UK natural sales boom, but challenges remain

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Personal care Cosmetics Hygiene Organic monitor

New research shows that natural personal care products are booming
in the UK, with sales doubling between 2002 and 2005, as consumers
continue to search out products that are chemical-free.

The figures reveal that the personal care market is currently growing at 20 per cent, far out-stripping growth in almost all other sectors of the market, according to a new report from Organic Monitor.

In comparison, growth in the fast-moving skin care sector is currently touching low double digit figures, whereas others segments such as hair care are growing at around 3 per cent.

Despite the significant growth, the market still remains relatively small. Currently the naturals market accounts for 5 per cent of total personal care sales in the UK.

Challenges facing manufacturers trying to break through this barrier, are an absence of regulations to define organic and natural ingredients, combined with a lack of consumer awareness as to what defines such a product.

Despite these challenges, consumer awareness is growing. This is mainly due to the fact that it has long been known that consumers are increasingly turning to natural cosmetic and personal care products as part of the move towards healthier products that improve general well-being.

But now, as part of that movement, tremendous growth in the market means that the availability of natural personal care products is growing all the more and increasingly penetrating the mass market sector.

According to Organic Monitor, the highest growth has been seen in health food shops and organic food retailers. This is due to the Food Supplements Directive causing retailers such as Holland & Barratt to rationalise their range of vitamins & food supplements and give more shelf-space to natural personal care products.

Further up the retail chain natural personal care products are also making inroads in larger high street outlets, where leading chemists such as Boots, department stores, hair salons and beauty centres are all increasingly stocking such products.

However, the onslaught has stopped at the supermarkets. Despite organic foods of every description becoming universal in supermarkets, natural or organic personal care products have not enjoyed the same sort of success.

Citing the fact that one major supermarket retailer has now taken a major natural personal care line off the shelves because of poor sales, Organic Monitor says that product positioning is absolutely critical to the success of natural personal care lines.

The report also outlines that skin care and hair care products are the most popular with consumers, accounting for 80 per cent of natural personal care product revenue, with natural deodorants and oral care products are also showing healthy growth rates.

But the highest growth came from the natural cosmetics market, which is also projected to report the highest growth in the coming years. Organic Monitor says that has happened because consumer appeal for natural cosmetics is widening as manufacturers market their products as premium lines.

With market growth still gathering a pace, there are clear signs that there is still vast potential in the naturals market for personal care manufacturers. However, tough challenges lie ahead, meaning that a cohesive marketing plan, clearer legislations and better consumer awareness will have to be tackled.

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