Recently green and natural/organic products have gained a lot of attention, especially around the issue of greenwashing in the cosmetics industry.

Natural products are defined as: “Products that protect or enhance the natural environment by conserving energy and resources by reducing or eliminating use of toxic agents, pollution and waste“.

Demand for natural beauty products is increasing, driven by more informed, researched and socially conscious consumers.

We looked at several research papers and blog posts from people in the industry and took out three main points we think would be useful for beauty marketers to capitalise on this demand.

Enhance the short term value of natural products.

Researchers found that the tangible benefits of natural products are not easy to discern in the short run. As they tend to be higher priced, consumers often buy non-natural products unless they are aware of the benefits.  (Iyer et al, 2016)

Build products and campaigns around your audience’s lifestyle objectives.

Matic and Puh (2015) found that consumers who are more inclined towards organic food are more likely to buy natural cosmetics products.

Those who are already living the lifestyle are more likely to buy natural products for environmental and cruelty-free reasons. So the advantages of organic products should be stressed to increase sales to those that are more likely to buy products for health reasons.

Understand who is buying natural and organic beauty products.

According to Andrea Van Dam of Women’s Marketing, 63% of millennial women believe it is “very important” to buy natural skin care products, higher than the national average of 25% agreeing that it is very important.

More women aged between 35 and 64 read the labels on products (65%) but women aged 18-34 are the most likely to spend more on natural beauty products in the next two years.

Don’t use “natural” or “organic” to sell your products if they aren’t.

Seems obvious, but a recent study into the Volkswagen greenwashing incident shows how these marketing strategies are more counterproductive than genuinely sustainable policies (Palade, 2016).

The more consumers see the words ‘natural’ and ‘organic’, the less impact it has on them. Furthermore, using greenwashing tactics does not increase believability in advertising, in fact, consumers tend to be sceptical towards green advertising (Ozsoy & Avcilar, 2016).

The Soil Association recently launched a campaign to raise awareness amongst consumers about greenwashing. The Come Clean about Beauty campaign highlights the need for clearer labelling laws on beauty products that claim to be organic or natural. In a nation independent survey they found that 76% of consumers felt misled by labels on products claiming to be organic that actually contained non-organic ingredients.

Furthermore, 72% said they would lose trust in the brand upon discovering the products were not actually organic.

Image showing natural beauty ingredients which make a soap and balm  with the hashtag come clean about beauty.

The takeaway?

So the increase in green products and companies are understandable, but marketers need to get it right or risk putting the company at risk of having their reputation damaged permanently.

To increase consumer interest, marketing campaigns should primarily target younger consumers (18-34). They should focus on the short term benefits and lifestyle advantages of natural and organic products, in order to justify their generally higher price points.