Tom’s of Maine continues innovation to remain a leader among natural brands

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

image courtesy of the brand
image courtesy of the brand
The nearly 50-year-old naturals brand was among the many personal care and cosmetics makers exhibiting at this month’s Expo West event in California. Cosmetics Design caught up with Tom’s after the show to find out how the brand is keeping pace with the demand for naturals.

Tom’s of Maine has been expanding right alongside consumer demand for natural personal care and beauty products. “Most people are first introduced to Tom’s of Maine through our natural toothpastes or deodorants,” ​acknowledges Matt Smith, associate marketing director for the brand, in an email exchange with Cosmetics Design. “Once they become fans of those products,” ​he says, “we are constantly looking for new ways to fulfill their personal care needs.”

Which explains, in part, why Tom’s (a Colgate-Palmolive brand since 2006)  was at Natural Products’ Expo West event this month. Like many personal care brands exhibiting at the show, Tom’s was there to emphasize and expand its place in the naturals market.

“Expo West is the biggest show for natural product buyers and natural care enthusiasts. It’s a productive and efficient way to meet representatives around the US and Canada who may carry some of our products or want to carry them but didn’t realize we also manufacture the #1 natural mouthwash, or USDA organic lip balm, or a new mint-scented bar soap,” ​notes Smith.

“It’s also an opportunity to highlight our new innovation[s]….[and] a chance to communicate company values and what makes us different.”

Natural and meaningful

When asked about what should be happening in the natural personal care sector that isn’t, Smith calls attention to labeling and terminology: “We would like to see a stronger definition around what natural means to clarify for consumers what is and isn’t natural,” ​he tells Cosmetics Design. “There’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace when it comes to claims around what is healthy, what is natural, etc.  One of many steps we’re taking is clearly stating how we define natural and what natural means for Tom’s of Maine and our products.”

Personal care and beauty consumers, especially those shopping for naturals, are looking for socially conscious brands. And Tom’s has several CSR programs in place and in the works.  

“Our founders, Tom and Kate Chappell, established donating 10% of profits early on and it continues today….We depend on the best of nature for our products and have a respect for nature that goes well beyond ingredients. We want to leave the planet better than we found it.  Last year, a $1 million fund was created in partnership with DonorsChoose.org to help kids nationwide learn about and care for the planet. We have funded 3,314 projects and reached 343,331 students,” ​says Smith.

Demands and expectations

Tom’s keeps a close watch on consumer expectations and what’s selling well in naturals. “Consumers want natural personal care options that are healthy, safe and work as well as conventional products,” ​Smith observes.

And he also shared this example of developing a product to meet consumer demand: “We’re seeing strong demand for natural alternatives to whiten teeth that deliver visible results. Luminous White, a natural whitening toothpaste we recently introduced that’s safe on enamel and makes a claim of whiter teeth in two weeks, is a good example. We listened to our consumers, developed the technology and it ultimately became the most successful toothpaste launch in our company’s history.”

“We’re also seeing more interest in products that really unlock the power of minerals and botanicals,” ​says Smith. “Next year we’ll be introducing a number of new products that play to our core strengths but also deliver alternatives not currently in the marketplace.”

“Finally,” ​he says, “consumers are demanding more transparency from brands. They want to know where ingredients are sourced and where products are made. Tom’s of Maine was a pioneer in listing the ingredients in all of our products, where they come from, and what they do.” 

New and next

At Expo West, Tom’s was showing its latest launches, including Coconut Lavender Antiperspirant for women, Whole Care Mouthwash, and Fruitilious Natural Children’s Toothpaste.

And Smith tells Cosmetics Design that the brand is “always working to break new ground and explore what may be possible.”

“For example, we discovered that arginine, when combined with calcium carbonate, could provide relief to sensitive teeth in just 60 seconds by sealing the pathways to sensitive nerves as opposed to other ingredients that [are] just masking the pain.”

Not all innovation at Tom’s is focused on product formulation. According to Smith “another big challenge is packaging. Today, all of our packaging is recyclable through the TerraCycle Natural Care Brigade, but we’re still working hard to find ways to improve the recyclability of our toothpaste tubes, in particular.”

Looking ahead, Smith says, “We’ll continue to listen, observe, understand what consumers want from us and stay close to the overall industry. It’s no secret there’s a proliferation of natural products, but more is not always better. At the end of the day, consumers want products that work. Our mission is to offer something truly different, be able to deliver on our claims, and be honest in those claims.”

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DeannaUtroskeEditor

Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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