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The Demands of Natural Product Claims on Fragrance

By: Sara Mason
Posted: August 11, 2009, from the August 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

What’s not in beauty products is just as, if not more important, than what is these days. Heightened awareness of the environment sustainability, wellness and natural has given suppliers and marketers an opportunity to distinguish their products in the marketplace. The trend is consumer-driven, and the demand is on the rise. According to Organic Monitor, global sales of natural and organic cosmetics are increasing by more than $1 billion a year, and it is today’s discerning consumer helping the natural and organic market find its way. “People are remembering the benefits of simplicity in their lives and in the products they use,” says Masha Petrowizky, independent cosmetic design consultant.

Therefore, competition for shelf space in this lucrative segment is fierce, and the industry is ripe with infighting on the nature of “natural” itself and labeling/communicating this to consumers. And as consumers become more savvy through and through, fragrance is in the middle of this storm. “When a consumer questions chemicals in her beauty products, it’s not long before she begins evaluating fragrances, too,” says said Jennifer Barckley, director of communications, Weleda.

The Base Issue

The absence of standardized, industry-wide regulations and the inconsistency of private standards are clearly confusing consumers, and may potentially hinder growth in the segment. Without global regulations for natural and organic cosmetics, consumers cannot be sure of the validity of a product labeled as “natural,” or to what standards these products meet. Consumers, in short, often cannot easily make an informed buying decision. In Europe, the organic food certification standard cannot be used to certify cosmetics, so the European beauty industry is developing its own set of standards. The problem is that there are a dozen or so different certifying bodies—ranging in structure, standards and industries of specialty/concentration. One thing they have in common: fees. “Whether it’s a fear of losing revenue or conceding standards, they’ve never been able to, or in some cases don’t want to, harmonize,” said Mike Indursky, chief marketing and strategic officer, Burt’s Bees.

It is hoped, by some, that in time, the industry will evolve toward a common standard. “It is our responsibility, as the natural industry and as businesses, to take the lead in ensuring consumers truly know what they are buying and putting on their bodies,” offers Weleda’s Barckley.