stores saw considerable losses due to the governmental Corona-related restrictions. Disinfectant manufacturers, on the other hand, are practically coining money at the moment. Companies that sell their products through online shops or via home-shopping TV are also successful. After all, we are all spending much more time at home at the moment and go outside less frequently than in previous years! Looking at the offline retail situation I have noticed that cosmetic products sold in drugstores are doing very well, especially the own label brands manufactured by private label companies. High-end beauty brands, however, are facing more difficulties than mass market cosmetics this year – there were reports of serious losses within the premium sector. The pace of new product launches has also slowed down in some cases because studies had to be postponed. Unfortunately this also affected some of the raw ingredients manufacturers.
What was the biggest challenge you had to tackle during the pandemic so far?
Everyone in the team: Definitely the lack of travelling. We miss meeting people so much. We also had to learn how to conduct and participate in virtual meetings.
Has the pandemic also brought some positive changes for ProTec Ingredia?
Birgit Haemel: Yes, definitely; like the realisation that virtual meetings can work really well! This has become a new retail channel for us – we actually reached a few new clients who wouldn’t otherwise have “seen” us – so we’ll continue using it in the future. And speaking of seeing, it is really nice to occasionally see each other on a video call rather than just speaking on the phone 🙂 . And of course we used a lot less fuel – we saved several thousand kilometers worth of driving because we travelled so much less this year which, in turn, is good for the environment. Fewer business trips also meant that we gained more time for things that otherwise would have been postponed.
This is the last Beauty Soap chapter for 2020 but we’ll continue our article series in the new year! The topic in January will be sustainability: I’ll be finding out more about what raw ingredients manufacturers do to protect and conserve nature and the environment. See you next year!