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Consumers Look for Green and Ethics in Personal Care

July 14, 2008

When it comes to cosmetics and personal care products, consumers like green and they like ethical busi- ness practices, according to new data culled by market research firm Mintel.

The company latest reveals that the natural and organic personal care products market has grown 35% since 2005 to $465 million, and the number of ethical cosmetic and skin care product hitting store shelves in skyrocketing.

“As more people call out for natural alternatives, we’re seeing rapid growth in the numbers of natural and organic personal care products on the market,” said Christopher Haack, senior analyst at Mintel.

So who’s buying them? The appeal of natural and organic personal care products stretches to both men and women, but women are typically the main users, according to Mintel. In addition, Hispanics are seen as a growing market for natural and organic personal care; 74% of their total personal care product purchases were classified as being natural and organic, according to the firm.

Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows a 53% increase in new organic and/or all natural product launches in the past two years. Realizing the success of natural and organic products, large retail chains have begun to partner with natural and organic manufacturers to offer such products under an exclusive and limited time period. For example Walgreens teamed with Yes To Carrots brand and Target aligned with the Erbaviva line of products. (Target has just added another natural care line, this one geared for ethnic skin. See Marketing News, p. 30 in this issue.)

Other mainstream companies are utilizing natural ingredients in their brands and opting for certification to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Still others are differentiating themselves by promoting their ethical practices, such as supporting fair trade or charities, enlisting cruelty-free testing and using environmentally friendly packaging. Mintel’s GNPD Cosmetic Research shows that more than 2,800 ethical cosmetic and skin care products were launched in the U.S. last year. And in just the first five months of 2008, more than 1,800 new ethical beauty products have appeared on retail store shelves.

“Beauty manufacturers have tapped into natural and ethical claims as a way to differentiate their products,” comments Nica Lewis, senior analyst at Mintel.

“With green living a hot issue for many Americans, companies have begun to highlight their use of natural ingredients and environmentally friendly packaging.”

“Over the past 20 years, the no animal testing claim went from niche to mainstream, thanks to industry support,” said Ms. Lewis. Today, cruelty-free is the most widely made ethical claim in new U.S. beauty products, according to Mintel. In 2007, approximately 1,600 beauty and personal care products were introduced with a cruelty-free claim. According to Mintel’s consumer research, two in five American women said they look for beauty products that were not tested on animals.

According to Mintel, 12% of women cite recycled packaging as important to their beauty purchasing decision.

“Ethical packaging is currently more of a manufacturing issue, because it contributes to a brand’s total environmental image,” said Ms. Lewis. According to Mintel, manufacturers have released more than over 200 products with environmentally friendly packaging claims since the beginning of the year.

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