Earlier this month I headed over to beautiful Bologna to visit Cosmoprof – and here’s what I thought of it.
What is Cosmoprof?
If you haven’t heard of it before, here’s what their website says:
As the most influential global event dedicated to all facets of the beauty industry, Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna has been a landmark event for more than 50 years.
Cosmoprof is where companies do business and the perfect stage for the beauty trend-setters to present breakthrough product launches and innovative solutions.
Basically, this 5-day event is the world’s biggest trade fair for beauty businesses!
Here are some of the stats from their 54th edition:
- Over 250,000 attendees from more than 150 countries
- Close to 3,000 exhibitors from 64 countries
- 29 country pavilions – dedicated sections for different countries (including Australia!)
Cosmoprof is for anyone in the beauty industry – 3 days are dedicated to cosmetics and packaging, and 3 days are dedicated to beauty salons and hairdressing.
Why I went
- To expand my international network of beauty industry contacts. I do a lot of work with overseas clients who are wanting to import their products into Australia.
- To meet some of my Australian clients, like Meagan Pate from Straand (that won the Best Hair Product award which is a huge achievement!) and other industry contacts that I hadn’t met face-to-face before.
- To learn about beauty industry trends to share with my clients, students and community (which I’ll share in Part 2).
- Because I love travelling. One of the things I love about having my own business is not having to ask a boss for time off, and how it can pay for business-related travel expenses!
What I thought of it
As you can see from the stats above, it was HUGE. I’ve been to the Hong Kong edition a few years ago, but this was next level.
At one stage I thought I’d seen most of the halls, but then found two whole new sections. Including an area where the stands were basically whole shops. I’d say BolognaFiere, the venue it’s held at each year, is about 10 times the size of the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre!
There were so many epic stands and displays from both big and small brands, and it really helps you appreciate just how massive the industry is. This actually overwhelmed me at one point, wondering ‘what is my place in this industry’, but I reframed it by thinking about the endless possibilities.
I also took it as proof that the industry is still thriving despite everything that’s going on with the economy.
Want to see what the inside of Cosmoprof looks like? Check out my reel of the stand highlights.
Would I recommend going to see it for yourself? 100% yes!
Plus Bologna is a totally underrated city – the medieval architecture and porticos are stunning, the food is amazing and the people are so friendly (here’s my reel of an afternoon in Bologna).
Why you should think about going
- To build your own industry connections as you never know what opportunities will come out of it.
- To get ideas for packaging and to meet potential packaging suppliers from EU and Asia (see my packaging inspo reel here).
- To go as a visitor so you can see what’s possible and be inspired to dream big for your brand – and to see what it’s like to exhibit.
- To be an exhibitor and have your brand seen by potential distributors and retail chain buyers so you can crack the overseas markets. This year, Global Victoria gave selected Victoria-based beauty brands the opportunity to be part of their official delegation and meet with buyers.
10 tips for attending Cosmoprof
- Do research and be clear on your goals for visiting, e.g. who you want to meet. This is something I’ll do better next time!
- Minimise jetlag – when you’re doing a short business trip you don’t have time for jet lag! Make sure you know how to manage it.
- Book your flights early – I got a special deal with Singapore Airlines (my fave) which was $1700 return flying economy but with extra legroom for the overnight flights. Future goals are to fly business class!
- Book your accommodation early – accommodation is super expensive during expo weeks in Bologna so try to find a good Airbnb, or otherwise you might need to stay out of town. I loved my Airbnb right in the city centre – it was very reasonably priced and a 30min walk to the venue when I couldn’t get a taxi or Uber.
- Wear comfy shoes – you’ll be doing a lot of steps!
- Keep fuelled and hydrated – the food queues were always long, so try to avoid peak times. It was tasty, but not cheap. I took my water bottle, but there were no water stations to refill it – which I thought was a bit disappointing given the increasing focus on sustainability. I bought more water there but definitely not enough.
- Be ready to feel overwhelmed – it’s easy to get comparisonitis there when looking at all the displays, but remember that a lot of these brands have been around a while or invested a lot of capital upfront. Plus, a big stand didn’t necessarily mean it was more popular. Giving out samples and having an element of gamification (like a spinning wheel) proved popular, as were the warm and inviting stands and brightly-coloured stands colours, moreso than the minimal or clinical ones.
- Budget for it – include the trip in your annual budget, and check with your accountant about expenses you can claim.
- Stay organised – keep all your receipts in an envelope or folder to sort out at the end of your trip – or email them to your bookkeeper/accountant each day (I wish I’d done this). Write on the receipt what it was for in case you forget (I also wish I had done this).
- After the event – follow up with any contacts you meet and track the return on investment to see if it’s worth attending in future (think like a CEO!).
Cosmoprof Worldwide will be back in Bologna from 21-25 May 2024. They also hold events in other markets throughout the year, like the USA and Asia.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll cover what the top trends are and what the future of beauty looks like!
Let me know in the comments or via DM – would you love to attend Cosmoprof Worldwide in 2024?
Or if you’ve got any Bologna or business travel-related questions!