Marketing Matters: The Market Potential of Antiaging Cosmeceuticals

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The term “cosmeceutical” was coined after numerous products emerged on the market that combined common cosmetic preparations with nutraceuticals. While not officially recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the term is used industry wide to describe products that claim therapeutic value by way of ingredients that affect the structure or function of the skin, hair or nails1.

Cosmeceuticals is the fastest-growing segment of the natural personal care industry, with worldwide annual sales over $14 billion. The category is projected to grow 8–12% annually, according to HighBeam Research. Consumers are obsessed with maintaining a youthful appearance and aging gracefully, and as the global population’s median age increases, this market will progressively expand. Cosmeceuticals often target consumers who are image-conscious but leery of plastic surgery.

Cosmeceuticals that have origins in natural ingredients have sold well in department stores as well as mass outlets. Several botanical and vitamin ingredients used in cosmeceuticals on the market today have traditionally been used in folk medicine or kitchen logic. Red wine and honey are two such ingredients that could be linked to wined egg mask, an antiaging mask with a long and amazing legend dating back to the Chin dynasty. Traditional Chinese medicine is one building block to understanding how to combat aging, inside and out. Ritual and cultural heritage also play an important role as marketers develop global strategies for products that address antiaging. Asian women have much knowledge to share in the way of skin care. Most women around the globe understand that a key factor in reducing aging is avoidance of the sun. As early as childhood, Asian girls shun the sun, and when older, sometimes use chemical lightening agents to even skin tone. Light, luminous skin is viewed as a symbol of innocence and femininity in Asian culture. The historical rationale behind this cultural attitude is based on a belief that a lighter complexion was associated with wealth and higher education levels, whereas darker skin was indicative of a life of outdoor labor. Western women, especially in North America, generally possess the opposite attitude with regard to skin color. A tan makes one more attractive. Hence, the practice of sunbathing, tanning beds and self-tanning methods still are prevalent.

Pushing Ingredient Boundaries
The sheer size of the skin care market enables cosmetic and skin care companies to research the newest innovative technologies in achieving the “fountain of youth.” There are a variety of new ingredients in cosmeceuticals that are pushing the boundaries of science to deliver the best next-generation solutions to antiaging. Many of these ingredients contain antioxidants, which protect against free radicals, a major contributor to the signs of aging. Important botanicals include teas, soy, pomegranate, date, grape seed, Pycnogenol, horse chestnut, German chamomile, curcumin, comfrey, allantoin and aloe. Some of these ingredients have gained increasing attention in the West after a long history of use in Asia, specifically curcumin and soy.

Curcumin, the key biologically active component of turmeric, has shown great potency against acute inflammation, and has been shown to exhibit wound healing and antioxidant properties. Curcumin has exhibited a significant capacity to contribute to skin health, and has reported greater anti-inflammatory capacity than ibuprofen. The topical use of soy has been touted to improve hyperpigmentation, enhance skin elasticity, control oil production and moisturize the skin. It is also thought to have the potential to decrease skin aging and prevent skin cancers through the antioxidant and estrogen-type effects of its metabolites.

Familiarity breeds contentment and confidence, which could be why some of the aforementioned ingredients are actually foods that maintain their functional benefits in skin care, as well. There appears to be an accepted hypothesis that if it is nutritious and healthy for consumption, it must be good to put on one’s skin. The connection between healthy foods and beauty is not a new realization. In my caseload, I continue to see both mass and prestige brands adopting this beauty-from-within idea for the skin: BORBA, Shiseido, Evian, LUSH, Origins, Aveda, Olay and GNC, to name a few.

Well-known brand marketer Evian has cross-pollinated into skin care products by launching a facial spray containing Evian water, said to moisturize the face. Evian is clearly reiterating that not only is drinking plenty of water each day part of a basic skin care regimen, using this product is a natural addition. LUSH Skincare claims to use the freshest ingredients and fewer preservatives so that products are more effective. Its philosophy is that just as fresh fruits and vegetables are most nutritious for the body when in their natural, unprocessed condition, this is also when they are at their most nutritious for the skin. Skin care products like masks, scrubs and moisturizers made with natural, fresh ingredients such as wheat grass, contain many beneficial and nutritious vitamins, minerals and enzymes for antiaging.

Delicious Skin Care
Skin care line Origins Organics markets under the tagline, “You are what your skin eats” and is being targeted to consumers who have become more conscious of what they buy and consume. White tea is a key ingredient in the Origins antioxidant moisturizer. P&G researchers discovered that glucosamine, known in healthcare circles for its positive effects on arthritis, also blocks melanin production, the culprit of brown spots on the skin; glucosamine became a key ingredient in Olay Definity cream. GNC, widely known as a specialty vitamin store, offers a private label beauty brand utilizing herbal, medicinal, and vitamin ingredients. A grape seed moisturizer called Merlot is an antiaging cosmeceutical product available at GNC.

How well are skin care companies communicating to consumers that this philosophy requires a detailed regimen? Women of Asian origin are generally very serious about skin care regimens. A survey conducted by Focalyst explored the influence of ethnicity on attitudes, with Asian-American women standing out as a key target group for producers of antiaging creams and treatments. This target group was about twice as likely to plan to buy such products. How easily will Western women adapt to taking time out of their day to properly care for their skin? And will consumers stick with it and repeat purchase?

Western culture rewards multitasking, and many consumers seek out all-in-one products. One such option that has met with success is Total Effects by Olay. The product fights the seven signs of aging with its VitaNiacin complex. An all-in-one product is certainly one answer. Perhaps there are other innovative opportunities in regard to how the regimen is dosed. Taking an indulgent/glamorous form is one option being embraced by several companies. Aveda has gemstone-infused Tourmaline skin care products that offer a glamorous option to combat signs of aging. In addition, there is a growing trend toward healthy indulgence products that appeal to females with a sweet tooth. The convenient and portable Viactiv soft chew contains 100% of the daily requirement of calcium with a unique blend of vitamins D and K. Two to three chews a day is promoted as easy to fit into one’s schedule and lifestyle. One of the reasons women embrace this product is because it is so much more appealing to eat two to three Viactiv chews (that are chocolate and taste good) daily than to pop some pills. According to research conducted by Business Insights, sweet flavors dominate the cosmeceuticals market, particularly fruits and natural flavors. Viactiv has obviously followed this winning strategy by offering its product in six flavors. Ecco Bella’s Health by Chocolate Instant Bliss Beauty Bar and the Women’s Wonder Supplement Chocolate Bar are also examples of on-trend products.

Drinks, Patches and Pouches
Other potential innovative forms of skin care products include chewing gum, portable drinks, patches and pouches. BORBA has a line of Skin Balance Waters, infused with antioxidants, designed to “beautify skin from the inside out,” and its Aqua-Less Crystalline powders can be mixed with a beverage to help “soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.” For snacking, BORBA offers Skin Balance Confections—a gummy candy that “helps the skin regenerate its natural support system.” Individual ingestible pouch offerings are establishing a major presence in Asia. Shiseido has introduced two skin care lines, Sinoadore and &Face, that feature topical as well as ingestible products. Power Condense HA, an &Face product, is a small, single serve pouch containing a jelly supplement packed with essential beauty enhancing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, collagen, and elastin. The packaging states, “take two daily to effectively enrich your inner and outer self.” The cosmeceutical market will be an important growth area over the next five years as baby boomers, in particular, are no longer willing to accept the inevitability of the visible effects of aging. These consumers will seek out and drive growth in the demand for antiaging products as their share and spending power continues to increase. Regardless of the delivery method of cosmeceuticals—topical, ingestible or a regimen that combines both—performance and ease of use will influence and grow the market. Growth will also be influenced by marketers’ critical understanding of how to surprise and delight consumers with these options.

1. (Accessed Feb 28, 2008)

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