The saying goes that our choice of one brand over another in the same sector is driven by our emotions. We buy with our hearts not our heads, so branding theory goes. However, when it comes to natural organic skincare brands, I believe that consumers are very consciously using their heads, discovering for themselves the real brand backstories and double checking brands’ credentials before buying.
Green, natural, organic, cruelty-free, environmentally-friendly, ethical, Fair Trade, sustainable and a tonne of other adjectives are now becoming more mainstream on beauty and personal care shelves, and par for the course even on supermarket shelves these days. But as there is little set in stone regarding the definitions and use of these terms, let alone firm legislation on the use of these words on labeling, consumers need to use their savvy to suss out the serious brands from those leaping on the all-natural, organic skincare brand bandwagon.
EU Cosmetics Regulation has helped immensely in ensuring our health and safety is protected in our use of personal care and beauty products, but there is no law covering point blank what a word like ‘natural’ means on such products. One could argue that even totally nasty-free skincare products aren’t strictly speaking natural as the seed oils and essential oils in them have of course undergone processes and aren’t 100 per cent how they were in situ in the original plants. Opting for all natural skincare, and often seeking out organic brands in that niche too, still takes some homework and a lot of reading of the small print on the back of packets.
While we still need to be circumspect in how we choose our all natural skincare brands, it’s clear that the niche is no longer going to be niche. Earlier this week, leading research house Persistence Market Research published forecasts of the global natural and organic personal care products market growing from end 2016 estimates of US$ 11,057.1 Mn to US$ 21,776.9 Mn by the end of 2024. This is super fast growth; in fact, a doubling of that market in the space of eight years.
What drives the natural organic skincare brand market?
Well, first and foremost, people like you and me! When mainstream regular beauty and personal care brands – and celebrities (like Kate Middleton’s beautician and Gwyneth Paltrow) start muscling in on what was the preserve of artisan producers, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ve spotted a trend to cash in on. The last few years, thanks of course to individuals’ consumer power fulled by the Internet, there’s been a rise in consumers making purchasing decisions based on ethical and sustainable considerations. Larger, previously mainstream brands are keen to show their green, ethical and sustainable credentials from source to shop, field to fork or field to face (in the case of beauty products). Those who don’t are less in favour, especially with millennials.
The market has listened to consumers but just as it takes a while for an oil tanker to turn, it’s taken a while for distribution channels to play catch up. Finally, we are now seeing natural, organic skincare brands on the high street, in chain stores and supermarkets. Of all the various niches within personal care and beauty, natural skincare is set to show the biggest growth.
According to the research house’s report, “…the skin care segment is expected to emerge the most attractive with 30.9% share by 2024…”. The growth is forecast to be driven mainly by increased consumer demand for clean label products as well as awareness of health issues. And what’s interesting, is that consumers know that to go greener and healthier in their personal care product choices will mean paying premium prices. There’s no getting away from the fact that pumping personal care products with nasties is cheaper than sourcing ethical and clean, green raw ingredients.
Where next with artisan, niche organic skincare brands?
So, what does this mean for smaller, artisan natural organic skincare brands, like AlchemyduCorps, if the once niche is going mainstream? The good news is that growth for all means growth for each bona fide brand in the sector. What I feel will be the determining factors are the backstories and ethical foundations of brands. Those that have been fostered and founded from the outset with passion and true care for all aspects of the chain from field to face will have their place not just in the hearts, but importantly in the minds of their customers. Savvy and more demanding consumers, will still do their own homework on what constitutes an all-natural, organic skincare brand to their mind. While we all embrace the growth in this once niche market, we’d do well to dig deep and under the surface of this trend.