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Macro Trend Report: the Changing Face of Sustainability in Personal Care

Posted: December 8, 2008

by Kristen Walker, Mintel

As consumer concern regarding the care and preservation of the environment gains momentum, more manufacturers are feeling the pressure to “go green” and introduce sustainable products, practices and services. From breakfast cereal to cleaning products, no sector of the consumer products industry is immune from the pressure to innovate with eco-friendly formulations. One segment that has seen much activity in sustainable formulations is personal care. With a long history of animal testing, synthetic ingredient usage and wasteful plastic packaging, many manufacturers in this sector have worked overtime to create products that are healthier for the planet, animals and consumers. In fact, global personal care products making ethical and environmental claims have been introduced at an exponential rate in recent years, increasing more than 1000% since 2005, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database.

Authenticity is Key
Natural and organic ingredients are key factors in creating sustainable products. As demand for these ingredients grows, marketers have introduced a bevy of new products that promise consumers a more natural approach to personal care. However, there exists a distinct difference between products that are made of truly natural ingredients and those that simply add natural components to synthetic formulations. Currently there are no standard regulations for labeling products as “natural” in the US, and the term is therefore broadly used and frequently abused.* More consumers are becoming aware that all products claiming to be natural are not created equally, leading some manufacturers to go above and beyond labeling to gain consumer trust.

The Keihl’s brand has long been a leader in natural product introductions, and recently the brand has teamed with celebrity environmentalist Brad Pitt to extend the authenticity of its products and practices. In France, Kiehl's, in partnership with Brad Pitt for JPF Eco Systems, has launched a biodegradable Aloe Vera Body Cleanser. All of the profits from the product benefit JPF Eco Systems, a charity that supports global environmental initiatives. The gel also extends the environmental theme to the packaging, which has been created for the lowest possible impact on the environment.

Beyond environmental positioning, a growing number of companies are independently seeking out sustainable certifications to better substantiate their natural clout and green credentials. In the United States, for example, Ikove Organic Açaí Chocolate Facial Exfoliate is an all natural fair trade-certified product. This antioxidant-rich facial exfoliant eliminates impurities and dead skin cells to reveal new skin and illuminate the complexion. This vegan premium product has been tested and passed by the US Department of Agriculture and has not been tested on animals.