Fear of synthetic chemicals spurs natural & organic personal care sales

A new Consumer Insights report by Organic Monitor reveals the major trigger for consumers to switch to natural & organic products is health concerns.

Growing consumer concerns about synthetic chemicals in cosmetics & toiletries is driving growth in the natural & organic personal care products market. A new Consumer Insights report by Organic Monitor (www.organicmonitor.com) reveals the major trigger for consumers to switch to natural & organic products is health concerns.

Ninety-percent of UK buyers of natural & organic personal care products said ‘avoidance of synthetic chemicals’ was important or very important to them. When asked to name specific chemicals they look to avoid, almost two-thirds of buyers stated parabens. Compared to the previous study in 2007, awareness of synthetic chemicals has increased significantly. For instance, the survey showed 19% of buyers wished to avoid phthalates and lanolin, compared to just 3% in 2007.

Certification is becoming more important to consumers. Forty-three percent of buyers said they look for symbols & logos on personal care products, up from 33% in 2007. The Soil Association logo is the most associated with certified products, with almost 30% of buyers looking for the SA logo. Highlighting the confusion about natural / organic terms and certification, 21% of buyers said they look for the Fairtrade symbol. The Fairtrade symbol represents the presence of certified Fairtrade ingredients, but it does not represent certified finished products.

All consumers surveyed said they are willing to pay extra for certified products. The majority, 72%, stated they would pay up to 20% more for certified products. Just 12% of buyers would be willing to pay a premium above 30%.

The research showed changes in buyer behaviour since 2007. Although the number of brands has mushroomed in the UK, established brands comprise most sales in every product category. Weleda, Dr. Haushcka and Jason Natural are some of the leading brands.

Digital communications are having a major influence on consumers. The Internet is now the prime source of information on natural & organic personal care products, overtaking friends & family. In 2007, a quarter of consumers said they heard about such products from ‘word of mouth’. Thirty-five percent now get information from hand-held devices, mobile phones and personal computers.

The 2nd edition of this Consumer Insights study was produced by doing personal interviews with buyers of natural & organic personal care products in the UK. As well as detailed information on consumer behaviour, recommendations are given to brand owners and retailers. Brands are encouraged to focus on product labelling and marketing communications to educate consumers. Social media is encouraged, especially because of its growing prominence.

Consumer behaviour is a focal theme of the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, taking place in Paris on 24-26th November. Key findings of this new research study will be presented for the first time at the summit.

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