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Naturals & Cosmeceuticals at Mass


By: Stephanie Dishart, Pei Wong, Tanja Lindermeier, Evelyn Lu and Lindsay Novellano
Posted: August 26, 2011

The 2011 graduates of the cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management master's degree program at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York presented their Capstone presentations at the Beauty For All: Innovations in Mass Retail event and reception, sponsored by Target, at FIT’s Haft Auditorium in May. The following white paper accompanied the presentation from Stephanie Dishart, Pei Wong, Tanja Lindermeier, Evelyn Lu and Lindsay Novellano.


In the U.S., the natural category grew 12% last year versus 2% total beauty.1 Due to this tremendous growth, Ulta, Walgreens and many other retailers have created specialty sections. However, today the challenge is that it is no longer just indie brands introducing truly natural products for niche consumers. Major mass natural introductions from Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, L’Oréal and Johnson & Johnson, have met previously deterring price and performance thresholds for their consumers, often going beyond specialty standards. For example, L’Oréal recently introduced Garnier Pure Clean with claims on 94% biodegradable formulas that are paraben, dye and silicone free in 50% recycled bottles. Mass is shifting the natural definition.

This paradigm is not just in beauty. Naturals are omnipresent across categories, even in some unexpected places. For example, this fall, Wendy’s introduced Natural Cut Fries with Sea-Salt, resulting in a 17% increase in fry orders at launch.2 Lays new tagline is “Lays, we make them natural, you make them fun.” New launches for bleach, fertilizer, and paint are “green”, “organic” and “natural” respectively. The bold contradiction of these introductions is merely a symptom of mainstream America’s wellness fever. Even paper towels, the epitome of commodity, have become powerfully emotional with natural’s safe authenticity. With major corporate sustainability commitments and marketing campaigns to leverage them, plus an engaged gen Y and baby boomer population, this is just the beginning. However, the challenge is that today, even the word “green” is still gray for consumers. Despite ongoing efforts from agencies, corporations, retailers and beyond, natural and organic certifications abound with no clear authority.

The line between beauty and pharmacy has also blurred, but the numbers tell a very clear story. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 12,000 teens had Botox injections last year and cosmetic surgery rose 9%.3,4 Unregulated claimed levels of actives have risen to meet this demand for efficacy. In the U.S., cosmeceuticals will continue to outpace nutricosmetics, yet globally both, with close proximity to the pharmacy, have exponential opportunity. Global Industry Analysts reported last month that the global nutricosmetics market will grow 14%, reaching $4.2 Billion by 2017.5 If a new product is not natural, it is the epitome of science with supercharged results giving fearful aging consumers another avenue for wellness in their search for the fountain of youth.

This parallel is a global phenomenon. Last year, natural beauty grew 21.3% in Brazil and 13.3% in China, according to Kline. Yet cosmeceutical brands like Vichy, La Roche Posay, and Eucerin, as well as nutricosmetic brands like Japanese Fancl, are top-selling, new introductions in Watson’s and traditional Chinese medicine shops alike.6 From our travels to China this March, it is clear that “Better City, Better Life”, the theme of the World Expo, was not just about sustainability, but a shift in the Chinese consumer’s mindset. For the first time since 2001, economic growth parameters set by the government have been reduced to 7%.7 A new focus has been put on happiness, intellectual property and financial stability, the fundamentals of wellness.