Back in October last year, I was invited to the Diversified headquarters in Brighton. Diversified are the publishers of Natural Products News and Natural Beauty News, amongst other titles, and organisers of several trade events including Natural & Organic Products Europe.  

The panel was chaired by Julia Zaltzman, editor of Natural Beauty News, and also sitting were Jayn Sterland, managing director of Weleda, Kirstie & Luke Sherriff co-founders of Pinks Boutique and Stockport health store Amaranth’s owner, Joanne Hill.

Four questions were posed, and I thought it would be interesting to share my musings on all of them with you. Here is the third question:

  1. Future ProofingWe continue to see growth in the natural beauty industry – the Soil Association’s 2015 Organic Market Report showed sales of its certified organic beauty products jumped 20% in 2014, to reach just over £44m. The number of applicants it received grew 51% – but can we keep the integrity of organic intact whilst still being able to scale it up?

I believe that yes, the natural products industry can maintain its integrity and scale its growth, however in order to do this we need to unify on messaging to consumers. The Soil Association’s #campaignforclarity and #lookforthelabel messages are fabulous for both businesses and consumers alike.

I believe for continued growth, the natural products industry needs to go back to its roots and jump on board the slow movement. Storytelling remains an important element for natural products brands, and sustainability and traceability ethics are only going to become more important for consumers as they become more aware of and engaged with environmental issues.

At the Organic Beauty Week briefing for 2016, David from Herbfarmacy raised a very valid point: “less of the free from, more of the “from”.” In other words, brands need to focus more on the benefits of natural and organic, and not just bad mouth mainstream ingredients. Natural brands have an ongoing responsibility to continue the education of consumers when it comes to ingredients and benefits.

There is also education to be done with pushing the message that organic is not more expensive. Yes, it may be more expensive that the cheap mainstream products, but when compared to a product of similar quality and brand positioning, one will find time and time again that natural and/or organic are not necessarily the more expensive options. Particularly when you look at the cost of ingredients inside.

Greenwashing must be fought, but not in a radicalised extremist way. Again, this all comes down to how you convey the message, and always make sure your points are backed up with hard scientific facts. Give your statements credibility, don’t leave yourself open to criticism for having a weak argument.

For brands, when they think about scaling up, they must understand that different channels have different roles and functions within their growth:

  • Independents: the trusted companion. These stores have an incredibly loyal customer base and are going to be around forever. Compare them to London corner shops, which I am sure everyone thought would close down as supermarkets and “local” supermarkets came into existence. The corner shops are still going strong, and some of them are even stocking natural product basics now!
  • Multis: the threat for the independents. However, these stores are undoubtedly selling products at a higher price point than the indies. The multis are destinations for natural health and beauty newbies, tourists, or a day’s outing as a special treat for those passionate about organic.
  • Supermarkets: the convenience. Who doesn’t want to be able to pick up a body wash or soap because they’ve run out, whilst doing their weekly shop? The shop can be in store or online. The best thing for the industry about natural and organic being in supermarkets is the massive exposure to millions of consumers. It has certainly aided progress of natural and organic into the mainstream.
  • Department stores and concept stores: the shopping window. These listings are not always lucrative for brands, but they still serve a purpose. They give brands kudos, and like supermarkets, they act as a window to raise brand awareness due to the large footfall within such stores.

How do you feel about the progression of natural and organic into the mainstream? Do you think we can future-proof the industry? We’d love to hear from you! hi@rebeccagoodyear.com