As in Europe, the U.S. market for natural cosmetics has grown significantly in recent years and, across the Atlantic as on the old continent, this segment is one of the most dynamic. But compared to the European market, the U.S. lags significantly behind both in terms of market share of natural and organic cosmetics, and in terms of consumer knowledge regarding these product categories. Furthermore, certification is far less widespread in the U.S. than in Europe, despite recent developments, particularly under the impetus of European certification bodies.
"Actually, regarding this issue, it is difficult to talk about the U.S. market as such. As far as natural and organic products, including cosmetics, are concerned, California is a separate market, much more sophisticated and advanced than the rest of the country, where consumer awareness is concentrated in big cities,” explains Sandie Jaidane, consultant and designer of the program of the Natural Beauty Summit America, to be held on 14 and 15 May at the Sheraton Hotel in New York.
This relative indifference of many American consumers to natural or organic cosmetics should not be construed as a blank check given to mainstream cosmetics. "American consumers have strong expectations toward brands. There is a strong distrust regarding the ingredients used in cosmetics, much more than in Europe. The main reason is likely to be found in the age of the U.S. federal cosmetics law, which is governed by principles dating back to the 1930s,” says Sandie Jaidane. Thus in the absence of strong actions from public authorities, consumers rely on powerful NGOs such as the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which recently succeeded in obtaining from Johnson and Johnson the reformulation of a baby shampoo containing quaternium-15, a formaldehyde releaser preservative that the multinational was hardly using anywhere else than in the U.S. market.
"Provided they are not offered at excessive prices in comparison to conventional products, natural or organic products have their place in the U.S. market. They are reassuring for consumers," concludes Sandie Jaidane.
But for Leila Rochet-Podvin, founder of trends and innovations research firm, Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation, and an expert of North American markets, natural cosmetics must provide more than negative claims regarding the absence of certain ingredients. "In the U.S., the natural cosmetics market has developed in conjunction with the ‘green’ thought phenomenon. In this market, natural and ethical concerns have grown in parallel to sustainable development concerns, and eventually mixed to become a real lifestyle,” she says.
The development of speciality outlets such as Whole Foods Markets, the example of “eco-activism” among celebrities as well as the media focus on the ’green or LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) ’ trends, contributed significantly to this phenomenon and to the arrival of many new brands targeting this segment.
The Natural Beauty Summit America will offer a comprehensive overview of the U.S. market of cosmetics and the profile of its consumers, including a speech by Leila Rochet-Podvin on the rise of positively green , bringing opportunities to better understand the phenomenon. The latest regulatory developments, technological innovations and market trends will also be discussed.