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Going au Natural

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: October 26, 2012, from the November 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

As we wrapped up the November 2012 print issue of GCI, trees outside the office windows turned shades of yellow and brown and the sky grayed. With the temperature dropping from 75°F to 55°F overnight, we’re grabbing jackets, which seem, on the whole, as muted as sepia tones. All in all, it feels like a good time to once again talk going green.

In “Illuminating Natural Beauty,” Liz Grubow and Valerie Jacobs write that the shift in consumer awareness is a significant factor affecting and driving the demand within the market, and the natural beauty landscape is growing into a more mature and complex category. Brands are beginning to address the need and desire for self-actualization and holistic, transformative experiences as consumers are educating themselves on everything from ingredient processing to package recycling claims in order to determine the credibility of the brand claims.

There also is an increasing consumer preference for certified organic products across nearly all beauty categories, writes Rick Ruffolo in “Organic Beauty: Hip ... or Just for Hippies?” with organic beauty fast becoming the hot growth segment in the industry. He notes that convenient, affordable, effective, desirable and distinctive are five factors that will likely have a direct correlation to how quickly the emerging organic beauty trend becomes a bona fide phenomenon—or a bust.

And going organic isn’t something to be taken lightly, notes Darrin C. Duber-Smith, in “The Process of Going Organic.” Organic-seeking consumers can turn on products and brands that appear to be greenwashing, so beauty companies need to be prepared to follow through when they make an organic commitment. Additionally, including organic ingredients in a beauty product can add significantly to a product’s marketing story, writes Abby Penning in “The Lure of Organic Ingredients,” and there are often greater storytelling options for beauty products with organic ingredients.

The shelf opportunities for natural and organic products are growing, too. “We even see some of the larger retailers—Walmart, Rite Aid, Walgreens, all these big box retailers in mass food and drug—are actually setting aside special kiosk areas just for natural and organic products that are separated from all the rest of the products,” Sundeep Gill, vice president, R&D, Sun Deep Cosmetics, tells Penning.

With these overall shifts in consumer awareness and retail approaches—and with consumer brand choices becoming the self-actualized and holistic, transformative experiences that, Grubow and Jacobs note, go beyond natural or organic to how a company operates and builds its business—packaging, as always, is integral to help tell that story, support brand positioning and connect with consumers. Beth Scherer writes that beauty brand owners need to be smart about how they display their sustainable initiatives on their packaging, managing for clarity, space and easy consumer connection points. Read “The Right Message: Translating Sustainable Packaging to Consumers.”

Good reading, and good luck with all your brand efforts.