Consumers Demand Eco, Individualized and Efficacious

Ingredient suppliers share insights into consumer wants, the ingredients created in response and how brand owners can leverage ingredient stories in product and branding efforts.

GCI: What consumer and ingredient trends are currently being seen in Europe and Asia?

Sharon Laboratories Ltd (SL): Consumers in Western Europe are looking for natural solutions in preservatives. Until recently, the so-called natural solutions did not have the same performance as [traditionally used] preservatives. In Asia, we do not see significant differences in the demand [for natural versus. traditionally used preservatives].

[Editor’s note: The company notes that although market trends would indicate the use of parabens would have diminished greatly, actual inclusion of parabens in products has not declined significantly].

Alban Muller International (AM): There is obviously an underlying and fundamental trend toward natural products. Consumers are interested by “greener” products, as they perceive that biodiversity is threatened and that we have to change our consuming habits. Thus, for now and the coming months, “green” ingredients would certainly appear to be as strong as ever.

Besides, consumers are more and more informed and demanding in terms of efficacy and visible results, thus we [must still] provide high-tech active ingredients with tested activity and highly sophisticated modes of action.

Naturex: European and Asian consumers are increasingly looking for authenticity. Twenty years ago, the demand for natural products was low. People wanted products that were effective. Nowadays, consumers—in addition to wanting the product they buy to bring a real and visible benefit—are also concerned about environmental issues. The way the ingredients are produced and carried is a matter of interest for the final consumer.

Dow Corning Beauty Care: While we’re seeing more highly individualized products in many markets, specifically for hair care, emerging and developing economies may just recently be moving past very basic hair cleaning and oiling toward more sophisticated care. In some of these regions, populations prefer to stay with their well-known shampoos, and it can be a challenge to help them make the step to conditioners—yet at the same time, they already expect conditioner benefits from their shampoos. In emerging markets, there is a need for more effective, high performance formulations, yet ingredient and development costs are significant factors in determining the products that actually reach consumers.

GCI: How can brand owners leverage ingredients/ingredient types to strengthen their branding and product development efforts?

SL: Many times marketers do not acknowledge scientific research and facts. They label the products as “preservative-free” or “paraben-free,” implying that preservation or parabens are dangerous for the health, when it’s entirely the opposite. [For more, read Controversial Ingredients: One Brand’s Perspective.] [Brand owners] can influence the market by paying more attention to their R&D needs and, from there, educating consumers about the importance of safety in the formulas.

The majority of our international customers who are responsible for the reputation of luxury brands insist on protecting their formulas with class preservatives, even if the list of ingredients does not comply with the green trend. They state they cannot risk eventual contamination that could jeopardize their brand if not preserved adequately.

AM: This kind of product, obtained with eco-responsible processes from renewable resources, is particularly interesting for [beauty brands] aiming to formulate products in a more environmentally friendly way. To meet the growing market demand and strengthen their branding and product development efforts, they have to team up with an eco-responsible partner.

Dow Corning: In addition to performance, we know consumers look for novel product forms and distinctive feel. From simple to complex, silicones, for example, can deliver unique textures and sensory effects while also allowing broader compatibility with a wider range of common formulating materials. As new, increasingly innovative products reach the marketplace, [specialty ingredients] will play a broader role in creating distinctive product forms. From a global viewpoint, that’s an exciting proposition.

Sharon Laboratories Ltd, Alban Muller International, Naturex and Dow Corning Beauty Care are all slated to participate in In-cosmetics Asia, rescheduled for Dec. 14–16, 2011, in Bangkok.

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