The health-conscious consumer has gone mainstream. So has the exacting consumer. This is old news for the food industry, which has responded to demands for natural ingredients, more transparent labeling and convenience with a spate of new products, product extensions and packaging solutions. But today’s consumer has now trained her eye on beauty, with a focus on many of the same attributes. For players in the beauty space, studying recent food trends can provide insight into successful strategies for meeting new customer preferences and requirements.
Recent food trends that are now converging on beauty fall into three main categories. First is the rising importance of ingredients — consumers are reading the labels and ingredients are increasingly influencing purchase decisions. Second, consumers are looking for specific health attributes in the products they use — for example, vegan or gluten-free. Finally, on-the-go customers value convenience, which has had a major impact on packaging. This Executive Insights will explore each of these areas in greater detail, providing examples of how beauty companies are responding.
Ingredients: Out in the open
Consumers concerned about what they are putting into their bodies now have similar concerns about what they are putting onto their bodies. According to the Natural Marketing Institute, the “clean” customer segment makes up 24% of U.S. adults. It includes primarily mid- or high-income, multicultural, urban, college-educated, and under-35 consumers. The demographics of this segment are becoming more inclusive, with the largest increase in clean households over the past year in the 55-64 age group.
This growing consumer base is on the lookout for both beneficial ingredients and those they consider harmful. While many of the myths surrounding such ingredients in food have been disproven, concerns over others, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) or sugar substitutes, have meaningfully changed what the industry includes in its products.
The beauty industry has been handed its own “no-no” list — ingredients such as parabens, paraffin, hydroquinone, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, mineral oil and BHAs. Many in the industry have been quick to respond, and as a result growth in “free from” and “clean” labels has outpaced the broader beauty and personal care (BPC) category (see Figure 1).