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French natural and organic cosmetics market now second largest in Europe

By Katie Nichol , 27-Feb-2013

After growing by over 30 per cent a year between 2002 and 2007 and expanding at a slower rate since the financial crisis, the French natural & organic cosmetics market is the now the second largest in Europe after Germany according to a recent report from Organic Monitor.

Organic Monitor president Amarjit Sahota told CosmeticsDesignEurope.com that the French market was valued at over €450mn in 2012, and increasing distribution is a major driver of market growth.

Increasing distribution is major growth driver

French natural & organic brands are looking at new distribution channels for growth, since the traditional channel (specialist retailers) for these products has reached saturation,” he said.

These include SO'BiO etic, which is focusing on supermarkets and hypermarkets, and leading organic cosmetics brand Weleda, which is making in-roads into the pharmacy and para-pharmacy channel.

According to Organic Monitor, specialist retailers still account for the majority of natural and organic cosmetics sales, although the sales share of this channel has shrunk.

Highest number of new launches

The report highlights that the French natural and organic cosmetics market has witnessed the highest number of new entrants and new product launches in Europe. In addition to new start-ups and brands, many multinational companies have launched natural & organic lines.

These include Henkel, which launched Diadermine Bio and Le Chat Bio, and L'Oreal, which released Garnier Bio Active. Sahota says that some of these products, while launched by global brands, are only available in the French market, such as Unilever’s organic Timotei shampoo.

Organic Monitor reports that skin care is the largest category in the natural and organic cosmetics market in France. Indeed, it has witnessed the highest level of growth over recent years, partly due to the large number of new entrants in the category. Brands like Bourjois’ Une Beauty have driven growth in the colour cosmetics category, said Sahota, which has also shown strong growth since 2008.

Standing out in a competitive market

Such a high number of new product launches has resulted in a competitive market where brands must work hard to stand out on store shelves. Sahota explained that where retailers were previously happy to take on natural and organic brands when it was an emerging category, being natural and organic is not longer enough.

As the market has become very crowded, Organic Monitor believes brands need to take a differentiated approach to market entry and distribution, he stated. “This differentiation could be on product range (e.g. focusing on specific consumer group), ingredients (e.g. novel ingredients), packaging (sustainable packaging), etc.

The 66°30 Organics brand launched in 2009 - the first range of certified organic male grooming products in the French market – was cited as a good example of a brand taking a differentiated approach.

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