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Western Europe continues to set the trends for natural cosmetics

By Simon Pitman , 16-Oct-2012

Western Europe still shows strong growth for natural cosmetics despite the economic downturn, with Germany, Italy and France displaying some of the most interesting trends.

According to Germany-based market researcher Oneco, Europe has a 21 per cent share of the global market for natural beauty care, behind the biggest market, Asia Pacfic with 37 per cent, but ahead of the next biggest market, the USA which has a 17 per cent global market share,.

In Europe the vast majority of the natural beauty care market is concentrated in Western Europe, where the market makes up approximated 70 per cent of a total marketed estimated to be valued at €2.5bn, according to Oneco’s Natural Cosmetics Report 2012.

Top of the European pile is Germany, which has an estimated market value of €815m in 2011 for sales of genuine certified natural or organic beauty products.

Watch the naturally-inspired!

Naturally-inspired inspired cosmetic products, which are not certified, are currently estimated to account for 7.8 percent of the total beauty market in the country, with a value of €12.67bn in 2011.

Although the tough economic times saw growth in sales of natural beauty products drop from 11 per cent in 2010, to just 2.5 per cent in 2011, the report points to a recovery a return to rapid growth in the future.

The second biggest market in Europe is France, which has enjoyed annual growth rates of around 30 per cent in recent years to achieve an overall market value of €400m in 2011, representing approximately 4 per cent of total annual cosmetics sales in the country.

France is a trend setting market

The report points to the fact that this is one of the leading trend setting markets for natural cosmetics in the world, a reputation that has been built upon from a heritage of using herbal cosmetics for many years. Indeed, the country boasted one of the world’s first natural cosmetics associations, Cosmebio, set up in 2002.

The changing retail landscape in the country is also helping to drive sales. Initially natural and organic cosmetic products were only available in specialist pharmacy, parapharmacy and beauty outlets, but in recent years the mass market channels are increasingly stocking natural beauty products.

Interestingly, the report authors note that in France natural cosmetics are not an alternative to the conventional range, but a welcome supplement.

Indeed, natural cosmetics expert Elfriede Dambacher notes that this approach to natural cosmetics in France has meant that the market has evolved differently that in Germany, giving French companies a lot of kudos, making the smaller independent natural players company a target for multinationals.

Italy blurs the line on natural and certified

The other notable market highlighted in the report is Italy, where the estimated market for certified natural cosmetics is estimated to have reached between €280m - €290m, whereas annual sales of natural beauty care are estimated at €400m.

This figure appears to vary greatly, the report notes that, as is also the case in France, in Italy the distinction between natural and certified natural products is not always clearly defined, leaving a distinct gray area in the market.

Also in line with France, the market in Italy has developed by the specialist drug store chain Erboriterias. However, the development of the category is also seeing it breaking into the mass market retail channels, most notably through the food chain Coop Italia.

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