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The natural product segment has an incredible opportunity to seize a sizable share of the beauty industry. According to Sundale Research, natural- and organic-positioned products are expected to account for 17.4% of the beauty industry by 2013, up from the 5.1% expected in 2010. Consumers are seeking natural, organic and green products. However, a frightening trend is being caused by the natural segment itself. Constant bickering among the chief natural companies, certifiers and resources are causing consumers to doubt the reliability of natural products.
According to market research company Mintel, “In the U.S., some 42% of consumers indicate they don’t know what to believe as to whether natural and organic personal care products actually are natural or organic.” The debate over who really is natural within the industry, with one organization bad-mouthing another, is creating the opposite effect on naturals segments than desired.
No wonder consumers are confused. The dizzying pace at which one organization declares itself the authority on natural and organic while another undercuts them to reach the top even makes natural cosmetic formulators’ heads spin. The debate inside the industry was originally fueled by legitimate concerns regarding the authenticity of some brands’ natural or organic claims; however, the backlash of lawsuits and outright brand-to-brand attacks has left the consumers with a lack of confidence in the natural industry.
The proliferation of new “standards” and lists has made formulating an “approved list” a driven exercise, rather than one based on effectiveness, proven safety and consumer cost of the finished product. In the case of many safe ingredients, the baby has been thrown out with the bath water, with misleading information from watch groups. This trend has the potential to erode consumer confidence even further in the natural industry, and in order to gain that confidence back, common ground within the natural segment must be found.