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Sustaining Natural Growth

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: February 2, 2007
The pace of natural and organic product launches has been accelerating since 2002, when 624 such introductions were recorded by Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD). In 2004, the GNPD reported 2,900 new natural or organic cosmetics and toiletries launched. As reported in GCI last May, Mintel saw natural-oriented launches across all categories including lip plumpers by companies such as Jason Natural Products and organic hair colorants by Tints of Nature from Herb in the U.K. This past January, Baby Bouquet released a new line of natural baby skin care products. Aubrey Organics launched its sun care line including a tinted sunscreen SPF 20 Natural last month at the annual Natural Products Expo West. Numerous launches aside, the segment is not without its challenges.

What’s in a Name?
Darrin Duber-Smith, MS, MBA, president of Green Marketing, Inc., said one of the challenges for the natural personal care industry is that the term “natural” has never been adequately defined, making it impossible for the industry to draft a common standard and certification process for the purpose of enforcement and consumer understanding. The International Association of Natural Product Producers has been working on drafting just such a standard for the past 16 months, and Duber-Smith said the group recently posted its first draft of a standard for review at its Web site, www.ianpp.org. “The group’s efforts could eventually redefine how the word natural is used in marketing and packaging,” said Duber-Smith.

“Organic ingredients, on the other hand, are defined by the USDA and enforced by the FDA and FTC,” said Duber-Smith. “Recent concerns that organic regulations didn’t apply to topical personal care products have been addressed, opening an entire universe for companies wishing to gain product differentiation and competitive advantage by positioning brands as organic.” He added that organic foods and beverages have been growing at rates of more than 20% annually for quite some time.

Producers of natural and organic products around the world work under different regulatory and standard criteria, but abiding by the standards and using the available logos and indicators are an important way to communicate with consumers about the quality of their products.

Waleda, the 85-year-old Swiss manufacturer of organic and biodynamic body care products, is certified by the BDIH, a European organization that follows a broad range of criteria to ensure its standards are met. Compliance allows manufacturers to use a special mark acknowledging quality ingredients, products and business practices, according to Jennifer Barckley, Weleda public relations and communications manager. U.S. brands Zia Natural Skin Care and Jason Natural Products, both part of The Hain-Celestial Group, are free of animal-derived ingredients and it is company policy to not test on animals or use ingredients that were tested on animals. “This commitment is very important to our consumers and (is) indicated on our packaging through the leaping bunny symbol,” according to company spokesperson Laura Setzfand, director of marketing for both companies. “The recycle symbol and natural ingredients logo are also extremely important to our consumers.”