The Natural Skin Care Market

According to San Francisco, CA-bases SPINS, a research firm that tracks natural product velocities through scanning data, the natural skin care market represented 37% of total natural personal care sales in 2002 and grew at a rate of 18% over the previous year. This important market segment is comprised of soap and bath, spa, “cosmeceutical” and natural color cosmetic products, among many others, and represents a significant chunk of the growing natural personal care industry.

Most recently, the introduction of ingestible nutritional supplements that promote healthier skin has attracted much attention and will be a topic at the upcoming HBA show in New York City. Look for the expert panel on Tuesday, September 28th at 3:30pm, which I will be moderating and as well as offering a few strategic insights as a presenter along with the perennial market tracker, Datamonitor, and Europharma, a dominant player in this fledgling segment.

From Everyday to Prestige

Nearly everyone uses skin care products in some form, from soap and shaving cream to lotions and higher end skin care products targeted at alleviating and preventing certain skin conditions. It is becoming common knowledge that most mainstream petroleum-based products form a barrier on the skin and do not allow active ingredients to pass through the lipid barrier easily enough. Natural products intended for everyday use such as those offered by Aubrey, Jason and Kiss My Face, offer non-petroleum alternatives. Higher end, prestige “cosmeceuticals” products, whichfall somewhere between non-therapeutic “cosmetics and strictly regulated “drugs” and are marketed by brands such as Dr. Haushka, Borlind and Zia, provide pricier and possibly even more effective skin care options.

Speaking to the Men

Personal care products that are formulated for and specifically targeted toward the growing male market go well beyond targeting the personal care-obsessed “metrosexual” stereotype. Most men use shaving cream and soap, at the very least, but a growing segment of “every day guys”, are experimenting with body sprays, anti-aging crèmes, and a variety of other skin toning and rejuvenating products. The stigma of these products being more for women has abated dramatically in the last several years, as illustrated by the fact that over 25% of all spa users are now male. Home spa products have followed in the wake of that statistic with products positioned more toward fitness/masculinity and less toward “pampering”. GCI Magazine reports in 2004 that 41% of those who purchase spa products are men. In addition, men’s facial moisturizers are up 19% and now represent 26% of the men’s personal care market.

The natural market has been slow to offer these products and HAPPI Magazine reported that men’s personal care was a US$3.5 billion industry back in 2001. I expect that number is much higher today. Mainstream brands such as Nivea for Men, Anthony Logistics, Clarens Men, Neutrogena Men, and Gillette have responded in force. Who will be among the first movers to offer products that speak to men in the natural channels?

Fun in the Sun

One of the enduring trends in skin care is the inclusion of UV protectors and anti-oxidant ingredients in a wider variety of everyday skin care products such as face and body lotions. The market has indeed progressed beyond specific sunscreen products one would apply at the beach or pool. It is no secret that many synthetic ingredients actually exacerbate free radical damage by trapping and reflecting UV rays instead of mitigating their effects. UVA rays are less likely to cause sunburn, but will cause damage and UVB rays actually cause sunburn. Since skin cancer rates continue to rise at an alarming rate and the ozone layer doesn’t seem to be getting any thicker, expect that these products will continue to proliferate.

A Smooth Road Ahead

There are still so many opportunities to provide value to consumers in the form of multi-functional products for both women and men. The need in the marketplace continues to grow, and it is up to Industry to delight customers with their innovative and unique product offerings. After all, that is the prime directive for any marketer.

Darrin C. Duber-Smith, MS, MBA, is president of Green Marketing, a Colorado-based strategic planning firm offering marketing planning, marketing plan implementation, and other consulting services to natural products companies in all stages of growth. He has 15 years of specialized expertise in the natural products industry and is also assistant professor of marketing at the Metropolitan State College School of Business in Denver, CO, as well as executive director of the International Association of Natural Product Producers. He can be reached at [email protected].

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