Defining the Future: Part Three in Our Ongoing Web Series

GCI magazine’s interview with natural and organic cosmetics and personal care brand owners and suppliers turned up more answers than we could print in our March 2008 issue. Here are some of the other topics we explored. This is the final segment in this Web-exclusive series.

The Interview Panel:

Nick Koutsianas, Founder, APIVITA S.A.,

GCI: What is your typical audience demographic?

Kayla Fioravanti: Our audience includes anyone who cares about what they put on their skin. Our Chaotic Facial Line is unisex and is designed for blemished and chaotic skin. The typical age group for this line is 12 to 30. The Balance Facial Line is a unisex line that is for anyone with sensitive, damaged and irritated skin. This skin care system knows no age limits. The Absolute Line is typically for women from their thirties and up. Because we sell mineral makeup, bath products, body products, spa products and more, we have a very wide range of ages and ethnic groups. Our price point is in the medium range.

Ido Leffler: We actually are amazed by the amount letters we receive from happy Yes To Carrots family members, ranging in age from 12-years-old to 90.

Steve Byckiewicz: Females, [ages] 15-60.

Noah Bremen: Women [ages] 18-45, but men’s grooming is growing rapidly, and natural/organic and eco-friendliness appeals equally to both sexes. We certainly sell to “enthusiasts,” but the enormous opportunity for us and our retail partner is to trade up consumers who either buy natural/organic in other categories but haven’t yet in beauty or simply are looking for an opportunity to do something that is both right for their bodies and the earth.

Vorravit Siripark: Pañpuri products are unisex. Our customers are mainly 25-45 years old who enjoy natural products without having to forego a sense of luxury. They are educated, sophisticated and cultured.

Angella Green: JASON’s typical demographic are women 35-plus—typically a mother who makes the personal care purchase for the whole family. She most often shops in the natural food stores for both her personal care and food.

Debbie Ludington: Our typical customers [are] women, ages 30-55, with a comfortable income level. They enjoy discovering niche brands that offer good performance, and they are great referrers of these brands to their friends and family. They enjoy the performance and the status of finding a quality brand that isn’t found all over the place. They aren’t afraid to purchase goods online. We also have a custom profile that is male. These gentlemen are aged 40-60, have tried our soaps and salves and have found great results. They take the trouble to place orders themselves, phoning in or ordering online. Performance motivates them, and we receive letters saying that they can’t use any other soap but ours since it has solved their skin problems—usually dryness and irritation from shaving.

Curt Valva: We are targeted to an audience that has chosen to make a difference in lifestyle that transcends across many age groups. He/she is educated in the natural lifestyle, reads labels and makes an intelligent choice when purchasing products. Lifestyle and commitment is more important than say rural versus urban. Education and understanding is the key. If I had to put our customer in a box, I would say she is primarily female, between 35-60, somewhat educated, and above all, she reads labels.

Mike Indursky: Our audience started as a large, but still niche, group of extremely loyal natural product enthusiasts.

Christina Marcaccini: From a product standpoint, our line appeals to women of all ages. The textures and colors are so wearable [that] they work across a wide range of skin tones and skin types. Our green positioning will attract more of a psychographic cluster than a demographic one. These are consumers that value quality and believe natural is better and are willing to pay more for it. They care about the company that makes the products they purchase and want to see their personal values aligned with the company ideology.

Nick Koutsianas: When APIVITA first started out, almost 35 years ago, the consumer in Greece, as well as worldwide, was not conscious of the danger resulting from chemicals, nor was he trained to use natural products. Today, more and more people are aware of the environmental challenges and organic products have thus become a trend in the market. APIVITA’s consumers are environmentally sensitive, educated men and women that live mainly in urban areas; to them, APIVITA’s products as one of the ways to revive their bond with nature.

GCI: Which types of natural or organic personal care products are most popular, as proven by sales from your company?

Curt Valva: Hair care (shampoos and conditioners) and our three-step skin care methods are the most popular…. People are truly concerned with what is put on their bodies, and these seem to be the most popular products in the marketplace. I personally use our Blue Chamomile shampoo, GPB Conditioner and Natural Mist hairspray everyday. On my face, I use the Men’s Stock Moisturizer (a top pick by Esquire editors) and Lumessence Eye Cream.

Mike Indursky: Having a lip heritage, our flagship Lip Balms and Lip Shimmers are always best-sellers. To add to the range, we just launched new Super Shiny 100% Natural Lip Glosses (four shades), which will be absolutely huge! Next in line are our face care products—Peach & Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub, Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream and our Radiance line of facial moisturizers, [which] are extremely popular. Then our shampoos, such as Very Volumizing Pomegranate & Soy Shampoo, and our brand new Naturally Nourishing Body Wash, which is the first natural moisturizing body wash using a special oleosome technology. Finally, there are the old favorites like Lemon Butter Cuticle Crème and Res-Q Ointment. My favorite? It’s a toss-up between the Lemon Butter Cuticle Crème and the Green Tea & Lemongrass Hand Wash.

Carina Menzies: We’re primarily a mineral makeup company right now. That is driving our growth. But we’re integrating new product lines that fit with our holistic vision of Everyday Minerals—soaps, wet wipes, exotic body balms, lip colors and glosses and 100% synthetic brushes, just to name a few. And we don’t sell anything we don’t use ourselves. We love working with organics, because we’re the test subjects.

Noah Bremen: Our skin care products are selling extremely well. Consumers want a truly natural alternative to harsh chemicals and magic bullet products. I use the full regimen of 1-2-3 Skincare to keep my skin young, and, really, it feels good.

Vorravit Siripark: Pañpuri is known for its body care range, as it is our widest range. I personally use our Organic Cream Wash Bar everyday, because I love the creamy texture and the refined aroma.

Christina Marcaccini: We have had a great response to our RAW Color Primal Pigments Pure Botanical Lipstick and our Lush Lash Pure Botanical Mascara. The avoidance of synthetic fragrances, colorants and chemical preservatives are especially important for these products, since the lips and eyes are such vulnerable areas (women are estimated to ingest between 4-9 lbs of lipstick over a lifetime, so avoiding potentially harmful ingredients in the formulation is paramount). As a new mom (especially since I’m breastfeeding), I not only want to limit my chemical exposure, but I also need products that are effective and easy to use. I’m hooked on our Soft Focus Illuminating Skin Perfector. It gives enough coverage to even out my skin tone (I’ve got some melasma from my pregnancy), and it leaves my skin with a subtle bronze glow. Plus, because the formula is so lightweight and creamy, it doesn’t look or feel like I’m wearing makeup.

Debbie Ludington: Our most popular products [are] our hand-stirred olive oil soaps. These are a staple of our product line and exhibit consistent growth year [after] year. Our customers write notes about how they solve their skin problems—dry skin, oily skin, eczema. They are made of food grade olive and coconut oil, and essential oils for fragrance and therapeutic benefits. They also feature natural herbs and spices for color and efficacy. Our second most consistent product line is our Farmhouse Home care items. Thought they aren’t a beauty item, you can’t over look the crossover into home fragrance that many beauty customers are looking for. These people want to be surrounded with healthy, fragrant and effective products not only for their skin, but also for their home care chores such as dish washing, laundry, etc.

Kayla Fioravanti: The Absolute Line of facial products is the most popular line of cosmetics we carry. It was created for women with maturing skin. It takes into account the hormonal changes women go through…. As a 40-year-old woman, this is the line I personally use, as well. I am constantly asked why my skin looks so good, and the answer is, “A whole lot of water consumption along with the Absolute Line.”

Ido Leffler: If we look at the U.S. market, we’ve found that people start off in the line by trying our hair and body care products. Then, once they fall in love, they move into the face products. I’d say our C through the Dry Spell Body Butter and the C Loves Your Hair Shampoo are global favorites.

Nick Koutsianas: I would say our sales are balanced across product categories—hair, skin and body. We are, however, leaders in shampoos—selling over 600,000 bottles a year, with a market share close to 40% in Greek pharmacies. Our express range of masks in practical one-dose sachets has been another great seller. Personally, I am using our mastic toothpaste, chamomile and honey shampoo and various shower gels; these are products I first made in my small lab in the pharmacy, and I still feel attached to them somehow.

GCI: How does your brand differentiate itself from other similar natural or organic brands?

Sharon Christie: Aromafloria is a luxury natural wellness brand. We’ve been in the movement since back when it started as the herbal movement, which became natural, which became organic…. We’ve always been about wellness. I was always about good health and preventative health care. (I have a master’s in olfactory science)…. We have always been benefit-driven—not really the “flavor of the month.” As an herbalist, I have always been mindful of mother earth and her precious resources…. Twenty-three years of brand sustainability is “it” for Aromafloria.

Curt Valva: We have been producing natural products for over 40 years. We grew up in the natural products arena and helped to found the industry in America.

Mike Indursky: Burt’s Bees is leading category growth and differentiating itself by focusing on the responsibilities that come with its leadership. The key responsibility we have is to educate consumers on what natural is and is not, so they can make the most informed decisions to maximize their well-being.

Achille Riviello: We have been developing the pureganic line since 1995. We foresaw the American and European organic and bio-movement rising from the ’90s back-to-nature movement (following the ’80s excess), and Europe’s deep-rooted traditions meshed perfectly with this trend. The time was right for such an idea, and we brought it to fruition with the cooperation of the Bavarian Research Center of Agriculture and the University of Munich.

Carina Menzies: We keep our overhead low, we pass on our margins to the consumer and we strive for better quality products. If you want to pay for the overhead and executive vacations with the additional $10 you pay per foundation, for example, then we’re simply not your company. It’s about living our promise and not getting fat from it.

Laura Setzfand: Nature’s Gate was founded in the early seventies by two brothers who collected rainwater by hand, mixed it with the herbs from their herb shop and created the first Nature’s Gate Rainwater Shampoo. This humble beginning continues to inspire us to develop effective, safe personal care products based on the purest natural and sustainable harvested ingredients. Nature’s Gate has a broad portfolio of natural products, and is the No. 1 ranked hair care brand in the natural category, with leadership positions in oral, sun, body lotion and liquid soap. Nature’s Gate is one of the only brands to have created and introduced a range of USDA Certified Organic Body Lotions, delivering the optimal in product purity. This range uses only food grade certified organic ingredients, many of which are locally grown on land dedicated exclusively to growing the Nature’s Gate Certified Organic Plant Extracts.

Bernard Guerra: Our strategy has been to offer natural products at a price the increasingly stretched consumer can afford. We also offer a travel experience with our Discover the World line—to Greece with olive oil-based products, to France with French lavender-based products, to India with ginger and spice-based products and to Brazil with cocoa and Amazonian plant-based products. Our Brazil line [was] launched at the NY International Gift Fair. The plants used in our Plants of the Earth line are chosen for the benefits they provide to the user.

Nick Koutsianas: Our philosophy is based on the holistic approach inspired by ancient Greece and Hippocrates, in particular, who taught that “nature is the most dominant ruler of all” and that “prevention is better than the cure.” When we started out in the ’70s—and back then, natural products were not trendy at all—we wanted to offer effective solutions with no side effects. Being a pharmacist and a bee-keeper, I was inspired by Hippocrates, the herbs of my country and the bee community to create the first products. Our plant extracts have proven effectiveness, and we use mainly plants grown in Greece with high biological value due to the country’s low pollution and abundant sunshine. Greece is blessed with one of the richest floras in the world—over 5,000 plants—as it was not affected by the Ice Age. In addition, we take advantage of nature’s most amazing laboratory—the bee-hive—and bee products such as propolis, royal jelly, honey, beeswax and bee pollen to create problem-solving products that deliver results. We were the first company in Greece, and certainly one of the first brands worldwide to offer personal, bespoke cosmetics back in 1990. This is an area of growth that we are looking to explore further in the years to come. Our R&D team is yet another point of differentiation, as most of our research is done in-house; we have developed over 50,000 formulas in the past 30 years and produce over 12 tons of extracts per year—still the only company in Greece to do so in-house.

GCI: Other than online, where are your products sold?

Sharon Christie: Canyon Ranch, Coldwater Creek, Bed, Bath & Beyond, CVS, destination spas….

Curt Valva: Our products are found at most health food stores, health markets and better health chains throughout the country and around the world.

Carina Menzies: Everyday Minerals and our upcoming ancillary brands will always be primarily Internet based. This allows us the broadest reach worldwide.

Angella Green: JASON Natural Products are available in natural/health food stores and nutrition centers almost world wide in the United States, Canada, U.K., Philippines, New Zealand, Russia and Norway, to name a few.

Steve Byckiewicz: Whole Foods, Wild Oats and small health food stores across the country.

Noah Bremen: Noah’s Naturals and Organics by Noah’s Naturals are available at select Wal-Mart stores nationwide, Longs Drug [and] leading college bookstores.

Debbie Ludington: We have several very active distribution channels. Our oldest, and most highly protected, is our network of boutique and specialty gift shops throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Bernard Guerra: Bath stores, gift stores, independent pharmacies, health food stores, catalogues, etc.

Kayla Fioravanti: Our products are sold in spas.

Ido Leffler: For us, it really varies country to country. In Australia and Asia, we are in drugstores/department stores (and soon to be concept stores), including AS Watsons, Mannings, Target, Big W, Sebu, Central Department Stores, Sea of Life Stores and hundreds of leading pharmacies. In the U.K., we’re in Debenhams and are in discussions with the major drug and health retail outlets. We’ll launch at L’Etoile/Sephora in Russia in February with major perfumery, drug and health food launches throughout Europe rolling out right now! So it varies. In the U.S., we launched last year exclusively at retail in Walgreens stores nationwide and focused on the mass market retailers in the U.S. Walgreens has been a fantastic partner and have focused on creating a dedicated all-natural beauty section in their skin care departments. The early adopters of natural and organic personal care products have definitely been serviced by specialty stores and grocery stores, but other distribution channels have definitely paid attention, and adding more resources to develop this booming segment of the cosmetics industry.

Nick Koutsianas: In Greece, our products are sold in over 3,000 pharmacies, [in] one APIVITA shop in downtown Athens and [in] two corners in department stores. APIVITA is present in 20 countries overseas—Asia being our biggest area of growth. Two flagship stores were launched in Hong Kong last summer, and we look forward to further opportunities of expansion in Korea, Australia and Spain, our biggest market in Europe—outside of Greece, of course.

Editor’s note: Burt’s Bees and Nature’s Gate products are available in mass supermarkets, drugstores and specialty holistic food shops; RAW Natural Beauty and Pañpuri products are available online; and drom Fragrances, an ingredient supplier, can be contacted through their Web site, as well.

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