Marketing Organic Personal Care Products With Precision

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By 2016 the organic personal care sector is expected to reach over $11 billion in global sales, according to Organic Monitor and Mintel Research.  Why the vast growth?

Consumers Seek Healthier, Environmentally Friendly Options

The organic and natural personal care market continues to flourish as consumers seek out products that are deemed to be more natural and environmentally friendly – reflecting aspirations for better personal health and growing consumer awareness about the hazards of synthetic chemicals.  The cause for concern –  60-70% of the products we put on our skin are absorbed, and most contain chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, and aluminum salts that are not only bad for us, but the environment.

Meeting Consumer Demand, Building Trust

After several years of challenges, including misuse of the term “organic” in brand names and product labels, things are taking off again thanks to new retail policies, formulation advancements, and product regulations.  Manufacturers are responding to consumer demand as we continue to see many startup companies and established category players moving into this sector – and skincare is leading the way with a 32% market share, followed by hair and color cosmetics.

So what should brand marketers consider when entering the organic personal care sector?

• Seal the deal.  Consumer trust is essential if you want your product to be part of the consideration set – over 50% of safety minded consumers want to see independent certification marks on organic products.  And, they’re not alone as retailers are taking a stance.  For example, Whole Foods Market implemented its organic personal care policy in September 2012, requiring brands making organic claims to obtain USDA Organic or NSF/ANSI 305 certifications. As a result, companies wanting to sell at Whole Foods had to either drop organic or become certified.

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With this, brands have begun to take different approaches to certifying their products – it’s not a one-size, fits-all approach:

– Nourish Organic and classic Dr. Bronner are leading the way, providing body care that meets the same USDA Organic standard as food, using exclusively agricultural ingredients.

– And others, such as Pangea, aren’t choosing just one certification – they are certifying different products to the appropriate label, a growing trend we see in the industry.

• Clinically validated organics.  The science behind the brand has become more critical.  Looking beyond the seal, personal care manufacturers are creating higher-performance products that are backed by clinical research giving them the ability to make active claims –again, reinforcing consumer trust and market buy-in.  Juicy Beauty is one good example of a skincare and beauty brand that touts their clinically validated products.

• Packaging true to brand values.  As organic products continue to multiply and become more upscale, brands are using package graphics, structures and materials to differentiate from both conventional products and their organic/natural counterparts.  Ample consideration is being given to consumer preference for packaging that stays “true” to core organic values (as revealed in a recent EcoFocus Worldwide survey) – over 73% of natural and organic shoppers try to buy products in packaging that’s refillable or reusable, and 78% try to buy products in recyclable packaging.

• Alternative Distribution Channels. Up until recently, it would have been unheard of for a distributor like Vitamin World to have luxury personal care products such as Organic Doctor on their shelves.  But times have changed, and for the better.  Distributors are taking a broader approach to health and wellness and are stocking their shelves to support their customers overall lifestyle needs.

Lessons Learned

Organic/natural leaning consumers have become evermore sophisticated, and understanding their need for brands that demonstrate transparency and integrity is key. They are looking for straightforward, honest answers from their brands, and can easily see through a brand fabricating a story vs. telling a true brand story.  Following these basic, but important principles will help your brand get the attention and following it deserves…and possibly the shelf space too!