- A study concluded that mass-market retail options were the preferred outlets for natural and organic products.
- Colocating products by price point increases visibility of natural products, and may draw new customers.
- Obstacles to growth include confusion regarding standards and labeling, and the costs involved in mass production of natural and organic ingredients.
Long gone are the days of organic personal care products sold only in select natural goods retailers up and down the coastlines of the United States. Today, one can pick up a bottle of sulfate- and paraben-free shampoo at a Midwestern drugstore almost as easily as at a health food retailer in San Francisco. However, according to a study released in late 2009 by market research firm TABS Group, the natural and organic personal care market still has a long way to go before truly penetrating the mainstream marketplace. The study found that purchase levels for organic skin care hovered around 6%, and organic hair care and cosmetics remained near 4%, a steady figure since 2008.
Duane Reade Does it Right
In October 2009, Duane Reade, a New York-centered drugstore chain with more than 250 outposts, opened its first Look Boutique in its new location in Manhattan’s Herald Square. This beauty hot spot, located on the top floor, features 5,400-square feet dedicated solely to beauty retail, selling everything from cosmetics and spa-positioned skin care lines to fragrance and hair care products typically found solely in high-end salons.
The Herald Square Look Boutique is staffed full-time by a team of beauty advisers, and serves as a model for future locations as well. By the end of 2010, Duane Reade expects to open 15 more Look Boutiques in new or remodeled outlets.
In addition, each store will market these products’ location as its own natural beauty haven near the more mainstream beauty lines. “As a true beauty destination, Target strives to offer accessibility to the most sought-after and often hard-to-find beauty brands to its guests,” Gleason adds. “The naturals offerings can be found in the beauty and personal care products area, grouped together in a naturals products section.”
Gleason notes that, due to market preferences, not every store will carry all of the newly offered brands; however, Target plans to offer some of these products on its Web site as well. “Our goal is to always be in stock with the products our guests want and need,” she adds. “If a guest is unable to find a product, a team member within our store can identify the product a guest is looking for and find the nearest store that has it.”
Across the Pond
The mainstreaming of natural personal care products certainly isn’t unique to the United States—Europe has seen a marked increase in the natural and organic personal care market, with revenues projected to reach €2 billion by the end of 2010, according to market research firm Organic Monitor. To keep up with demand, many mainstream retailers are introducing natural and organic personal care products under their private labels, shifting the sales away from the specialty apothecaries. Natural beauty products are now easily found in supermarkets, hypermarkets and drugstores. This is especially apparent in Germany, where Organic Monitor has found that the natural and organic personal care market has reached 5%.
In Europe as in North America, the natural products market faces several obstacles to future growth: educating potential consumers of the benefits of these products; confusion regarding standards and labeling; and the costs involved in mass production of natural and organic ingredients. “Increasingly, mass market retailers are integrating natural personal care into mainstream personal care sections increasing visibility and sales of these items,” Setzfand notes. “It is still necessary to highlight the natural content and philosophies of natural brands integrated into mainstream sets to help shoppers evaluate and understand a natural brand’s value proposition.” As consumer demand for green beauty alternatives increases, we can expect that the product offerings—and variety of retail locations—will continue to grow.
Lisa Doyle was formerly the associate editor of GCI magazine and is a freelance writer in the Chicago area. Her work has appeared in Skin Inc. magazine, Salon Today, America’s Best, Renew and Modern Salon.