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Can the Soil Association’s small changes make a big difference?

By Imogen Matthews , 10-Jul-2014
Last updated on 10-Jul-2014 at 17:13 GMT

Can the Soil Association’s small changes make a big difference?

As the Soil Association announces its campaign to change consumer perceptions of organic brands, Imogen Matthews takes a look at the situation.

It’s not so long ago that organic cosmetics were seen as the poor relation of mainstream brands. Worthy, yes, but the quality tended to be inferior and often at higher prices.

Tried once, organic brands would be left languishing on the bottom shelf of your local health food shop, unloved and unwanted.

The Soil Association believes this is no longer the case and that the time is right to change consumer perceptions with the launch of its UK-based Organic Beauty Week campaign running from 8-14 September.

Increase awareness

The purpose of the campaign is to increase awareness of organic health and beauty products and their benefits across a number of consumer platforms, including retail and online. The organisation has also teamed with Glossy Box to produce a limited edition selection of organic beauty products including Neal’s Yard Remedies, Pai Skincare, Odylique, Therapi.

“The quality and efficacy of organic beauty products has evolved considerably in the last five years,” maintains Emma Reinhold, trade relations manager, The Soil Association.

“Organic beauty stands up to its mainstream competitors in terms of performance and results and no longer needs to be put in a niche of its own.”

Reinhold believes that these changes have come about because of the exacting standards of COSMOS and the Soil Association. This is good news for the integration and acceptance of organic beauty products, but there remains a big question mark over how long it will take COSMOS to become the accepted global standard for organic beauty products.

Currently, the market is awash with private standards which are confusing both to retailers and consumers.

“It is hoped that should legislation ever be introduced, the COSMOS standard would be the torchbearer in any developments,” states Reinhold, who hopes that by having one standard, as with food, the confusion will be eliminated.

“It will bring the sector up to one level playing field ensuring quality, high standards and the integrity of the market are preserved.”

Cooperation

Equally, the success of organic cosmetics will rely on the cooperation of retailers. Whole Foods Market is the leading natural and organic retailer in the UK and will be contributing to the Soil Association’s Organic Beauty Week.

It will run organic demonstrations in-store every day alongside store events which include a pop up “Green Room” in Whole Foods Market Kensington, featuring samples, demos, workshops and talks.

All its UK stores will offer 20% of all organic health and beauty products during a one-off event. The Soil Association will also be partnering independent retailers and leading natural and organic beauty website LoveLula.com.

But what about the major retailers of beauty products? Will Boots, Superdrug, Debenhams, John Lewis and House of Fraser be enthusiastically supporting Organic Beauty Week? Probably not.

Consumers don’t see organic beauty products differently, so they shouldn’t regarded as a niche category to be merchandised away from mainstream brands. Only then will organic beauty have a chance of making it big.

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