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The Beauty of Trade Associations

In a world where we are being legislated and regulated into ignorance on a daily basis, and globally, a good trade association can be an inexpensive and reliable way of keeping up with a rapidly changing landscape. It can also be a great source of advanced knowledge of impending problems; you will be forewarned and can prepare yourself accordingly.

Sadly, I have heard a member of the Competition Bureau say that she could not think of a single reason why a trade association would exist other than for anti-competitive reasons. I trust this opinion is not shared by the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. overseeing anti-trust matters. A position such as this shows a startling lack of knowledge of the benefits a proper trade association can provide. Fortunately the Bureau’s position is somewhat mollified as can be seen in their 2015 pamphlet “Trade Associations and the Competition Act”.

In complete contrast to the position taken by the Competition Bureau representative, trade associations provide a tremendous resource for small and medium businesses. Since the title of this blog is “The Beauty of Trade Associations,” I will use cosmetic trade associations as an example.

Industry data, trends, regulatory actions, scientific research, global information, international interaction, webinars, advocacy, trade shows, networking, mentoring and the availability of a multitude of group benefits are but some of the assistance provided to trade association members.

In the cosmetic industry where special interest groups seem to have the ear of the media, where every cosmetic ingredient is being touted as toxic and where it is easier for a journalist to be alarmist than to be investigative, a good trade association may be the only buffer a company has between itself and unfounded, unscientific and often illogical accusations.

When members trust their trade association, they are more willing to share scientific and proprietary data in an anonymous manner, which the association can collate into a sound, scientific and coherent response to the hysteria which arises from an unsubstantiated news article or an alleged hazard accusation based solely on junk science. A trade association can also be of incredible assistance in representing the industry in discussions with government, regulators and reputable interest groups who are prepared to listen to sound science and consider risk management. In short, the trade association can provide members with the knowledge and expertise to be their eyes, ears and voice for industry information, for advocacy with governments and regulators and as the industry spokesperson in a multitude of public situations.

The beauty of trade associations, as shown in the cosmetics industry, is that they provide an effective way of collecting industry expertise, sharing knowledge, unifying representation of common interests and voicing a credible position in a professional manner. This is done, not only at a cost that allows participation by small and medium sized businesses, but also in a manner which is compliant with the rules of fair competition and does not breach anti-trust provisions.

By way of information, we invite you to investigate the following:

For the professional industry and cosmetologists:

In Canada Allied Beauty Association

In the USA Professional Beauty Association

For retail and professional cosmetic manufacturers and distributors:

In Canada The Canadian Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association

In the USA Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors

Personal Care Products Council


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