Today a growing number of consumers across the world are rejecting chemical-filled skincare products and cosmetics for pricey, plant-based and seemingly fewer toxic alternatives. It is a thriving sector—one that some experts think could change the beauty industry for good.
If figures are anything to go by, global reports show 8 to 10 percent per year-on-year growth in the organic beauty segment, with the global market estimated to be worth just under US$22 billion by 2024.
In the west, many safer and more natural brands are outselling their traditional competitors. Closer home in Asia, we’re seeing a rise in home grown brands that are selling natural alternatives along with a return to traditional recipes and methods.
Natural beauty products are no longer limited to the unglamorous corner of the natural foods store. Ultra-chic and totally clean skin-care and cosmetic brands are increasingly popping up everywhere, from online natural beauty retailers to indie boutiques and even large-scale retailers like Sephora.
Many people are moving towards a more natural and feel-good way of life.
People want non-toxic products and now take the time to understand what is in the product they use and how detrimental it can be to their health. This organic beauty boom is part of the larger recent shift in consumer awareness about health, wellness and the environment. Thanks to a growing number of beauty blogs and social media accounts dedicated to the benefits of going chemical-free, consumers have access to more information than ever before.
There is increasing evidence that certain ingredients in personal care products are linked to a range of health concerns, ranging from reproductive issues, such as fertility problems and miscarriage, to cancer.
One of the key contributors to this movement is a push against our crazily fast-paced lifestyles. Organic beauty products are seen as a gentler, kinder alternative to the trend for harsh and invasive aesthetic fixes that promise immediate results – like instant whitening, Botox and fillers.
As consumers now place more value on health, safety and authenticity and look for more meaningful experiences, many are beginning to steer away from mass consumption. There is a greater concern for safety and quality in ingredients and the manufacturing process.
For the beauty industry, it has meant an acceleration in the natural and organic ‘free from formulations’ trend, and many brands are reducing or replacing artificial ingredients with natural alternatives.
Asian consumers are increasingly seeing beauty products as part of their wider, more holistic physical and mental well-being and products with less chemicals and toxins are becoming more attractive. Consumers react positively to claims that cue in natural and gentle brand claims such as ‘enriched with plant extracts’, ‘free from chemicals’ and ‘formulated without parabens’.
Consumers in urban Asia are experiencing first hand, the rapid changes occurring in the environment. Their surroundings are increasingly crowded, air pollution is rising and there is greater awareness about how food, water and other products they use on a daily basis can be contaminated with harmful chemicals, pesticide and pollutants.
Consumers speak of a lack of control, not just over the environment around them, but also over the purity and safety of the products they use. Using safer, greener alternatives is a way that consumers seek to exercise some control over their health and well-being. Natural products don’t need to position themselves as “more effective” to win with consumers—natural is often enough.
This is where ingredient innovation can play a big role. Historically, the natural plant-based philosophy is deeply entrenched in many Asian cultures where age-old beauty recipes still hold a lot of respect. If brands can tap into these principles and the appreciation for simple, natural ingredients the ‘green beauty’ sector will continue to thrive.
(Urvi Parikh is the insights & strategy lead at Quantum Consumer Solutions.)