Consumers are becoming a lot more fussy about the products they put on their skin and hair, and that’s expanding demand for mineral makeup and a host of other alternative formulations.
By Imogen Matthews
Consultant to In-Cosmetics
Consumers use cosmetics and toiletries as much for well-being as for beauty benefits and are exploring new product concepts that promise to beautify from within. Nutricosmetics is a relatively new category that has emerged from the intersection of nutrition and beauty.
“With the West’s expanding acceptance of holistic treatments, the growth of this trend signifies another phase in the quest for youthful looks despite the inevitability of aging,” explained Carrie Mellage, director, consumer products, Kline & Company.
According to Diana Dodson, senior industry analyst for cosmetics and toiletries, Euromonitor International, consumers are expecting better results than can be achieved through the use of topical beauty products alone.
“Consumers understand the links between nutrition, health/wellbeing and beauty and I think they are increasingly realizing that the foundation of any beauty regime should be good nutrition,” she maintains.
Kline & Company puts the global nutricosmetics market at $1.5 billion compared to $168 billion for the total cosmetics and toiletries industry. However, the development of the category has not been the same throughout the world. Japan and Europe lead the way, while U.S. consumers’ innate skepticism has meant that nutricosmetic sales have been slow to take off in the States. Mintel’s head of cosmetics research, Nica Lewis, agrees that Japan is the most developed market for nutricosmetics, but points out that the market has been less well received in France.
“Several factors have been holding back the market, including indifference, skepticism, perception that consumers don’t need vitamins and limited distribution,” said Ms. Lewis. “The problem with oral supplements is that people take them on faith as it is hard to see that they are working. With exfoliators and serums, they are more likely to see a result.”
Growth in Asia
Consumers in the Asia Pacific region, and especially Japan, have long been aware of the role that food, drinks and dietary supplements, especially nutritive tonics, play in health, wellness and beauty.
“Their receptiveness to this concept has opened the way for an innovative nutricosmetics market crowded with products so novel that they struggle to find credibility beyond Japan,” said Ms. Dodson.
Examples include Nissin Food Products collagen-enriched soup, Shiseido’s pureWhite skin whitening drink and Fuwarinka edible fragrance candy that claims to release a vanilla scent via the sweat glands. But when Japanese confectioner Eiwa brought collagen-filled marshmallows to the UK in 2006, they did receive considerable media attention, but consumers were less than impressed.
An area where the nutricosmetics concept may gain ground is in the area of beauty foods, particularly in dairy. This is the focus of some of the big food multinationals. For example, French dairy brand Danone has launched a vitamin-fortified yogurt called Danone Essensis, which is to be used together with a regular skin care regime to help look after the skin from within. Initially, the brand launched in the cosmetics department of Printemps before rolling out to supermarkets.
“Yogurt has many known health benefits, but now it is continuing to gain ground for its beauty benefits,” explains Mintel’s Nica Lewis. “The active live cultures are responsible for most of the benefits and eating yogurt has been shown to support digestive health, improving immune system functioning and preventing imbalances in the body’s yeast levels. More recently, yogurt has also been linked to promoting healthy skin and hair.”
The partnering of Coca-Cola and L’Oréal to produce a tea-based skin care drink called Lumaé may be another appropriate route into the nutricosmetics market. Due to debut in 2008, Lumaé may first be distributed in upscale cosmetic retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue rather than the usual soft drinks channels.
GABA is an ingredient used extensively in skin care products for its line-reducing capabilities and is also finding its way into beauty drinks. Coco-Cola has launched Aquarius Sharp Charge drink in Japan, which contains GABA. Mintel has also noted GABA used as a functional food ingredient in its Cosmetics Research GNPD. These include a nutritional supplement positioned for stress relief and relaxation called GABA Lina S from Dai Nippon Ink, and Ezaki Glico’s GABA Super Bitter chocolates. Ms. Lewis insists that GABA’s high familiarity in Japan is similar to how Omega 3 is perceived in the West. “Given burgeoning development in beauty foods and cosmeceuticals, there’s opportunity for GABA to tap into well-being and relaxation, not just its anti-wrinkle claims,” she said.
The herb Glycyrrihiza, commonly known as licorice, is appearing more frequently in skin care products, according to Mintel, with most new product launches seen in the U.S., France and Japan. Licorice has been used as a lightening and smoothing ingredient in skin care since the 1990s when Japanese scientists isolated certain compounds. Mintel has also identified ginger as a key ingredient in radiance and anti-cellulite products, used mainly for its warming effect to soothe and relax.
Looking to the future, new beauty food formats will include cereals, fruit juices and confectionary, according to the Euromonitor analyst.
“Nutricosmetics are expected to become more sophisticated in their market positioning, targeting a wider range of select consumer groups,” explained Ms. Dodson. “Besides segmenting the market by age and gender, ethnic-specific products, catering to the unique qualities of skin and hair of different ethnic groups, could also be an area for development.”
However, there is the threat of regulation that could restrict manufacturers in the beauty claims they can make, similar to the way health claims are controlled. Ms. Dodson insists that nutricosmetics must find their way out of the health food sector and into mainstream supermarkets if they are to have a wider retail platform.