Asian consumers are thus being considered some of the most confused when it comes to natural and organic cosmetics.
Although they are seeking products that are natural or organic, they are invariably getting mislabelled conventional products.
According to research carried out by market analyst Organic Monitor, high consumer demand for 'chemically clean' cosmetics is leading many Asian companies to jump on the natural and organic bandwagon with many new products making claims such as '100% natural', 'no synthetic chemicals' and 'includes organic ingredients'.
Absence of private standards
Unlike in Europe and North America, there are no private standards for natural and organic cosmetics in Asia, which means that companies looking at certification have to adopt Western standards, which can incur hefty inspection costs.
The absence of private standards encourages many cosmetic brands to market their products on their ingredients, which means many are making natural claims based on their natural ingredients.
This leads to some products being promoted as organic just because they contain traces of organic ingredients, or in some cases logos of certified ingredients are being placed on the packaging, giving the illusion that the product as a whole is certified.
Organic Monitor even points out that some companies in Asia are taking it one step further and illegitimately placing certified logos on their packaging.
Retailers providing brand protection
It is not the case for all brands in the Asian market, but was one of the dominant findings Organic Monitor came across as it prepares for focus workshops on the Asian market at its upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Hong Kong next month.
The event organisers also found that a growing number of Asian retailers are safeguarding consumer interests by becoming 'gate-keepers' for pure natural and organic brands.
Many specialist retailers are demanding natural and organic brands substantiate their marketing claims by certification.
“Certification is getting legitimate natural and organic cosmetics into retailers, however overcoming consumer confusion remains a major challenge,” said an Organic Monitor statement.
“Few Asian consumers are able to distinguish between pure natural cosmetics and falsely labelled ones. Consumer education is considered essential. Organic Monitor believes it could well be the marketing muscle of large cosmetic brands that unlocks the potential of the highly prospective Asian market.”