Exclusive interview: Cosmogen's Priscille Caucé on dispensing, coronavirus & trends

Alissa Demorest
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Exclusive interview: Cosmogen's Priscille Caucé on dispensing, coronavirus & trends

Priscille Caucé, CEO of packaging applications specialist Cosmogen, talks to Luxe Packaging Insight about its newly announced merger with dispensing company PYC, how the company is faring in the coronavirus crisis and her plans for future growth.

What were your priorities when you arrived at Cosmogen last year, and what impact has the crisis had on the business?

I put into place a development strategy with a five-year plan, which is ongoing.

In terms of the current crisis, surprisingly enough, we have seen very few order cancellations compared to some of our fellow suppliers. I would venture to say it has been stimulating for our teams: we’re coming up with new ways of working and of reaching out to our clients in a more digital way and are focusing heavily on innovation. Our Innovation & Development department here in Paris continues to work with our innovation team in China—both offices are working full time. As Cosmogen is a company centered on innovation, this portion of our business hasn’t been impacted; on the contrary, we’re investing even more here than before.

By region, our business in China has picked up significantly in recent weeks and in the US our teams are quite agile and are finding new and different ways to grow the business, so thus far we haven’t been impacted there too much. Brazil is in the midst a slowdown, but the market there is known for its highs and lows, and when it picks up again we are confident that we’ll see significant growth—we just need to get through the current slump.

How will the crisis impact your supply chain and manufacturing footprint?

My predecessor had already taken a localized approach to production, which I have amplified since I arrived. Cosmogen operates four client hubs: Asia, France/Europe, the US and Brazil. We just signed a partnership with a factory in Mexico for our American clients and have a partnership with a site in Brazil for our clients there. Other big news: we are finalizing an agreement for production in Europe to meet client demand in terms of time-to-market and CSR concerns. This will mean no longer sending our products airfreight and we’ll be supporting local manufacturing. The idea is to duplicate what we do in Asia for our biggest ranges to Europe; it’ll then be up to our client to choose where they want to manufacture depending on their budget and their constraints.

We also have a partnership in France with Qualiform, with whom we co-created the Perla range that combines our application expertise with their know-how in tottles.

You announced Cosmogen's merger this week with PYC, a dispensing specialist within your holding company MBO & Co.

Yes, and there were two reasons for the merger. First, we often heard from our clients that they were hesitant to work with a new supplier, and around the time when there was quite a bit of consolidation in the dispensing realm we told them that we were thinking about absorbing PYC. The bigger beauty groups said that they would be interested in diversifying their panel of suppliers. So the merger with PYC made sense; we can now offer our clients a global packaging offer from the applicator to dispensing system.

How can you compete with market leaders Aptar and Silgan in the dispensing arena?

Our idea isn’t to go up against these companies. Cosmogen aims to focus mainly on airless dispensers and skincare pumps and we’re dipping a toe into fragrance dispensing, but that part of the business will be quite small for now. Our offer will be limited and will fit in with Cosmogen’s positioning: premium and with an expertise in application.

In addition, all of our dispensing options are both Ecocert-certified and food-grade.

We don’t disclose our figures, but I can say that at the least we aim to double PYC’s current business.

How will the coronavirus crisis impact your product development?

Hygiene is going to become a key component in cosmetics application. Cosmogen already has a strong background in this area and we aim to reposition and repackage our offers—applicators, brushes, spatulas and blenders—to reflect that expertise. We’re seeing a lot of requests from our clients in this area.

Which product segments are performing best?

We had already seen a shift early on in the year with skincare pulling ahead of makeup, but rumors of “skincare is the new makeup” was already being felt in the second half of 2019. While we positioned our offer to adapt to this, our offer strikes somewhat of an equilibrium between the two segments, with 45% of our business in skincare and the remaining 55% in makeup.

What are your projects in the pipeline?

For the moment it’s a bit early to get into specifics, but what I can say is that when I arrived at the company I put into place a product launch strategy based on three points: innovation, renovation and extension. Today we have collections, such as Squeeze’N, that are very strong so for these ranges we are either extending them with new references, or we are in renovation mode, so coming up with new designs. And of course we’re keeping a strong focus on innovation through the creation of new ranges.

We are preparing the launch of a major range that spans both skincare and makeup. The line puts our application expertise in the limelight and offers a strong reloadable component, but one that that is totally new versus what is currently on the market.

What are your initiatives in the area of CSR?

From a product perspective we’re taking a two-pronged approach: looking at using more materials derived from natural sources, as well as responding to the trend for more lasting packaging that can be refilled or reloaded. These “greener” plastic solutions include chemical recycling solutions and materials made of plastic derivatives. Plastics are in need of reinvention so it’s important that we look closely at these new high-potential alternatives.

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