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Organic Monitor: marketing and distribution can help clear up natural claim confusion

By Andrew McDougall , 25-Oct-2011

Consumers are becoming lost in a maze of marketing claims and false labelling according to market analyst Organic Monitor, and although certification will clean up confusion, the UK-based company also believes that marketing and distribution can play an important role.

Pure natural and organic brands have realised that overstating natural or organic ingredients and making unsubstantiated marketing claims only adds to consumer distrust, and Organic Monitor claims that a growing number of brands are moving away from such claims and marketing their products as ‘authentic’ and ‘sustainable’.

Others are focusing on their brands' long history and origins, implying they have not just jumped on the ‘natural bandwagon’.

“Many brands are making natural and organic claims, however consumers are becoming confused as to what is an authentic natural / organic cosmetic product. Marketing plays an important role as it can educate consumers on what is an authentic product and which ones are not,” Amarjit Sahota, president of Organic Monitor told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com.

Marketing and distribution can play their part

“For instance, marketing communications can highlight certification and the absence of synthetics, as opposed to just highlighting the presence of natural ingredients. Distribution is also important as it can be used to position natural / organic cosmetics in appropriate channels. The direct marketing route for instance can be used by brand owners to educate consumers directly.”

Marketing and distribution innovations are a major theme of the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, taking place in Paris on 28-30th November 2011 .

Sahota explained that some of the key findings of the Brand Assessment study completed earlier this year will be presented in a dedicated seminar by Judi Beerling.

“We shall also be giving case studies of brands that are successfully meeting the marketing challenges. For instance, Melvita will give details of its international network of concept stores that are being used to spread the 'Melvita story',” he said.

“A leading retailer will [also] share its experiences in marketing natural & organic cosmetics, whilst a research agency will give insights into consumer behaviour towards these products,” he added.

Assessment of natural / organic claims

Organic Monitor research conducted earlier this year, as reported by CosmeticsDesign-Europe, by a chartered chemist analysed the ingredient composition of cosmetic products of over 50 brands that make natural and / or organic claims.

The brands were given naturalness ratings according to their ingredient composition. Certified organic brands scored highest (9-10), followed by pure natural cosmetics (4-7), semi-natural cosmetics (3), naturally inspired cosmetics (2) to conventional cosmetics (1).

Many brands making natural / organic claims had ratings at the low end of the spectrum, and Organic Monitor claims that some were brandishing their skin care products as organic just because the formulations contained organic essential oils.

Others were putting organic certification logos on product packaging because one major ingredient was certified. Most were making natural claims just because some ingredients were natural. This phenomenon is most evident in Asia and Latin America, where many cosmetic products contain some natural ingredients.

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