Asian natural cosmetics market: mislabelling, false claims and confusion

Natural cosmetic sales are increasing at a fast rate in Asia, however the market is blighted by false marketing claims, mislabelling of products and consumer confusion.

Organic Monitor (www.organicmonitor.com) research finds high consumer demand for ‘chemically clean’ cosmetics is leading many Asian companies to jump on the natural & organic bandwagon. Many new products are making claims such as ‘100% natural’, ‘no synthetic chemicals’ and ‘includes organic ingredients’.

Unlike in Europe and North America, there are no private standards for natural & organic cosmetics in Asia. 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. Many are making natural claims based on their natural ingredients. Some products are promoted as organic, even though they contain just trace organic ingredients. Others are placing symbols and logos of their certified ingredients on product packaging, giving an illusion that the finished product is certified. Some Asian companies are going further by illegitimately placing symbols and logos of natural and organic cosmetic standards on product packaging.

Asian consumers are thus considered some of the most confused when it comes to natural and organic cosmetics. Although they are seeking products that are natural / organic and do not contain parabens, phthalates and related synthetic ingredients, they are invariably getting mislabelled conventional products.

Research undertaken for its upcoming workshops titled ‘Business Openings in the Global Market for Natural & Organic Cosmetics’, Organic Monitor finds some positive developments. 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 & organic brands substantiate their marketing claims by certification. Just Life, the leading organic food retailer in Malaysia, has taken a decision to only consider new brands that have certified products. Other retailers are scrutinising the ingredient list of cosmetic products to verify their ‘chemical-free’ status.

Some brands, realising the implications of false marketing and misinformation to consumers, are focusing on green formulations. Amore Pacific and Himalaya Herbals are two large cosmetic firms developing certified lines of natural & organic cosmetics. They see consumer trust and loyalty as key success factors in the natural cosmetics market.

Certification is getting legitimate natural & organic cosmetics into retailers, however overcoming consumer confusion remains a major challenge. 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.

Workshops at Sustainable Cosmetics Summit : Organic Monitor will be conducting workshops on the Business Openings in the Global Market for Natural & Organic Cosmetics at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit.

Asia-Pacific edition:                  Nov 7-8th  Hong Kong, www.sustainablecosmeticssummit.com/Asia/

European edition:                      Nov 28-30th  Paris, www.sustainablecosmeticssummit.com/Europe/

The aim of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit is to encourage sustainability in the beauty industry by bringing together key stake-holders and debate major sustainability issues in a high-level forum. The marketing issues relating to natural & organic cosmetics are a key focus of these summits.

About Organic Monitor: Organic Monitor is a specialist research, consulting & training company that focuses on the global organic & related product industries. In 2011, we are celebrating 10 years of encouraging sustainable development. Since 2001, we have been providing a range of business services to operators in high-growth ethical & sustainable industries. Our services include market research publications, business & technical consulting, summits, seminars & workshops. Visit us at www.organicmonitor.com

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Marie-Theres Wimmer, PR & Marketing Executive, Organic Monitor

Tel: (44) 20 8567 0788           Fax: (44) 20 8567 7164

Email: mwimmer@organicmonitor.com

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