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“As we stand at the brink of a second nuclear age and a period of unprecedented climate change,” the Cambridge cosmologist Stephen Hawking recently stated, “scientists have a special responsibility, once again, to inform the public and to advise leaders about the perils that humanity faces.”
With dire predictions such as this and the realities of life, no wonder that there exists an atmosphere of stress and anxiety throughout society. These issues are bigger than a single person can hope to resolve. What’s needed, then, is an individual solution that helps to alleviate stress: a lifestyle of “health and wellness.” Taking individual responsibility for managing one’s own health and opening up to broader issues of life and environmental sustainability characterizes this “conscience consumer” of the new millennium.
Growing concerns with what one is ingesting internally and applying topically are leading consumers to adapt a more holistic approach to personal health and the welfare of the planet. In this atmosphere, natural and organic products are viewed as safe, efficacious and Earthfriendly. Hence, the growth of natural personal care at a rate of 12% over the last five years compared to traditional personal care, which only grew at the rate of 4–5% during the same period. Datamonitor predicts that the market for natural personal care will exceed $1 billion by 2010. In 2002, the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), reviewing the overall U.S. health and wellness market, came to the conclusion that the LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability) consumer segmentation constituted 63 million adults, a number that has grown considerably in the intervening years.
From Niche to Mainstream
Of course, natural personal care is not a recent phenomenon. Companies such as JASON Natural Cosmetics, Aubrey Organics and Dr. Hauschka have been in business since the 1960s, mostly catering to people with dermatological problems and early ecologically aware consumers (looked upon as “eco” people). More recent growth, however, is unprecedented, reaching 20–25% annually in the first years of the millennium.