The trend for natural beauty products is well established across the world as growing numbers of consumers reject chemical-laden formulations in favour of alternatives perceived to be better for them and the environment. The pursuit of a healthy lifestyle is also helping to fuel the trend. However, many consumers remain confused over what constitutes a natural beauty product.
According to Ecovia Intelligence, the global market for natural and organic personal care products was worth $9.6bn in 2016, rising by just under $1bn per annum. Between them, Europe and North America account for 90% of all sales and continue to show the highest growth in terms of sale value. By contrast, Asia is the fastest growing in terms of percentages, with many countries, including China and India reporting double digit growth.
What does natural mean – by region?
GlobalData’s 2016 primary consumer research shows that global interest and engagement in beauty and grooming products making natural claims is high. However, interpretation of what natural means differs by region. For example, in Asia and North America natural means “real ingredients” above all else. “The incorporation of ingredients that consumers perceive to be untampered with and non-artificial is therefore essential,” comments, Lia Neophytou, associate analyst, Global Data. In South America and Europe, “natural” primarily means “preservative free”, while “free from synthetic ingredients” and “real ingredients” also rank highly. “This highlights ‘free-from’ and avoidance claims which resonate most with consumers in these markets,” states Neophytou, pointing out that consumers consider “natural” to be about rejecting unfamiliar, synthetic ingredients in favour of ones that are “real”.
Surprisingly, “ethical/sustainable production methods” is the attribute ranked lowest by GlobalData’s global respondents in communicating the concept of natural. Yet, sustainability is a major trend in the natural and organic beauty industry, according to Ecovia Intelligence, which has seen brands going beyond developing natural or organic formulations by adopting various green initiatives. Neal’s Yard Remedies is a pioneer in this respect and the first major organic cosmetics brand in the UK. The company was one of the first to adopt the Soil Association organic beauty standard. “It has invested considerably in sustainable sourcing projects and was the first high street retailer to become Carbon Neutral,” comments Amarjit Sahota, founder and president, Ecovia Intelligence. “Neal’s Yard Remedies received the Sustainable Ingredient Award at our 2017 Sustainability Beauty Awards for its Frankincense Boswellia Sacra Resin Extract.” This new anti-ageing organic skincare ingredient is made from waste material – spent resin from the distillation of frankincense essential oils in Oman. According to Sahota, it pipped established ingredient firms like Inolex, Merck and AAK with green ingredients.
Glasgow-based Beauty Kitchen, a natural beauty brand, has put sustainability at the heart of its Seahorse Plankton face and bodycare range. “I’m always looking for new, effective, 100% sustainable ingredients and the plankton microalgae are as magical as the tiny seahorses that eat it,” explains Jo Chidley, founder, Beauty Kitchen. “Microalgae are the lungs of the earth producing 50% of the oxygen we breathe, and also boast the unique ability to protect themselves from environmental stresses, making it the perfect skincare ingredient.”
Natural claims equate to health
Health-conscious consumers are drawn to beauty products claiming to be natural, organic and fresh, reflecting the shift towards “clean label” products. According to GlobalData, products created with natural formulations and that make use of ingredients that are easily recognisable on labels are considered more trustworthy or “safe” compared to conventional ones, while organic claims appeal to people wanting to avoid chemicals. “There is also a heightened perception of efficacy associated with these products,” points out Neophytou, “and has paved the way for the emergence of natural products with a premium positioning, attracting the quality-focused consumer who is prepared to trade up to products viewed as fashion-forward, luxurious and that enhance wellbeing.”
Although not a major trend yet in natural and organic cosmetics, Scandi or Nordic beauty brands have the potential to appeal to health-conscious consumers. Ecovia Intelligence is recording more companies using Nordic ingredients.
• Urtekam is the leading brand of organic cosmetics in the Nordic region and has a Nordic berries range containing cloud berries, cranberries and blueberries.
• Swedish botanical skincare and perfume company, Björk & Berries combines centuries-old Swedish natural beauty traditions based on local wild herbs, plants and berries with advanced technology to create effective modern beauty products. Ingredients include birch leaf extract, water and bark powder which is said to be cleansing as well as healing, hydrating and nourishing.
• Finnish brand, Lumene, uses 80% natural ingredients and Lumene Arctic Spa Lotion contains Nordic cotton extract and shea butter to seal in moisture.
Future trends in natural beauty
The natural beauty trends of the future will stem from consumers’ increasingly holistic understanding of health and wellness, predicts Neophytou. “Perceptions surrounding what constitutes a healthy lifestyle are expanding and catalysing innovation across the beauty and grooming industry,” she states. In particular, there will be more transference of food and beverage ingredients with healthy “halos” fueling the perception that what is good for you internally must also bring benefits when applied to the skin.
Informed and engaged consumers will seek out responsible, yet effective beauty solutions. One approach will be the use of plant-based food waste, said to be rich in natural polyphenol-rich anti-oxidants, antimicrobial and anti-ageing compounds. For example, spent coffee grounds are said to be effective as natural exfoliators in skincare. The incorporation of green materials from food waste in cosmetics will become an important method for brands to improve their sustainability credentials and to engage younger consumers.
Finally, customisation and DIY beauty will become another way to get consumers more engaged in natural beauty. “Understanding what is and isn’t natural is a daunting labyrinth for consumers,” maintains Chidley. “DIY beauty can be the first step to demystify beauty products, giving consumers the confidence that they need not be complicated and they can get involved, forcing the market to become more transparent and sustainable.”
GlobalData, Ecovia Intelligence and Beauty Kitchen presented at the Marketing Trends presentations at in-cosmetics Global, 17-19 April 2018.