Increasingly, they are looking for so much more, such as free-from or clean ingredient claims, how products can link to a healthy lifestyle and responsible packaging alternatives.
Despite the creation of the Natrue standard for natural and organic cosmetics in Europe and the Cosmos international standard, many brand owners use terms such as natural and organic to fit their purpose. For this reason, Kantar Worldpanel avoids using the word natural in its research surveys due to varying definitions of the term. Instead, by asking panelists about certain usage statements, such as whether they avoid products harmful to the environment, if they choose or prefer natural products and find them more effective, Kantar has come up with the term “natural mindedness.” In 2016, the Italians and French were most likely to think that way (77% and 75%, respectively), while the Germans and British were least likely to (58% and 55%, respectively). Overall, European women were more naturally-minded than men, peaking among Italian women at 81%.
According to Kantar Worldpanel, young people under 24 in Great Britain and Poland are the most naturally-minded consumers in Europe. By category, there is no particular bias in whether a consumer is naturally minded or not, apart from deodorants. Taking Great Britain as an example, users of antiperspirant spray tend to be less concerned about any natural properties, while a contact format is more likely to be used by naturally-minded users. This suggests that packaging is an important consideration for consumers when choosing natural attributes.
A Search for Meaning
Changing consumer lifestyles are impacting the growth of natural and organic cosmetics in Europe, where the market is expanding by 5-7% per annum, according to Ecovia Intelligence (formerly Organic Monitor). In Europe, Germany accounts for around a third of the $4.1 billion market and, together with France, UK and Italy, generates more than 70% of regional revenues.
According to Amarjit Sahota, founder and president, Ecovia Intelligence, having a clean label, or free-from claims, is a major trend in the cosmetics industry among a growing number of brands.
“These were initially paraben-free, phthalate-free, SLS-free, etc., representing the absence of synthetic chemicals with associated health risks,” he commented. “The trend has moved on to the absence of contentious ingredients, like gluten, palm oil and vegan; that is, no animal-based ingredients.”
Sahota contends that personal care is following the food industry where consumers are avoiding contentious ingredients for health or ethical reasons.
Recent 2017 research from GlobalData points to a more informed and more discerning European beauty consumer. This is evident in that 41% of European consumers say they pay a great amount of attention to the ingredients in the beauty and grooming products they buy.
“Informed shoppers are more conscious about the health impact of the ingredients in the products they use daily,” said Marilena Loparco, associate analyst at GlobalData. “Such awareness drives them to choose personal care products featuring ingredients perceived to be safer and more beneficial.”
Nearly half (48%) of European shoppers maintain that natural ingredients are a key factor in choosing one brand over another. However, organic claims hold less sway than natural, as evidenced in 57% of European consumers who actively buy beauty/grooming products with natural claims, against just 35% who feel the same about organic ones. Loparco believes that this trend has spurred brands to explore opportunities within the natural sector by prioritizing natural ingredients.
“And despite being a buzzword, the top two factors European consumers are most likely to associate with natural are being preservative-free and featuring real ingredients,” she affirms.
As a result, there are more food and drink ingredients associated with health appearing in personal care. For example, Vita Coco Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is an extension of All Market Inc.’s successful coconut water, which is capitalizing on its brand awareness in the beverage sector. It is made from raw and 100% organic coconut oil and positioned as a multipurpose product for “thirsty” hair and skin and can also be used as a lip balm, shaving cream or natural deodorant.
Water-less Personal Care
Water scarcity is an environmental issue affecting some Mediterranean countries, including Italy and Spain, which have experienced water rationing due to the extraordinary heatwave this summer. However, environmental and climate issues have yet to influence consumer choices, according to GlobalData research, which shows that only 23% of European consumers are interested and actively buy beauty/grooming products that are waterless or can be used without water.
According to Sahota, water measurement studies are very difficult to conduct so very few companies are looking at this aspect of sustainability. In contrast, Ecovia has recorded most companies looking at green formulations, packaging or reducing their carbon footprints. Some niche water-saving concepts are filtering through, such as Yves Rocher I Love My Planet, Concentrate Shower Gel, which is sold in a 100ml mini format bottle. It claims to be suitable for 40 showers with the same quantity as in a 400ml bottle.
“Like the ‘deodorant compressed’ concept, this packaging aims to protect the environment by reducing the quantity of plastic and features a cap said to deliver the adequate usage,” explained Loparco.
Ma Provence Powder shampoo, also from France, is an organic shampoo containing oat powder and natural clay in a sachet format to help consumers dose the product and avoid waste.
The waterless concept is still in its infancy but represents an opportunity for personal care manufacturers. Loparco sees their appeal moving beyond sustainability credentials, with efficacy benefits through concentrated, undiluted formulations as well as their suitability for on-the-go consumption and convenience.
Faced with a product with nebulous natural claims and one offering strong ethical credentials, European consumers will increasingly opt for the latter. Perhaps a new definition of natural/organic is needed.
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Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.