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Reformulating products to be ‘truly natural’ is key to Asian success

By Katie Nichol , 19-Mar-2010
Last updated the 19-Mar-2010 at 13:00 GMT

Lack of regulations and labeling requirements for natural personal care products in Asia means the market is dominated by synthetic ingredients positioned as natural, according to market research company, Kline.

The company’s study, Global Market, Natural Personal Care Products 2009, revealed that the trend for natural personal care products in Asia is strong, with the region commanding a 40 per cent share of the global market.

According to Nancy Mills, industry manager for consumer products at Kline, this market is worth $7,545 million (€5,555m) in manufacturers’ dollars.

Manufacturers favour profits over ethics

The report showed consumer awareness of the concept of ‘natural’ in Asia is quite high due to the rich heritage of Ayurvedic and herbal medicine. However, manufacturers that formulate with cheaper, synthetic ingredients that they market as natural dominate the market.

According to Mills, this is directly related to a lack of regulations and labeling requirements for cosmetics and personal care products.

“In Asia there are some countries [China for example] that don’t have restrictions on the ingredients used in personal care products and they don’t have requirements for divulging ingredients on product labels,” she said.

“We have found that companies have very little motivation to formulate with these more expensive natural ingredients,” she added.

Growing importance of becoming more ‘truly natural’

However, Mills claims that manufacturing products with authentically natural ingredients will become more important as the certification process gains momentum.

“It [certification] started in Europe, it is growing in America, it is starting to take off in Brazil and we believe Asia will be following,” she explained.

“Companies need to be reformulating and working towards being more truly natural if they want to be successful in the long term in this market,” she predicted.

Asia represents big opportunity for global brands

Kline’s report showed that the booming Asian market could spell big opportunities for global brands, as foreign brands are often viewed as more ‘technologically advanced’ by consumers, suggesting greater efficacy of products.

Colour-cosmetics is a particularly strong market category in Asia, according to Kline, with Mills noting that organic products and mineral make-up are doing particularly well.

Japanese company Shiseido has tapped into the potential of this sector with the recent acquisition of mineral make-up company Bare Escentuals.

Estée Lauder is another global brand that has recognized the potential of the Asian naturals market, and has recently launched its Origins skin care brand in China.

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