Preservation is the draw, but maturation is absolutely critical for the success of nutricosmetics in the U.S. market. While the category is growing domestically (6.4 percent year over year, reaching sales of about $84 million last year), there's no doubt that the popularity of nutricosmetics in the U.S. pales in comparison to international markets such as Japan and Europe (most notably, France).
Defined as supplements that can help support skin, hair and nail health, nutricosmetics can come in a range of forms, from pills and beverages to chews, powders and more (and even beer?). But have they found their footing in the U.S.? Here are a few ways that the category is evolving domestically.
Learning from mistakes.
While the success of the global market can prove influential in encouraging U.S. brands to get in the game, American companies mirroring foreign nutricosmetics concepts have not been successful. The what-not-to-do of beauty beverages, Glowelle, sought to bring a vibrant international trend of beauty beverages but was overpriced, heavy on sugar and in a market that lacked wellness-education resources. (We're guessing the collagen beer recently launched in Asia would probably be a no-go for wellness-focused American consumers, too.)
Differentiating with quality.
When it comes to category viability in the U.S. and specifically the natural products industry—where nutricosmetics have seen the most growth over recent years—marketing and formulation, regulatory compliance and research-backed ingredients are critical. "[These] formulations will start differentiating themselves with proprietary ingredients which deliver measurable results," according to Doug Lynch, CEO of MarketWell Nutrition. Focusing on the most research-backed ingredients—and using dosages of them that can actually deliver results—is the place to start. Collagen is proving to be the darling of the nutricosmetics space, thanks to research supporting its skin-supportive prowess and its benefits for other age-related issues around joints, ligaments and bones.
Delivering on delivery.
Delivery systems is another place wide open for innovation. But tapping global efforts once again may not be the way to go. While cookies, chocolates and sweet beverages (and, most recently, a collagen-infused beer) that have hit retail internationally may sound appealing, they also have created a barrier to acceptance of these products, especially to a health-conscious consumer. "With improved manufacturing technologies, nutricosmetics can be offered in many forms from liquids, chewables, powders and pill form," said nutricosmetics expert Paula Simpson.
Whatever the delivery, ensuring that the ingredients are pure is critical, as is appealing to an active, fit, on-the-go consumer, noted Randi Brody, co-President at brand strategy firm Trajectory.
Becoming a lifestyle.
Regardless of how advanced the science or palatable the delivery, positioning nutricosmetics exclusively as "beauty supplements" may not always be the right approach. Aging isn't just about how you look; it's about how you feel, more consumers are realizing. By using ingredients that can help consumers thrive physically while looking their best, nutricosmetics may have a more far-reaching appeal. Antiaging "is turning to 'healthy aging,'" said Simpson. "We are integrating how we live and what we consume and how it affects our overall health, vitality and appearance.” Beyond the formulations themselves, companies taking an overall healthy lifestyle approach to their marketing may also have an edge.