Natural Foods Merchandiser

Natural beauty sales slide but not too far

Although sales for natural beauty products took a dip last year, conventional beauty products saw an even greater margin loss.

Overall, the naturals beauty category slid 0.2 percent from $283.1 to $282.6 million in the 52-week period between December 2008 and 2009. Conventional beauty products sank 0.7 percent from $482 to $478.6 million for the same period, according Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research firm SPINS.

“Consumers are becoming more educated about the harmful effects of common ingredients found in many body care products,” says Kerry Watson, SPINS product library manager. “The brands and products found in the natural channel have always been focused on providing safe, effective and truly natural products.”

Even so, the category of body care kit sets and travel packs was the hardest hit in both sectors. Naturals sales in the category dropped by 17 percent from $2.3 to $1.9 million and conventional sales saw a 40 percent loss from $15.9 to $9.5 million.

“Less travel and vacationing was an unfortunate result of the economic troubles Americans faced last year,” Watson says. “This has served to fuel a downward trend in the sales of body care travel sets. Additionally, gift giving was down last year as many consumers focused on deeply discounted electronics which in turn caused a further blow to body care gift set sales.”

News was not all bad, however. Despite a tough market, sales for hair products increased in both the naturals and conventional sectors, up 0.4 and 19 percent, respectively. Rather than heading to the salon, consumers may have opted for do-it-yourself treatments to save money, Watson says.

Other naturals categories to see growth included aromatherapy and body oils up 8.1 percent from $23.6 to $25.5 million, soap and bath preparations up 1.3 percent from $44.8 to $45.4 million and deodorants and antiperspirants up 0.8 percent from $11.4 to $11.5 million.

“Consumers who once bought their body care products from conventional stores are crossing over into the natural channel where they feel safe to trust in natural product claims and make purchases that promise to protect them from potentially harmful substances,” Watson says.

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