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Nutricosmetics: The Future of Beauty or a Waning Fad?

By: Carrie Lennard, Euromonitor International
Posted: October 5, 2009, from the October 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • Ingestible and topical combination products are proving more palatable to consumers who are skeptical about nutricosmetics.
  • Growth in nutricosmetics is being generated by men and young women, two consumer segments that have not previosuly been target nutricosmetic consumers.
  • Even products in formats that are traditionally associated with healthy eating may still fail if consumers remain skeptical about their added health benefits.
  • In order for nutricosmetics to continue to grow, sales really need to take off in countries where the economies are more resilient to the global recession—in particular, the BRIC nations.

Nutricosmetics and nutriceuticals have been hailed as the next big thing in the beauty industry, and many industry watchers have forecast the segment to boom in the next few years, but there are large disparities in the way the market is developing around the world. Further, sales are currently largely concentrated in several key regions. While sales in Japan, where 16% of all dietary supplements in 2008 had a beauty positioning, and Western Europe continue to thrive and products become increasingly sophisticated, consumers elsewhere in the world have been slower to react to the new nutricosmetics products cropping up on the shelves of health and beauty retailers.

Topical/Ingestible Combo Products the New Trend in Developed Markets

In 2009, the Israeli ingredients company Frutarom announced the development of a new range of ingredients called Nature’s Essence for Skin Care, designed to target skin issues both from the inside and outside. The products are designed to treat problems such as acne, sun-damaged skin, oily or inflamed skin, and to work in conjunction with topical treatments for these conditions in order to speed up recovery. Nivea’s Goodbye Cellulite range, launched in 2008, is also notable for its claims in tackling the orange peel appearance caused by cellulite through the use of both a nutricosmetics pill and a cream. The Goodbye Cellulite capsules and gel both contain L-carnitine, reputed to aid in dissolving fat. These kinds of products seem to be proving more palatable to consumers who are skeptical about nutricosmetics because they combine the topically applied products that women are already accustomed to using with less familiar methods.

The advantage of this combined approach is that it often gives a more immediately visible benefit until the pills begin to have an effect, and one of the major sticking points for consumers regarding nutricosmetics/nutriceuticals has been the time delay, often by approximately a month, before they can expect visible results. This requires a leap of faith that can be too great for many potential consumers.

New Consumer Groups Willing to Try Nutricosmetics

Growth in nutricosmetics is being generated by two consumer segments that have not previously been target nutricosmetic consumers: men and young women. Until recently, women 30–60 years of age were the prime consumer target group for nutricosmetics manufacturers. However, men have also begun to catch on to the trend. In April 2009, a new brand of hair-thinning supplements, Viviscal and Viviscal for Men, was launched in the U.S. market. Already popular in other markets, the entry to the U.S. market, through the Duane Reade pharmacy chain, signified an important milestone in the acceptance of nutricosmetics among notoriously results-driven U.S. consumers. The range of combination products includes supplements, treatment shampoo and scalp lotion. The capsules contain proteins to nourish thinning hair and encourage hair growth and flax seed, claimed to help slow the thinning of hair. Similarly in the U.K., Wellman has recently launched Tricologic, a supplement also targeting male consumers who are concerned about hair loss. This segment is likely to see further growth as remedies for hair loss are far more limited than those available for antiaging, for example.