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Henkel goes on the offensive in the segment of organic and natural beauty

In a market environment facing profound changes, with a sharp drop in sales of cosmetic and toiletry products (both in volume and in value) on the mass market, since mid-2016, Henkel has decided to go on the offensive in Europe with the launch of some new ranges intended to meet new consumer expectations, with the aim of revamping the Group’s beauty offer in the next five years. The main focus of this makeover is clear: offer more natural and organic products and get rid as much as possible of controversial ingredients entering formulas. The highlight of this strategy being the launch of a brand new 100% organic brand: N.A.E. (for Naturale Antica Erboristeria).

Following the launch of Nature Box, Henkel is giving a new significant impetus to the natural repositioning of its offer with the launch of N.A.E., a certified organic brand

Following the launch of Nature Box, Henkel is giving a new significant impetus to the natural repositioning of its offer with the launch of N.A.E., a certified organic brand

For the German multinational Group, there is no doubt that the hygiene-beauty market is undergoing a profound transformation. “The drop in sales on the mass market has to do with two major phenomena,” explained the Group’s marketing team in France. “For 60% it is due to a phenomenon of de-consumption, in connection with concerns about products and the ingredients they contain and to the simplification of beauty routines, and for 40% to consumers migrating to other circuits.” To these two explanations, can also be added the ageing of the population, which is very noticeable in some European countries.

“A wiser consumption”

Between 2016 and 2017, the share of consumers who said they had reduced their purchases and consumption of cosmetic and toiletry products, because of concerns on the quality of products, has jumped from 31% to 41%!

This therefore is a particularly strong trend. However, some beauty routines and products seem to have played their cards better. “Products like dry shampoos or micellar waters, which did not exist a few years ago, now have a significant weight in the market,” said Henkel officials. The Group believes that the beauty market is undergoing profound changes, driven by three fundamental trends: a desire to consume more wisely, with a varying level of commitment depending on the product category (from the mere rejection of certain controversial ingredients to a requirement for certified products, including a preference for natural products); the emergence of new uses and new targets likely to represent important growth drivers (seniors, women aged 35-55, men, millennials, multi-ethnic groups) and finally, the need to reinvent the store experience.

The success of natural and organic cosmetics brands like SO ’BiO étic from the Léa Nature Group shows that it is the trend for a “wiser consumption” that is driving growth in many categories, particularly in skincare, hair care and shower products. Dental hygiene is in an intermediate position while hair styling products and hair dyes are somewhat behind, yet, in these categories, things can change rather quickly as and when a new and performing offer appears on store shelves. In short, the takeover of small brands in terms of sales growth is prompting large groups to react.

Enrich the organic and natural offer in the hygiene-beauty segment

It is therefore on these grounds for “a wiser consumption” that Henkel has chosen to concentrate its offensive. The Group, which can already rely on an organic expertise thanks to the success on the marked of its Vademecum Bio toothpastes, believes that the offer is insufficient in supermarkets while organic stands as an important source of revenue growth in the hygiene and beauty segment.

Following the launch of Nature Box, more specifically in Germany, Henkel is giving a new significant impetus to the repositioning of its offer with the launch of N.A.E. (Naturale Antica Erboristeria), a 100% organic variation of the Italian multi-category brand Antica Erboristeria founded in 1979 and which belongs to the Group since 2012. The positioning is clearly on a face-to-face competition with La Provençale Bio, launched by L’Oréal this year.

All N.A.E. products are made up with a minimum of 97% natural ingredients and sustainability efforts have also been made on packagings. Bottles for the liquid soap are made of 100% recycled and recyclable PET, cardboard cases are designed with inks specially suited to meet the recycling process while tubes are made of plant based plastic (Braskem). The offer consists of 26 references in the average price line for organic products (from 4.5 euros).

N.A.E. id being launched first in France (December 2018 and early 2019) and in Scandinavia, which are the most advanced European markets in terms of organic cosmetics. The brand will then be rolled out in Italy in the course of 2019.

But Henkel’s offensive does not stop here. The Group is also planning to relaunch its Vademecum Bio toothpaste brand with a new reference for sensitive teeth and two references for children (1-6 year olds and 6+). The launch of a toothbrush with a 100% biodegradable bamboo handle is planned for May 2019.

Most of the other brands in the Group will also go through the wringer of organic and natural. The cosmetic offer of Le Chat soaps for example, will be relaunched in April 2019. The new hand wash gels will be made of 94% natural ingredients, paraben free, mineral oil free and vegan certified. The Barnängen brand, which has snatched more than 1% MS in the French body care market in just 5 months, will expand its offering to hand care products. The Fa brand, whose paraben free and vegan line, Island Vibe, was a big hit with under-25, will consist of 90% natural ingredients.

Interestingly, this realignment towards a “wiser consumption” was not necessarily met with an increase in prices, although some adjustments were sometimes necessary. “Prices must remain affordable because what is also at stake with this wiser consumption trend is also to democratize it and make it accessible to as many people as possible,” explained the Group.

Vincent Gallon

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