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Stem Cells—A Widening Horizon

By: Aran Puri
Posted: October 5, 2009, from the October 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • Human stem cells that can differentiate into cells of more than one tissue type have strong implications for cosmetic uses and the beauty industry.
  • There are major markets where regulations forbid the use of any human-derived materials, including human stem cells.
  • Several raw material companies have come up with solutions to the challenges of incorporating human stem cells in their portfolios by exploiting plant stem cells.
  • Challenges do not preclude advances in additional ingredients that interact or work with human stem cells and that could have an immediate impact on the beauty industry.
  • Fostered responsibly, stem cell technology-based cosmeceuticals will grow to be a lasting, long-term trend.

Recent reports from Mintel, Datamonitor and others predict that demand for antiaging cosmeceuticals will continue to be buoyant, despite these recessionary times. The million dollar question on everyone’s mind, regardless of whether they are approaching the segment from the marketing or R&D side of the equation, is: “What will be next big trend in cosmeceuticals?” To answer the question, one has to read and analyze the tea leaves—taking a very in-depth view of the key factors that both directly and indirectly have a profound impact on trends within the segment. These factors include: public awareness and perception often influenced by media outlets, R&D’s work in new product development and technology-led innovation, and ingredient innovations sparked by new raw materials and raw material breakthroughs.

Public awareness and perception are the linchpins in the success of an emerging trend or product. If these factors are positive, then chances of a product’s success are greatly enhanced. Media coverage plays a very vital part—bringing awareness but also coloring perception.

Trend analysis that includes market surveys, opinion polls, sales data and so on, in addition to simply indicating the latest trends, both informs and influences media coverage that impacts awareness and perception, and also often points the way to new opportunities for both marketing and R&D. This trickle-down effect allows the re-application of successful and innovative concepts from related markets—food and heath supplements, for example—to the other end of the application spectrum, such as skin care. This is also where the impact of ingredient and technology-led innovation on trends is clear. If an ingredient or technology has been successful in related fields, awareness and perception have already been addressed and new, transferred success is closer at hand. There is a wealth of data and previous endeavors that demonstrate that success in areas loosely related to beauty cascades down to the beauty industry, and cosmeceuticals specifically.

This is also true for “new” raw materials, or new and innovative applications of existing materials for use in beauty products, and these, too, can greatly influence creation or proliferation of a trend. The efficacy of raw materials already demonstrated in areas such as health and nutrition are both valuable in supporting and building a successful beauty trend, leveraging previous success and acceptance, and can help create new trends.