Survey Finds South African Women Want Natural Ingredients

On March 31, 2011, the third day of In-Cosmetics in Milan, Sybille Buchwald-Werner from Vital Solutions gave a marketing presentation on the cosmetic market and ingredient trends in South Africa. Rather than focusing solely on the country of South Africa, Buchwald-Werner spoke of the South African region, including the countries Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa and Namibia. 

Buchwald-Werner began by noting that South Africa has a diverse population with combinations of different ethnic groups and cultures. She added that there are also social distinctions with regard to income, connection to infrastructure, and access to education and health care; however, the region reportedly has an increasing demand from the emerging middle class for cosmetic products.

The personal care market was estimated at €2.47 billion in 2007, according to the Research Wikis referenced by Buchwald-Werner, and Euromonitor recorded double-digit growth for the region in 2009. A few large cosmetics manufacturers such as Unilever and Johnson & Johnson offer locally produced personal care products in South Africa. In addition, companies such as Beiersdorf, Henkel, L’Oréal and Shiseido provide products in that region.

Buchwald-Werner conducted a survey of consumers in the South African region to find out more about their relationship with cosmetics, including questions related to their budget, preference for natural ingredients and knowledge of ingredients, among others. The women surveyed were of varying races and cultural backgrounds.

Results indicated that South African women spend an average of 2% of their income on cosmetics and they purchase them primarily to reward themselves as a gift and for their own personal use. Buchwald-Werner noted that lower income individuals were found to spend a higher percentage on cosmetic products than higher incomes but added, "They are really spending the same amount of money, but because they make less, the percentage of their income is higher. Key drivers behind their decision to purchase a product included natural ingredients, active ingredients/performance and price. In terms of criteria used by the women for choosing a cosmetic product, they find natural ingredients, herbal ingredients and natural oils of the highest importance.

When surveyed about their awareness of extracts, the women were most aware of aloe vera, Devil's claw, grape seed, green tea and rooibus extracts, with chamomile, ginseng, kigelia and seaweed extracts following closely behind. Of these extracts, aloe vera, kigelia, Devil's claw and rooibus are all locally sourced. When asked what their cosmetic products contained, most of the women responded aloe vera, calendula and rooibus, as well as grape seed, green tea and arnica following closely behind.

The women also were surveyed regarding their awareness of natural oils, and those most known were marula, almond and avocado. In addition, Kalahari melon, jojoba and shea butter oil were noted. Interestingly, more women were aware of the various oils than were aware of the various extracts formulated into cosmetic products and of the oils mentioned, women noted their products contained marula, almond and shea butter oils, and to a lesser extent, baobab, jojoba and avocado. Of these oils, baobab and marula are locally sourced.

The women were also surveyed regarding their awareness of actives and were found to be most knowledgeable of vitamins A, C and E, followed by soy, wheat and milk proteins. However, when asked what actives their cosmetic products contain, a large portion of the women reported vitamins A, C and E. Buchwald-Werner noted that in regards to active in cosmetic products in South Africa, the consumer "needs to be told" on the product's packaging and marketing.

Finally, when surveyed about their expectations for cosmetic products for skin, both black and white women in the region responded that they desire anti-aging, calming and moisturizing benefits the most. Regarding hair products, both black and white women in the region desired conditioning, hair breakage prevention and anti-dandruff, while white women in the area also desired shine products. For body care, both black and white women in the region desired cleansing, moisturizing and fragrance. Interestingly, more black women in the region desired fragrance and more white women in the area desired firming in their body care.

Buchwald-Werner noted that South Africa is a growing cosmetic market with opportunity for cosmetic manufacturers. She recommended formulating products for South Africa with natural ingredients (specifically oils), the right fragrance, for multiple ethnicities, with moisturizing claims, and with compelling marketing for high performance actives. Without compelling marketing, Buchwald-Werner noted that there is no need for high performance in the region. Formulators can therefore use these recommendations to create products tailored toward the needs of female consumers in this region.

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