The event attracted around 160 participants, 75 per cent of whom were European, as well as 35 international experts who gave presentations and discussions on every aspect of the category, from ingredients to marketing.
Over the past ten years the natural and organic personal care sector has grown into a serious category in its own right and has now reached a transitional phase, characterised by a series of teething problems.
Invariably these problems revolve around both the certification of such products - in an effort to gain true recognition of their status - as well as the problem of how to market and position such products in a complex retail landscape.
Marketing and ingredients : the challenges
Day one of the event was Monday November 23, when the programme looked at marketing aspects, including themes such as the current state of development for the market, tackling the economic downturn, positioning natural products and tackling the challenges posed by sustainability and business ethics.
The second day of the event tackled issues relating to ingredients, such as efficacy, a case study on green chemistry, the impact of REACH on the category, latest green ingredients and how to develop products around the all-important eco concept.
One presentation given by Marina Cavassalis of market research company Semiopolis, underlined the fact that the organic and natural brands have now chosen a coherent marketing strategy that clearly identifies brands.
Clear strategies help identify brands
The presentation underlined that this has been achieved by making clear choices for packaging, positioning, distribution that have been develop ‘in synergy’, in turn helping to create an identity.
Positioning of natural and organic products was a recurring theme throughout the summit, and one that was raised by Violet Watine, of Mademoisellebio.
“We have to keep in mind that natural and organic cosmetics are placed as alternatives in this market and not in opposition to conventional consumers,” said Watine.
“Ethical distribution doesn’t only occur through the product, it also occurs through a global approach at the sales outlet and from the consumers’ point of view.”
Dialogue and transparency
Another recurring theme was that of dialogue and transparency. From the presentations at the summit it transpired that this aspect is important at all levels of the category, whether it be during in-house product development or the harmonization of industry standards and certification programmes.
“We acknowledge that organics is no longer a niche market, it’s a ground swell.” said Valerie Lemaire from the industry standards body Ecocert.
“The regulatory outcome is the only thing missing,” she went on to say, underlining the fact that one of the biggest hurdles still to overcome for the industry is a more cohesive and industry-wide certification programme.