Natural personal care products are evolving from a special treat to every day use.
Environmentally friendly plant-based products that are free from harmful ingredients and can enhance well-being might be a tall order for some companies to fulfill. Not for the myriad of those offering better-for-you personal care products.
The increased availability, therapeutic benefits and exotic ingredients have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by the typical better-for-you shopper. Industry observers say this shopper is educated, curious and, most importantly, well versed about which ingredients are beneficial and which should be avoided.
As organic, local, fresh and plant-based foods gain favor with consumers, that thinking is carrying over into the health and beauty care aisle as well. HBC suppliers are quick to say however, that offering healthier products is merely an entry point for personal care companies. Susan Griffin-Black, co-CEO of EO, based in Corte Madera, Calif., says additional factors that drive customers’ purchasing decisions include knowing more about who makes the products they buy and how they are being made. “Standards like USDA organic, non-GMO, Leaping Bunny (cruelty-free), GF (gluten-free) and B corporation status are all important indicators to our customers,” says Griffin-Black.
Companies that manufacture their own products also appeal to many natural personal care consumers, something EO does as well. “We have control over the sourcing and quality of every ingredient and we evolve our formulations using more organic, plant-based and safer ingredients as they become available,” says Griffin-Black. She adds that these and other factors have helped EO sales grow 22% in the natural grocery channel recently and earned their products additional exposure and placement in grocery year over year.
Sandy Porter, senior formulations chemist for Innovasource, based in Huntersville, N.C., maker of PROXI brand personal care, oral care and home care products, says consumers’ concern for their personal health, their family, and the environment is causing them to realize that they need to be vigilant in researching ingredients. “People are increasingly concerned about the components that make up many of today’s personal care products, some of which are considered toxic,” says Porter. “For example, cocamide DEA is grabbing much of the attention today because California issued a notice of intent to list cocamide DEA on Proposition 65, and a number of personal care products are still using this ingredient.”
Last year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed Cocamide DEA as a carcinogen, at the same time more than 2,000 personal care products were launched around the globe that included this ingredient.
“One of the many benefits of using hydrogen peroxide in our products is it controls microbes and allows us to reduce the use of synthetic preservatives,” says Porter.
Jim Healy, vice president of marketing for Kiss My Face, based in Gardiner, N.Y., says the company is seeing the most growth in the sun care/skin and hair care categories in grocery, in part due to execution of trade programs and promotions, along with a renewed emphasis on targeted marketing programs. “As in the past, new nutritional learning will drive applications in skincare and hair care going forward,” says Healy. He expects that new manufacturing techniques will help unlock the power of natural actives and further boost growth as well.
For officials at Smith & Vandiver, the past 12 months have been an exciting time. Alida Stevens, founder of the Watsonville, Calif.-based company, says with both its Aromatherapaes and Good Clean Fun (children’s) brands sales are up in grocery, but flat in chain drug. She says as the economy is improving its NPA certified products are seeing an increased demand. “Authentically natural products still cost a little more than traditional ones, but with the added benefits of functional aromatherapy, our value proposition is strong within grocery,” says Stevens.
Value & quality are hallmarks
According to Griffin-Black, EO recently launched its EO EveryOne, a collection of value driven products that she says performs and smells amazing. EveryOne features 3-in-one soaps and lotions, for head to toe aromatherapeutic grooming. “These products have opened the door for us in more conventional sets,” says Griffin-Black. “They feature high-quality ingredients such as essential oils and other botanical ingredients at a value price which seems to be a winning combination in grocery.”
The company also launched one of the first organic deodorant sprays, which Griffin-Black says is already receiving accolades. “Our customers are more informed than ever about health and wellness. They have a desire to take responsibility for their own choices in terms of organic and natural ingredients and seek to avoid ingredients like parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates and synthetic fragrances,” she says.
For the fourth quarter, EO will be launching an organic breath spray and expanding its EveryOne kids and EveryOne men’s lineup.
Officials at Innovasource are introducing new hand soap and body wash scents with essential oils that, like its current offerings, are phthalate-free and derived from renewable resources. Miranda Reynolds, a product manager with the company, says the scents are “clean and not overpowering” which Reynolds says helps them appeal to both men and women. “Using hydrogen peroxide is new in the category, first introduced in PROXI personal care products, and has benefits consumers continue to be excited about,” she adds.
Products that feel good, work well and smell even better are the most popular with consumers today, says Stevens. For instance, she says the company’s Aromatherapaes Nourishing Moisture Lotion with bamboo and jasmine has been a huge hit with customers. “Natural ingredients hold strong appeal, but it often seems like it’s more important what you leave out than what you add in,” she says, adding that sulfates, parabens, PEGs and other petroleum ingredients are taboo in bath. “In skincare, the story is very different and what you use is more important. Anti-aging and color-correcting performance are among the growth areas we are seeing.”
This summer, Organix-South introduced TheraNeem Naturals Facial Oil Serums featuring a blend of adaptogenic concentrated extracts specifically chosen for their ability to feed the skin. Packaged in a one-ounce pump bottle the serum, which is designed for use by both men and women, can be used with or in place of a night cream and as part of a morning moisturizing routine, say officials for the Bowling Green, Fla.-based company.
The adaptogenic blend contains antioxidant-rich botanicals such as holy basil and ashwagandha that are best known for their ability to protect the skin from environmental and physical stressors. Autumn Blum, founder and group vice president of Organix-South, says the effects of the new facial products reach beyond simple moisturizing, calling it “a therapeutic line of skincare for 21st century skin.”
In discussing the demand the company identified when launching the product, Blum says as people started understanding the benefits of neem oil they began asking for facial products containing it. In response, Organix-South created three skin-specific serums designed to protect, nourish and hydrate any skin type or challenge. “There was a need for a skincare solution that could address the negative impact everyday elements such air pollution and smoke have on the skin and keep it from looking healthy and vibrant. Neem is incredibly soothing and balancing for many skin types, including those with mature, sun damage or acne-prone skin,” she says.
Manufactured in the U.S., Organix-South has a full range of organic Neem-based therapeutic skin care products including TheraNeem Naturals, TheraVeda Organix and Naked Organix. Additionally, the company offers a TheraNeem bodycare line, which includes Neem Leaf capsules and extracts, oral care, hair care, bar soaps, skin care, and pet products.
In response to new item launches, observers say grocers are doing their best to keep the category fresh and exciting. Griffin-Black says grocers are working through category reviews, getting better about being consistent with their timing, seriously considering trends and new offerings and are open to new merchandising concepts. “Retailers are working collaboratively with smaller manufacturers to modify some of their programs, asking for feedback and listening to their customers,” she says. However, there is always room for improvement. “I still see issues with over assortment as well as shrinking assortments —both are detrimental and confusing to customers,” she adds.
Observers are also concerned that internal standards have not been established, which would allow grocers to better educate and inform customers. “I’d like to see more education, as well as differentiating signage and more attractive merchandising and displays that really call out these products,” says Griffin-Black.
Stevens says organizing the set by brand is key because it helps emphasize a company’s breadth of options. “Natural brands can feature the highest level of ingredients and features, but if no one notices it on the shelf that’s a problem and a lost sale. In these instances, brand blocking can make a big difference in generating trial.”
Kenn Vest, president of Innovasource, says to grow sales in the personal care category, grocers need to do more to drive awareness, especially if they want a shot at being seen as an expert in healthier, better-for-you products. “Most grocers view personal care as price-promotion driven,” says Vest. Yet he says consumers are increasingly concerned with what they put on their skin. “People want to directly compare labels for ‘what’s in there’ and ‘what’s not in there’ in an integrated section of the store,” he adds.
‘Free from’ trend driving natural feminine hygiene sales
In the same way consumers are turning their attention to skin, hair and bodycare products that are free from unwanted ingredients, women are also extending that interest toward better-for-you feminine hygiene products.
Industry observers say many natural and organic feminine hygiene products offer qualities, features and pricing that enable them to meet or exceed conventional offerings while being better for the environment and the user.
For instance, Greeley, Colo.-based Natracare’s products are certified free from animal testing, are completely chlorine free and biodegradable. Its line of more than two dozen products does not contain synthetic materials or chemical additives such as surfactants, fragrances, dyes, or lubricants.
Company officials say continued focus on innovation, combined with delivering excellent product performance and environmental friendliness, make natural and organic feminine hygiene products an obvious choice for an increasing number of consumers today.
Makers of natural feminine hygiene products also contend carrying these items shows consumers a retailer is committed to the category and is supporting consumers desire to live healthy and natural. “Consumer demand and purchasing habits continue to strengthen across a wide breadth of organic categories,” says Theresa White, senior executive officer for Natracare. “Providing organic and natural feminine products gives retailers the opportunity to compete for sales by offering brands that attract a broader consumer base and capture a higher shopping basket ring.”