We live in an expanding global economy. Over the past decade, world merchandise trade has grown by 4.3% compared to GDP, which has risen by only 2.5%, and world merchandise exports grew 4 times faster than GDP in 2010*.Non-US companies exhibiting at Cosmoprof North America, the beauty industry’s largest business-to-business trade event in the US, represented nearly one-third of total exhibitors in 2011**.

The Professional Beauty Association (PBA) conducted a brief poll last month to find out what you think about import/export and related activities. We asked how many of you import or export, and if not, are you interested in learning more about it? What are your challenges in this arena? Do you feel you have enough knowledge to operate effectively on the international business front?

Question 1: Do you currently import or export products?
Answer Options Response
Yes 50.0%
No 33.3%
Not yet, but we want to 16.7%
Used to, but no longer 0.0%


Question 2: Do you feel like you have enough information to effectively conduct your import/export business?
Answer Options Response
Yes 33.3%
No 50.0%
Do not plan to import/export 16.7%


Question 3: What import/export activities present the most challenge(s)?
Answer Options Response
Selecting a ‘Responsible Party’ 25.0%
Selecting a Customs Agent 16.7%
Moving Goods through Customs 25.0%
Licensing and Regulations 33.3%
Financial/Currency Exchange/Banking 8.3%
Shipping/Logistics 25.0%
Insurance/Loss Protection 25.0%
Not sure 16.7%
Do not plan to import/export 16.7%


Question 4: Identify your greatest challenge in the import/export process. (open-ended text question with comments)
Analysis of responses correspond to Question 3: keeping apprised of “licensing and regulations” for each country or entity cited most often. Answers in ranked order follow:
Finding Customers
Human Resources/Employee to Manage the Process
Understanding the Process
Trust (protecting yourself, insuring against loss)


Results of the survey indicate that international trade can be confusing and presents a multitude of hurdles, with a full 50% of respondents indicating that they do not have enough knowledge to effectively conduct their import/export business. Keeping up with licensing and regulatory requirements was identified by a third of respondents as the greatest challenge.

Where can beauty industry professionals turn for help? See Going Global in this month’s issue for real tools you can use to gain knowledge and negotiate the challenges of going global.

For questions on the Import/Export Survey, please contact Teena Austin, PBA Membership Manager, at teena@probeauty.org.

Thank you to those who participated in the April survey.  Please share your opinions on Company Culture in the May poll!  The results will be reported in the June issue of PBA Progress.

*International Trade Statistics 2011; World Trade Organization, ISBN 978-92-870-3789-3, available at wto.org/statistics.

**Professional Beauty Association; derived from July 22, 2011 exhibitor data.