Why are consumers so inclined to buy naturals? The answers seem simple but recent studies suggest there’s more to this consumer behavior than meets the eye. The apparent safety of naturals is, of course, one driver. Market research firm Million Insights projects a 5% growth for naturals between 2019 and 2025* based on millennials and their “rising awareness about the adverse effects of synthetic cosmetics.”1 A study from Szent István University in Hungary2 also underlined the trend for health and environmental awareness as a driver. Additionally, it identified confusion and mistrust in “organic” and “natural” labels, likely due to the lack of industry-wide regulation.
The positive mental and emotional feedback consumers get from purchasing these products—reinforced by social messaging—also perpetuates the buying cycle. A study of green purchasing behavior of Malaysian consumers3 revealed hedonic values have a significant and positive effect on consumers’ pro-environmental beliefs, these beliefs positively affect their personal norm, and as a consequence, their personal norm affects green purchasing behavior.3
There’s also clear social pressure to buy naturals. A 2019 study from Uppsala University in Sweden4 found a sampling of regional consumers had uncertain attitudes toward buying naturals, which did not impact purchasing behavior. Perceived social pressures from family, relatives, groups, etc., however, had a definite positive impact. More knowledge about products also was identified as a need, which the authors proposed harmonized certification could address.
This issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries is all about naturals, and especially connects with the call for certification; from sustainability, green and cruelty-free, to USDA BioPreferred. Also presented are natural and sustainable ingredients including a wild rosella osmolyte for skin hydration; taurate biosurfactant for mild cleansing; and Piper betel leaf extract for aromatic, antimicrobial and even UV-protective benefits.
We additionally examine the impact of COVID-19 on the naturals segment, and tap into an as-yet largely unexplored area for anti-aging and antiviral skin defense: immunosenescence. Finally, our Special Focus report shines a light on the altruistic and R&D efforts put forth by the industry to respond to COVID-19. We hope the concepts and solutions presented here ease the pressure for naturals you face in cosmetics R&D.
Rachel L. Grabenhofer, Managing Editor