According to market researcher Kline Group, the global market for nutricosmetics was worth $1.5bn in 2007, and is expected to grow to $2.5bn by 2012.
The US accounts for only 3 percent of these sales. In contrast, Europe holds 55 percent of the market, and Japan holds 41 percent.
According to Kline, the three markets have very independent silos and must be tackled individually. The major differences that companies need to take into account when developing and marketing products for these three regions are differing culture, different legislation and different commercial climates.
The relatively small size of the US market is partly because it is still in its infancy, suggesting the potential for growth.
However, according to a presentation given by Kline at the cosmetics industry show In-Cosmetics in Europe last year, “it will be very difficult for the US market to reach the same level of penetration as Japan and Europe”.
This is partly because US consumers are more skeptical of the beauty-from-within concept compared to Europeans and Japanese.
Americans “want instant results, which nutricosmetics don’t provide”, says Kline.
Another reason is the lack of a good retail channel fit. In Japan, which has the greatest national consciousness for the beauty food concept, these products are sold at cheap prices in mass market channels. In Europe they tend to be sold in pharmacies, which fits well with the higher prices charged for those ‘clued-in’ consumers that seek the products out.
In the US, however, pharmacies do not have the same influence as in Europe. Instead, nutricosmetics products are sold in specialty stores, at medium prices, which could be restricting reach to different consumer groups on either side of the fence.
A major characteristic of the beauty foods category is that product brands have so far largely remained unique to individual markets, with little cross-pollination between Japan, Europe and the US.
The European market is largely concentrated in France, Italy, Germany, the UK and Spain.
Driven by anti-aging concerns, the market is “fairly developed and growing nicely in pharmacy channels”, says Kline, with products usually priced between €20 and €40 ($29 - $58).
Japan, the first country to make nutricosmetics mainstream, is now the most mature market for the products, which are widely accepted among consumers.
The category includes a wide range of innovative and frequently updated products, which generally focus on ‘total beauty’ with no specific claim. Prices usually range between ¥100 and ¥300 ($1 - $3).
Products in Europe tend to be marketed for skin and hair benefits, products in Japan are usually marketed for beauty support and skin, while products in the US have largely been marketed only for skin.
In addition, most beauty-from-within products in Europe and the US take the form of dietary supplement tablets, whereas the Japanese market is more focused on liquid products.
Secrets to success?
Kline stresses the importance of simplicity to achieve product success in the emerging beauty food category.
Products must be innovative but must not require consumers to make an extra effort: “Changing consumer habits is too much of a hurdle … [Products must] fit in with existing behavior”.
The researcher highlights two product categories with particular potential: Beauty water and multivitamins that include beauty benefits.