More authenticity is needed in natural and organic personal care industry

By Katie Nichol

- Last updated on GMT

A need for 'more authenticity' in the natural and organic personal care industry was the overriding message to arise from this year’s Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in New York, according to event organizers Organic Monitor.

Industry leaders present at the event called for more authenticity by encouraging makers of natural and organic products to adopt sustainability initiatives and consider third party certification.

Kicking off the two-day conference program, a key note speech by the founder of Intelligent Nutrients and Aveda, Horst Rechelbacher, set the tone of the first conference session as he urged attendees to remove synthetics from their cosmetics formulations.

However, a presentation from Dr Liliana George of the Estee Lauder Companies underlined that a ‘green’ product does not just mean natural and organic ingredients. She championed the need for a lifecycle assessment, noting that consumers also consider recyclability, pollution and packaging when considering how 'sustainable' a product is.

Ethical sourcing of ingredients was also explored during the conference, with presentations from Brazilian cosmetics company Beraca, Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps and Canaan Fair Trade highlighting the benefits of this practice.

Beraca's director Filipe Sabará shared the company's experience of setting up sustainability projects at the edge of the Amazon basin, outlining how projects such as this can benefit local communities and protect biodiversity.

Eco-labels and regulations update

During the conference, a paper presented by Jeff Binder, from the North American retailer Saffron Rouge, revealed that third party certification was key to success in the natural and organic personal care market.

He presented ther results of a survey of 1,252 of Saffron Rouge’s consumers, which showed that while 72 percent of respondents did not trust natural and organic claims made by brand owners, 77 percent had faith in third party certification.

It was also discovered that companies that appear most authentic to consumers are those that formulate and process their own ingredients.

Greenwashing was hot topic

The issue of greenwashing was also tackled in the conference, with professional speaker and psychologist John Marshall Roberts denouncing it as ‘a result of corporate cynicism that serves to create negative energy in consumers’.

The Ethical Marketing session also touched on greenwashing, once again highlighting that authenticity is a critical factor in the success of a brand.

Natural personal care industry good investment target

Organic Monitor president Amarjit Sahota took to the stage to underline the potentional for investment within the natural personal care industry due to the proliferation of small-medium sized firms.

The market research company has previously highlighted that natural personal care companies could be a good target for investors during 2010.

According to Alex Panos, managing director of private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners, an ideal investment opportunity is a naturals brand that ‘has clinical results, a mix of distribution channels and its own customer base.’

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