HBA 2012 kicked off on Tuesday, June 19th at the Javits Center in NYC. Not only was this my first visit to the popular beauty show, but I was also on the program, slotted to present during the Education Series about Mintel’s Kinetique trend and the beauty device segment. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. Several members of the Mintel Beauty team were in attendance as well, a few even came in from across the pond!

The show began with a keynote address moderated by Jane Larkworthy of W Magazine, which featured a panel of top execs from a range of beauty brands speaking about the future of the industry. The consistent message was differentiation, putting unique products in front of the consumer that provide more than just functionality. The future looks bright for niche brands that are able to implement this strategy and bring something new to the table.

After that, it was off to the Education Series. The morning announcement about a deal between Walgreens and Boots had me anxious to check out the New Perspectives in Beauty Retailing session, where Walgreens’ Beauty GMM, Marcia Gaynor, was scheduled to speak. The retail landscape continues to evolve and the lines between retail channels, price tiers and product assortments are more blurred than ever. Traditional notions of how, where, and why consumers purchase beauty products are being challenged, and are creating opportunities for new players to advance in the market.

Innovation Pavilion – Product Demonstration

Mintel Product Demo at HBA

A quick time check reminded me that I was due at the Mintel booth for a product demonstration. Following last year’s success, Mintel had again partnered with HBA on an Innovation Pavilion. This year, the theme was anti-aging skincare and we had selected a range of products from the East and West, as a result of their packaging, formulation and positioning claims. Twice a day, someone from the team would walk through each of the products, explaining why they were selected and how they fit in to the larger beauty trends. Our biggest crowds came on Wednesday and even included some of the shows photographers!

To get some last minute inspiration for my presentation, I visited the Spa and Resort Expo and was somewhat overwhelmed by the types of treatments and procedures that have been developed in this space. Mintel’s research on the device segment found that both American and European women are interested in a variety of at-home beauty gadgets. With nearly all of the seats full prior to the start of my presentation with Dan Edwards, SVP of Consumer Products at Sagentia, it’s clear that many manufacturers are thinking about enhancing their offerings with a device or gadget and consumers can expect to see more of these types of products in the years to come.

Headed to the airport on Thursday afternoon, I couldn’t help but think of how much I had seen and heard about in the past three days. It was a busy week, to say the least, but I came back to Chicago with new insights, ideas and contacts, not to mention some under eye circles from the late nights. Fortunately, I also came back with some recommendations on how to fix that last one!