Natural Foods Merchandiser

Facing Up to Reality

You've heard how organic personal care is a supertrend that's faster than a speeding free radical, more powerful than a 24-hour deodorant and able to leap tall profit margins in a single bound.

But what about the other trends? Are they just wimpy wannabes to the superhero that is organic personal care?

Not at all. There are increasing numbers of consumers who turn to their natural foods retailers to save the day and fulfill their specialized health and beauty care needs. These consumer pressures create supertrends just as powerful as the demand for organics. Here's a look at the biggest trends and how manufacturers are addressing them.

  • Sales of anti-aging products reached $6.7 billion in 2001 and could soar to $8.7 billion by 2006.
    Anti-aging products. Worrying about wrinkles is not only causing crow's feet, it's also driving female baby boomers to buy skin care products designed to make them look younger. Norwalk, Conn.-based market researcher Business Communications Co. says sales of anti-aging products reached $6.7 billion in 2001 and could soar to $8.7 billion by 2006.

    68 percent of baby boomers are most concerned about wrinkles around the eyes.
    According to the 1999 Wrinkle Report prepared by market researcher Harris Interactive, 68 percent of baby boomers are most concerned about wrinkles around the eyes, followed by wrinkles on the forehead and around the mouth. Not only that, but women aged 30 to 50 believe "people should do whatever they wish to slow down the signs of aging," the report states. Sixteen percent of the 1,200 women surveyed believe moisturizers can prevent wrinkles; another 6 percent opt for wrinkle cream.

    Naturals companies are becoming as aggressive as mainstream personal care manufacturers in developing products to target aging baby boomers. Tom's of Maine recently introduced a toothpaste that can be used by those who have dry mouth from taking medications. But it's the skin care companies that are leading the anti-aging trend, focusing on products designed to minimize wrinkles.

    Desert Essence, a division of Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Country Life, debuted its Age Reversal skin care line earlier this year. The line, which includes a cleanser, moisturizer, eye cream and anti-aging serum, is "an alternative to Botox injections," says formulator David Pollock.

    Age Reversal features a delivery system that mimics the lipid structure that surrounds the skin, allowing ingredients to be easily absorbed. Those ingredients include a group of moisturizing amino acids, Pollock says.

    He predicts that, like mainstream companies, naturals manufacturers will become more interested in science-based anti-aging lines. "In the naturals side, everyone thought the essential oils and botanicals were all you needed, and they shied away from scientific advances, even though they may be natural," he said. "A lot of naturals companies rely on folklore [to reverse aging]."

    Just how hot is the organic personal care trend? The Natural Marketing Institute estimates the U.S. target market for organic personal care products at 57 million people, or 20 percent of the population. According to NMI's 2003 Understanding the LOHAS Consumer database survey, 34 percent of the general population purchased natural skin care products in the last six months, compared to 15.5 percent who bought organic skin care. Almost 33 percent reported that they bought natural hair care products in the last six months, while 17 percent purchased organic hair care items.

    One of those companies is Burt's Bees, which includes what President Roxanne Quimby calls "very old herbs, used by women, that have a long history of treatment for skin and kind of evoke a sort of simpler time" in its Healthy Treatment skin care line. Ingredients include parsley, which cleanses; rose hip seed oil, which helps reduce scars; evening primrose oil, which moisturizes with omega-6 fatty acids; and marshmallow, which soothes inflammation.

    The year-old Healthy Treatment line, which is targeted to women in their 40s and 50s, has eight items, and some are already top-10 sellers for the company. Quimby believes one reason the line sells well is because "my generation of women—age 40 to 55—are much more open to alternatives. They're not just interested in department store brands like our mothers were."

    Jason Natural Cosmetics recently introduced its Sea Results anti-aging line featuring seaweed and algae. According to Jason founder and Chairman Jeffrey Light, seaweed has anti-aging properties because it's made up of a network of elastic fibers similar to elastin fibers in the skin, it absorbs minerals and vitamins from seawater, and it has cell-regenerating characteristics.

    The four-product Sea Results moisturizer line is targeted specifically to baby boomers and includes antioxidants, such as lycopene, sea buckthorn oil, and vitamins A, C and E, that fight free radicals that contribute to the aging process.

  • Men's products accounted for $4 billion of the $33.5 billion U.S. personal care market.
    Men's products. In 2001, men's products accounted for $4 billion of the $33.5 billion U.S. personal care market, according to Datamonitor. And that means more than just shaving products. "The success of lines like [Calvin Klein's] CK One show that there is a man out there who wants more personal care items than his dad has," Quimby says.

    Mintel Consumer Intelligence reports that 35 percent of men aged 18 to 34 use hair gels, mousse and other styling products, while between 6 percent and 11 percent of men aged 18 to 54 use hair-coloring products.

    Statistics like that are why Burt's Bees is updating its "little bit boring, little bit predictable" men's bay rum shaving and cologne line. "The new rollout of the men's line is all about the new-age man with a certain type of masculinity. We just have to make it OK and safe for him to buy something like tinted moisturizer that could be used as a bronzer," Quimby says.

    The new line, which won't be launched for at least a year, will feature nonthreatening packaging with pictures of what Quimby calls either a "younger, hipper guy than Burt, or maybe a man and woman together—something sort of genderless to break down that barrier" of men afraid to use products that seem too girly.

    Tampa, Fla.-based Aubrey Organics confronted that barrier 15 years ago when it introduced its eight-product Men's Stock line that includes nontraditional items like ginseng shampoo and hair spray, biotin conditioner and a face cream and scrub. But the most popular sellers are the tried-and-true men's care items such as deodorant, shaving cream and aftershave, says Aubrey product consultant Sandie Coretti.

    The line will undergo a facelift within the next year to better target younger men. With its outdated typefaces and packaging, it now appeals to customers who are 50 or older, Coretti says.

    Other types of traditional men's care products are also going high tech. "We thought the shaving experience could and should be a whole lot more," says Jack Hakanson, president of Hoke2, a Campbell, Calif.-based company that makes organic shaving creams and razors that have won design awards.

  • Functional products. Consumers are looking for personal care products that help them look good from the inside out, says Joe Marra, executive director of the Natural Marketing Institute in Harleysville, Pa. "People generally understand the stuff they put on their bodies is as important as what they put in it."

    NMI surveys show consumers are snatching up personal care products that contain cancer-fighting antioxidant ingredients such as lutein and vitamins C, E and A. They want shampoos with vitamin K to prevent hair loss. They choose lotions with lecithin to promote skin suppleness. They opt for creams with glucosamine to smooth out wrinkles.

    Other ingredients more commonly found in supplements that are popular in personal care products include echinacea, ginkgo, saw palmetto and zinc, says Patricia Singh, senior director of sales for Bio-Botanica, a botanical supplier in Hauppauge, N.Y. Echinacea is an anti-inflammatory that can build collagen, ginkgo increases circulation and attacks free radicals, saw palmetto promotes hair growth, and saw palmetto combined with zinc treats acne, she says. "People are looking for more effective products" and botanicals deliver that effectiveness, she notes.

  • Youth-oriented products. Established personal care lines like Aubrey and Burt's Bees rely on customers who have used their products since the companies were founded. The problem is that the core customer base is aging. Consequently, the pioneer naturals companies are going after the 18-to-24-year-old age group in an attempt to infuse freshness into their marketing schemes, while the newer manufacturers are adding teen-tempting ingredients, such as glitter, to their products. Boca Raton, Fla.-based No Miss Nail Products uses natural metals in its glitter polishes, and sand-based micas for color.

    Quimby admits that Gen-Yers frequently aren't Burt's Bees customers. But she says, "If we don't target that age group, they're not going to grow up with any loyalty to our products." So Burt's Bee's manufactures a tomato soap and toner and is developing a tomato moisturizing cream. Tomato-based products are high in acid and target oily and acne-prone skin, Quimby says. Burt's Bee's also makes a blemish stick containing tea tree oil and willow bark disinfectants.

    Aubrey is focusing on teenagers' product knowledge. "The fact is that this MTV- and Teen Vogue-driven generation that we're living with is the most informed, and hence beauty-savviest ever," says spokeswoman Andrea Bermudez. Coretti points out that today's teens have "mentors that are walking proof of what happens when you don't use the right stuff. They're educating themselves about things like skin cancer. Older generations weren't as concerned because that kind of information wasn't available to them at that time."

    Aubrey introduced Ultimate Moist earlier this year. The teen-oriented hand and body lotions contain what Bermudez calls "youthful essential oil fragrances"—green tea, rosemary, mint and passionflower.

Vicky Uhland is a Denver-based writer and editor. She may be reached at [email protected].

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 8/34, 37

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