The main distribution channels for cosmetic products are drugstores, specialized stores, supermarkets and discounters. Foreign exporters can also enter the German market through contracting specialized sales agents to sell their products. Further information about sales agencies/representatives in Germany can be found at the National Federation of German Commercial Agencies and Distribution (CDH).
If a foreign company is interested in selling raw materials for the production of cosmetics, the contracting of a specialized importing company can be of great help. Information about manufacturers, importers and distributors in Germany can be obtained at the German Cosmetic, Toiletry, Perfumery and Detergent Association (IKW), which is the sector's industry and trade association. With almost 400 active members, it represents more than 95 percent of the companies in the industry. Eighty five percent of these members are small and medium-sized enterprises.
ORGANIC COSMETICS - Organic and natural cosmetic products in Germany are sold in organic supermarkets (Reformhaus) and specialized stores. The largest sales channels by far are drugstores, whose organic cosmetics sales in 2012 rose by 10 percent. Yet, in the first half of 2013 drugstore sales dropped for the first time. The biggest strides in 2013 sales so far were made by supermarkets, while classic channels like health stores and organic food shops stagnated. Pharmacies and perfumeries have still plenty of room to grow as outlets. With rising consumer confidence organic cosmetics should be able to build on the success of attracting especially a growing number of the ‘Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability‘(LOHAS) target group in the future and keep the market expanding.
Foreign exporters should be aware that these products are best sold, whenever customers have the opportunity to test them. For this reason, it is very important that companies think of offering potential buyers, product samples and information material. This could be done through in-store promotion or by participating in a related trade show. Trade fairs like Vivaness in Nürnberg or the Beauty International in Düsseldorf enjoy an exceptional reputation among industry experts worldwide. Participating in any of these events facilitates the direct contact with German brokers, importers and wholesalers.