By Catherine Jewell, Information and Digital Outreach Division, WIPO
Since it was established in 1983, Poland’s Inglot Cosmetics has become one of the world’s leading cosmetics manufacturers. Known for its high-quality products and extensive color palette, Inglot’s cosmetics are a favorite on Broadway, among celebrities and customers in 90 markets. Zbyszek Inglot, Chairman of the Board at Inglot Cosmetics, talks about the company’s beginnings, its commitment to meeting its customers’ expectations through innovation, and it’s plans for the future.
Tell us about how Inglot came to be established.
Inglot was founded in 1983 by my brother Wojciech Inglot. He was a chemist and started researching cosmetic formulas during his studies at Jagiellonian University. He was a visionary innovator. He wanted to establish a new approach to color cosmetics and to make them available to Poland’s domestic market. His mission was to combine beauty and science by developing a makeup line based on advanced scientific formulas.
What is the current scale of your business?
We offer a wide range of products and colors both for makeup and skincare. Overall we have around 2,500 products in our assortment. Our products are available from some 900 locations in 90 markets on six continents. Our brand is available in mono- and multi-brand stores, airport stands, our own e-shops and online multi-brand platforms. Ninety-five percent of all Inglot products are produced in-house at our manufacturing facilities in Przemyśl , Poland, which is where our research and development department is located. Ninety-eight percent of our range is produced within the European Union.
Producing quality products, which reflect our commitment to scientific research and the needs of our customers, is one of our top priorities.
Tell us about Inglot’s “pioneering” approach to make-up.
Producing quality products, which reflect our commitment to scientific research and the needs of our customers, is one of our top priorities. We were the first cosmetics brand in the world to introduce the Freedom System, which gives customers the opportunity to create their own personalized make-up palettes. We were also the first brand to launch a line of breathable nail polish, using an advanced formula that allows air and water to pass through the nail plate, keeping it in the best condition. We are also responsible for developing Duraline’s innovative formula, a favorite among makeup artists around the world. Our products are formulated and packed in safe conditions in line with the highest standards of control and quality. We always strive to be open with our customers and to exceed their expectations.
It is often said that Inglot’s cosmetics are a Broadway favorite. What is it that makes your products stand out in the hyper competitive cosmetics market?
Our brand became a perfect match for the make-up artists working on Broadway musicals because of the high-performance quality of our color cosmetics. We got involved with Broadway theater when the representative of the Tony Award-winning musical Pippin contacted us. From 2013 up to 2020, when the global pandemic hit, we collaborated with 17 musicals including The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, The Wicked, Chicago and Mamma Mia.
These musicals can last up to three hours, and are typically more dynamic than theater productions, so the actors require longer-lasting makeup. Moreover, makeup artists are influential and choose the products they find the most appropriate for the project they’re working on. We were delighted that they chose to work with our products. As the cosmetics market becomes ever more competitive, introducing more innovative product concepts and formulas has become an imperative. As we are present in so many markets, the range of products and colors we provide is very wide. This ensures we meet the expectations of our customers in those markets. Our pioneering concepts and iconic product range are drawing customers to the brand and ensuring they keep coming back for more of our top-quality formulas.
Our brand became a perfect match for the make-up artists working on Broadway musicals because of the high-performance quality of our color cosmetics.
What role do technology and innovation play in your company and the development of your products?
Technology and innovation play a very important role in the company. The best examples of our commitment to innovation are the large-scale investments we have made in our new modern laboratories and R&D center, which were put into operation six months ago.
We also cooperate with external research and science institutions, including, for example, the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków. With technology we are able to come up with new and improved products. For example, we have been able to create a microscopic image of the surface of our breathable nail polish to reveal its sponge-like texture.
How long does it take to develop a new product range?
It always depends on the product type, but from conceptualization to product launch usually takes several months. It is a complex process, involving many different departments, and multiple product tests for stability, compatibility, efficacy, safety assessment, applications tests, and more. But as we have in-house production and R&D capabilities, we are able to develop new products quickly.
What impact did the COVID pandemic have on your business?
I could enumerate many reasons why people were not focused on using color cosmetics and did not buy them, including the closure of theaters, cinemas, restaurants, etc. The lockdowns in almost all countries in which we have operations, were occurring regularly, or starting in one country and ending in another. This limited our operations. The lockdowns were frequent and we were not able to anticipate them. Of course, we put more effort into promoting online sales, but they only partially compensated for the losses caused by closed offline stores. It is also worth mentioning the difficulties associated with the limited availability of the raw materials and supply chain disruptions, which made our processes and the delivery of our products more complicated.
Our trademark is registered in all the markets in which we operate in accordance with the local legal regulations. We also secure trademark protection in markets where we have no presence, and we focus on protecting the names of our products, particularly our flagship products. Protecting our brand is extremely important to us, especially given the prevalence of illegal uses of the brand’s logo and of counterfeit products on some markets.
Protecting our brand is extremely important to us.
Tell us about the fashion houses and celebrities Inglot has worked with.
Up to the pandemic, we actively took part in the Big Four Fashion Weeks in New York, Milan, Paris and London. We worked with high-end fashion houses like Badgley Mischka, Coach, Vionnet and Kenzo. Our presence in so many markets gave a chance to collaborate with local celebrities and influencers to create various dedicated, limited edition collections. One of the most significant partnerships was our global cooperation with Jennifer Lopez. Jennifer did not simply use her image for the collection, she worked closely with the chemists in our R&D department to personally shape it.
What prompted Inglot to secure the V-Label, Halal and GMP certification marks?
Given our presence in such a diverse markets, the decision to obtain these certifications was natural and in line with the cultural mores of our customers in given markets.
In recent months, environmental and health concerns have been raised with respect to the use of PFAs (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, so-called “forever chemicals”) in cosmetics. What is Inglot’s position on this issue and how is the company addressing these concerns?
Of all the compounds classified as PFAs we only use trace amounts of polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether in a handful of our products. This substance is permitted for use in cosmetics without any restrictions. All of our products, with traces of polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether on their ingredient list, indeed all INGLOT cosmetic products, are subject to a mandatory safety assessment performed by independent authorized institutions to ensure their safe use. Recognizing the understandable public concern about this matter, we are working to completely eliminate polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether from our products.
What is Inglot’s approach to diversity, inclusion and gender equality?
Our philosophy is to produce cosmetics with everyone in mind – regardless of gender, skin color or origin. We value the individuality of every client. As a brand we believe that everybody has the right to express themselves in a way that is as close to their hearts as possible. Makeup is one of the ways to express one’s true self, individuality and creativity. Where we can, we take part in initiatives that promote equality and inclusion. For instance, we recently teamed up with Netflix to run a campaign in Poland to emphasize that a manicure is not just for women but for men too. As a part of the campaign, our brand was present at various Equality Parades.
Our philosophy is to produce cosmetics with everyone in mind – regardless of gender, skin color or origin.
The theme of this year’s World Intellectual Property Day campaign is Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity. Why is it important for women to be part of the innovation process and why do they need to be IP aware?
We believe that nowadays, everybody should be IP aware regardless of gender. Diversity and inclusion has been an integral part of our brand’s values since the company was established and long before these issues entered the public spotlight.
On this World Intellectual Property Day, what is your message to women and girls?
I would say to every woman and girl out there: be proud of who you are and what you do because you can really make a change. The majority of executive-level positions at Inglot are held by women. From my own experience, I know what an important contribution women have made to the development of our brand.
Be proud of who you are and what you do because you can really make a change.
What are Inglot’s future plans?
We have recently completed a long period of company modernization and investments. Now, we are focusing on entering new markets, such as Brazil and Japan. And as we move forward, we will be focusing our attention on distributing our products through online platforms and multi-brand stores.