Developments in the Natural Hair Care Market

Developments in the Natural Hair Care Market

The $4.6 billion U.S. natural personal care market (NBJ) continues to grow at double-digit rates. Driven by the health and wellness trend, this area is by far the fastest growing area of personal care. According to San Francisco, CA-based Spence Information Services (SPINS), the hair care segment of the natural personal care market is growing at a rate of 17% annually and represents 15% of natural personal care total sales, compared with 37% for skin care.

Everyone uses hair care products of some kind. The category includes shampoos, conditioners, hair colorants, styling products, straighteners, treatments, and others. Product developers and marketers must closely eye the consumer for valuable clues guiding the positioning and development of a particular brand.

Ethnic Markets

Ethnic consumers afford marketers with an excellent opportunity to position products toward specified targets. For example, many African American consumers, specifically women, tend to want products that straighten the hair so it can become more manageable. Many Hispanics tend to desire thicker, curlier hair, and Asian hair tends to be resistant to styling because it retains moisture and is thick and straight. Products that are positioned to meet these needs and that speak to the consumer segment in a customized manner tend to do very well. Botanicals suppliers are a major player in this area, as many “exotic” botanical ingredients provide the benefits consumers are looking for.

Men’s Hair Care

It is no secret that men use personal care products. What has eluded most natural products companies is the fact that very few products in the marketplace are positioned toward the male consumer. This affords a tremendous opportunity for both suppliers and manufacturers to design and market products that meet the needs of men. Of course, men use everyday products like shampoo and conditioners. It doesn’t take much, other than a more male-oriented, muskier fragrance and marketing communications that speak specifically to men, to exploit opportunity in this area. Natural products that address hair loss will obviously enjoy great favor in the marketplace as well.


Smart product developers know that it is very difficult to have a successful product that does not have a fragrance of some kind. Therefore formulating with natural fragrances is a necessity. Aromatherapy ingredients and other natural fragrances, made from pure essential oils and flower essences, are a major part of the hair care experience from the consumer’s perspective. It is a word with which the majority of people are familiar, and a more “functional fragrance” can be a major value-added benefit and point of differentiation for the marketer.

Personal Care Integration

Personal care companies have been integrating product lines for quite some time. Retailer Bath and Body Works offers both types of products in a variety of different applications. The company has also recently launched several lines of products containing natural and organic ingredients and with commensurate natural positioning, including a variety of on-site and home spa treatments. Dudley Products, Kernersville, NC) launched True Indulgence, a line of natural-based skin and hair care products. Tom’s of Maine, a maker of oral care products, introduced a line of moisturizing shampoos. Recently acquired Jason Natural Cosmetics offers hair, skin and oral care products to its loyal customer base. From these few examples, it looks likely that personal care segments will continue to become more integrated.

Darrin C. Duber-Smith, MS, MBA, is president of Green Marketing, a Colorado-based strategic planning firm offering marketing planning and marketing plan implementation to natural products companies in all stages of growth. He has 15 years of specialized expertise in the natural products industry and is currently an adjunct marketing professor at Metropolitan State College’s School of Business in Denver, CO. He can be reached at

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