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“Ethical sensitivity should be matched with the act of purchase”, Betty Santonnat, COSMEBIO

With now more than 400 members, COSMEBIO is the most important association in the world to be exclusively dedicated to natural and organic cosmetics. It gathers brands, laboratories specialized in custom formulation and development, and ingredient suppliers. After recently launching the new Nat label, the association is staying in line with the evolution of the market, which keeps growing despite a much more moderate enthusiasm, compared to the beginnings. We have met Betty Santonnat, COSMEBIO’s Development Manager.

Premium Beauty News – What is COSMEBIO’s main mission today?

Betty Santonnat - Our top priority is to support natural and organic cosmetic brands, especially by promoting our labels. The COSMEBIO association, which was founded by about ten laboratories, now gathers more than 400 members, 90 % of which are French, but which also come from everywhere around the world. The rise in the number of members came naturally, along with the increase in consumer demand.

We have aimed at contributing to the growth of this market since the beginning by providing clearer information to consumers and defining what “organic” is in cosmetics. We have enhanced the development of standards with specialized organisations, Ecocert and Qualité France/Bureau Véritas. To benefit from the COSMEBIO label, products must meet the requirements of these standards, and manufacturers must be members of our association, and therefore respect our charter, which imposes additional commitments, in particular on the ethical level. We also demand a true commitment: for a brand to become a member of our association, at least 20 % of the product range must be certified.

Another important mission for us consists in supporting and professionalizing our members who, for example, must take part in at least one training session among those offered by COSMEBIO.

Our ambition today is also to promote our label worldwide.

Premium Beauty News - Weren’t you disappointed by the growth of the organic cosmetic market?

Betty Santonnat - The growth of this market was strongly supported in the past few years, and it paved the way for the emergence of many brands and for the development of a great number of innovations. Today it is still growing, although the pace has slowed down a bit. Disappointment comes from the small market share of natural and organic cosmetics, which does not exceed 5 % in France, and rarely more elsewhere. The priority for brands is to capture new customers, and the COSMEBIO association must support them to this aim. Consumers’ strong sensitivity towards ethical and environmental issues should be matched with the act of purchase.

Organic cosmetics still suffer from early disappointments, when consumers used to conventional textures and formulas might have been surprised by natural products which sometimes failed to offer the same textures as their competitors. However, today the quality of formulations has greatly improved, in particular because more organic substances are available to laboratories. People just don’t know about what natural and organic cosmetic brands actually propose, and they are often prejudiced. It should not be forgotten that most of these brands, 85 % of our members, are SMEs or very small companies that cannot afford mass advertising.

That is why our role is even more important. Our collective actions aim at showing organic cosmetics can seduce. They used to be presented in much too technical terms.

Premium Beauty News – Was launching the Nat label in September a way to counter these received ideas?

Betty Santonnat - It’s a way to meet a new need of the market. This label is based on the new COSMOS standard, which harmonises the different European labels. COSMOS makes provision for a “natural cosmetic” category, which still does not really exist in France today, whereas it is already well-established in Germany. Organic issues acted as a trigger and enabled to raise awareness of the problem. However, their impact on people’s minds and on brands was much stronger than its actual market share. For some consumers, it is a choice that is viewed as “extreme”. The natural market seems a better growth driver, but it still remains to define what natural is, and generate confidence by eliminating greenwashing. That is what the Nat label aims at. To benefit from it, products must comply with the technical specifications of the COSMOS standard, and manufacturers must share the values of the COSMEBIO ethical charter by becoming a member of the association.

For organic as well as natural products, certification remains the only reliable guarantee for consumers. These products meet actual needs. They are more sustainable, have a lower environmental impact and are also reassuring for consumers.

Interview by Vincent Gallon

© 2014 - Premium Beauty News - www.premiumbeautynews.com
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