New Organic Monitor study assesses natural and organic cosmetic claims

New Organic Monitor study assesses natural and organic cosmetic claims

The Natural Cosmetics Brand Assessment study finds greenwashing and consumer confusion over marketing claims and false labels to be prevalent.

Mirror, mirror on the wall...who is the greenest of them all? This is the question many natural & organic cosmetic brands are asking themselves, with many believing they are deserved of the ‘green crown’.

Organic Monitor ( research finds the reality is very different from perception. In its Natural Cosmetics Brand Assessment report, a chartered chemist analysed the ingredient composition of cosmetic products of over 50 brands that make natural and / or organic claims.

The brands were given naturalness ratings according to their ingredient composition. Certified organic brands scored highest (9-10), followed by pure natural cosmetics (4-7), semi-natural cosmetics (3), naturally inspired cosmetics (2) to conventional cosmetics (1).

Not surprisingly, many brands making natural / organic claims had ratings at the low end of the spectrum. Some were brandishing their skin care products as organic just because the formulations contained organic essential oils. Others were putting organic certification logos on product packaging because one major ingredient was certified. Most were making natural claims just because some ingredients were natural.

Consumers are becoming lost in a maze of marketing claims and false labels. One way to clear up consumer confusion is certification. By adopting natural & organic cosmetic standards, formulators have a clear list of permitted / prohibited ingredients and processes. Certification also builds consumer trust, giving a guarantee to consumers that products conform to some recognised standards. However, Organic Monitor believes certification is only part of the answer; marketing and distribution also play an important role.

Pure natural & organic brands have realised that overstating natural / organic ingredients and making unsubstantiated marketing claims only adds to consumer distrust. A growing number of brands are moving away from such claims and marketing their products as ‘authentic’ and ‘sustainable’. Others are focusing on their brands long history and origins, implying they have not just jumped on the ‘natural bandwagon’.

With consumer trust vital to success in the naturals arena, concept stores are becoming fashionable. Leading brands – including Melvita, Neal's Yard Remedies and Weleda – are investing in concept stores. Apart from the benefits of interfacing direct with customers, the stores provide an ideal forum to educate consumers on their brand ethos, origins and product range.

Many years ago, The Body Shop set the standard in using concept stores as a platform for social activism. By focusing on marketing and distribution, Organic Monitor states the pioneering brands should now take the lead. Taking the right steps and clearing up the consumer confusion, only then can the natural & organic cosmetics story have a fairy tale ending.

Marketing and distribution innovations are a major theme of the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit (, taking place in Paris on 28-30th November 2011. As well as giving key findings of the Natural Cosmetics Brand Assessment study, the summit has a dedicated session on marketing and distribution. Topics include taking the direct route (concept stores), mainstream distribution, targeting the spa channel, retailers’ perspectives and reaching the green consumer.

Sustainable Cosmetics Summit

Organised by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is to encourage sustainability in the beauty industry by bringing together key stake-holders and debate major sustainability issues in a high-level forum. The European edition of the summit takes place in Paris on 28-30th November 2011. More information is available from


About Organic Monitor

Organic Monitor is a specialist research, consulting & training company that focuses on the global organic & related product industries. In 2011, we are celebrating 10 years of encouraging sustainable development. Since 2001, we have been providing a range of business services to operators in high-growth ethical & sustainable industries. Our services include market research publications, business & technical consulting, summits, seminars & workshops. Visit us at


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