Parents driving the US natural and organic personal care market

With wariness of the safety of ingredients in consumer products on the rise across most categories, it seems the use of natural and organic personal care (NOPC) products are gaining in popularity, with parents leading the way. New research from Mintel reveals that over one third (37 percent) of consumers agree that they were buying more NOPC products in 2016 than the year prior, including 34 percent of parents with children under 18 in the household.

Furthermore, parents are more likely to purchase personal care products that are natural or organic than non-parents, including hand and body lotion (53 percent parents vs 34 percent non-parents), facial skincare (51 percent parents vs 32 percent non-parents), haircare (50 percent parents vs 34 percent non-parents) and body cleansing products (48 percent parents vs 34 percent non-parents).

“Parents are information seekers when it comes to raising their kids and, therefore, could be more aware of ingredients to avoid in their children’s personal care products, as well as their own. This presents an opportunity for natural and organic personal care brands to target parents, as they should incentivize them to purchase both adult- and child-specific products,” said Jana Vyleta, Health and Personal Care Analyst at Mintel.

It seems trends toward health and wellness aren’t just limited to diet and exercise as nearly seven in 10 (67 percent) NOPC consumers in the US agree they are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, compared to just over half (54 percent) of non-users. NOPC products could align with these ambitions as the most common reason for purchase is because NOPC consumers consider them safer than mainstream products (49 percent) and of higher quality (49 percent). Over two in five (42 percent) NOPC consumers agree NOPC products are better for the environment, while nearly one third (32 percent) say these products give them general peace of mind.

While a majority of mainstream and natural consumers are trying to live healthier, US consumers who purchase NOPC products are also more likely to take vitamins/minerals/supplements (60 percent), buy local (42 percent) and organic (40 percent) foods, exercise consistently (45 percent) and have a gym membership (29 percent).

“A majority of consumers, regardless of their natural and organic personal care product usage, are trying to live healthier lifestyles amid a society that struggles with challenges such as obesity and stress. Similar to how consumers who are trying to live healthier opt for fresh produce over sweets or wear a fitness tracker to monitor their activity, many also view using natural and organic personal care products as a step toward greater health. Mintel’s 2017 Global Beauty Trend, ‘Active Beauty,’ highlights this move toward overall health and wellness, discussing how beauty brands are formulating products to help consumers in their quest for health and fitness this year,” continued Vyleta. “For marketers, the opportunity lies in convincing non-users by proving that natural and organic personal care products have tangible health benefits.”

Outside of certifications, the most common way consumers know a personal care product is natural or organic is whether or not the ingredients are simple and familiar. Specifically, consumers look at the types of ingredients used (55 percent), whether or not the ingredients are easy to understand (49 percent) and whether certain ingredients are excluded (49 percent). Consumers also seem to prioritize general ingredient statements when it comes to purchasing NOPC products as claims such as ‘made with all natural ingredients’ (88 percent), ‘no artificial ingredients’ (86 percent) and ‘contains organic ingredients’ (81 percent) rank as some of the most important claims to NOPC consumers.

It may not be so easy being green, however, as nearly four in five (79 percent) non-users say they do not purchase NOPC products because they cost more money than mainstream products, while some 47 percent say they do not want to change the products they’re already using. What’s more, it seems some consumers may be skeptical as 43 percent of non-users think NOPC products are a marketing scheme.

Younger generations seem to be less skeptical. The iGeneration* is less likely to view natural claims as a way for companies to charge more money (20 percent) and is most likely to take the do-it-yourself approach. Indeed, nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of iGens say they prefer to make their own personal care products as compared to just 12 percent overall.

“Consumers are more likely to consider general, simple ingredient statements as an indicator that a personal care product is natural than they are certifications. The belief that natural and organic personal care products are safe likely stems from the increasing conversations regarding potential harmful effects of ingredients used in mainstream brands. However, many consumers are skeptical about these products, likely due to the lack of standardization in the natural and organic market. Brands may want to consider strengthening the messaging of quality, such as by calling out unique ingredients, as consumers view this as one of the top reasons for buying,” concluded Vyleta.

*Mintel defines the iGeneration as between the ages of nine and 21 in 2016

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