Six natural and organic experts, six globally successful brands, six histories – one future
The global natural and organic industry is growing. It is currently estimated to be worth $9 billion, and by 2015 is projected to reach $14 billion, according to data from Organic Monitor. Not bad for a category that at one time was considered full of ‘insane’ hippy-types. Margo Marrone, founder of The Organic Pharmacy, says: “People thought I was mad when I started. It’s been wonderful to see the industry change over the years. Ten years ago I had to have all the extracts specially made for me because they all contained parabens and such like. Now when I go to a trade show everyone is offering a natural or organic alternative, which is refreshing.”
In the 1930’s and 40’s there was a surge in the number of synthetically produced products on the market, then sometime later a series of niche brands started to revert to naturally and organically derived products. Bare Escentuals, bareMinerals’ parent company, was established in 1976, The Body Shop opened its first Brighton store selling ethically-minded products in the same year, and a number of other brands established themselves in the years that followed. The 90’s and noughties then saw a boom in the number of consumers seeking natural and organic products, and with it came great developments in technology, and the ingredients and packaging options available to naturally-minded brands. Any customers who are wary of switching from a synthetic to an organic brand should consider these great innovations. Kenneth Grand, president of Earth Science Naturals, says: “In the olden days before companies like ours got sophisticated, there was a difference in natural versus conventional products. The look and feel of natural products was different. Now the natural products are just as good, or better, than all the rest!” Key developments in regulatory bodies and new packaging techniques have also progressed the industry further, Marrone says: “I think certification has been monumental in differentiating the genuine from the non-genuine and is vital to continue.” Claire Linney, marketing manager, Aveda UK & Ireland, adds: “Consumers are giving quite a lot of consideration to eco-packaging. Sugarcane or corn replacements for petroleum in plastics, biodegradable packaging and airless packaging that reduces the need for preservatives are examples of environmentally sensitive alternatives that have gained popularity.” But with so much growth already, where else is there for the natural and organic industry to go? Marrone hopes that brands will continue to turn to natural and organic formulas over synthetics, she says: “Organic is here to stay!”
Before we embark on whatever we are headed for in the popular and ever-changing natural and organic beauty world, we thought we’d take the time to look back at some of the most successful pioneers of the natural and organic beauty category.
Claire Linney, marketing manager, Aveda UK and Ireland
When was Aveda established and what was the original aim of the brand?
Aveda was founded in 1978 with the goal of providing beauty industry professionals with high-performance, plant-based products that were better for them, their guests and the planet.
How has the brand changed and developed as the years have passed?
More than thirty years after its founding, Aveda is still at the industry’s cutting edge — innovating in botanical technologies while pursuing an ambitious social and environmental agenda. Our brand values have only deepened over time. Aveda demonstrates that a manufacturing plant can provide habitat for native wildlife, be produced with 100% renewable energy, and sell high-performance, botanically-based products – delivered in beautiful, post-consumer recycled packaging.
How do you think the natural and organic industry differs now from before?
Natural and organic products have become much more accessible; consumers no longer need to seek them out in niche channels like natural food stores and spas.
What are the biggest challenges you as a natural brand, and the natural and organic industry face?
Inconsistent international regulation and cost-efficient and sustainable ingredient sourcing are on-going challenges. Sourcing of natural ingredients can be particularly dicey, given the disruption that can be caused by natural disasters like flooding, drought or powerful storms.
NEOM Luxury Organics
Nicola Elliott, founder and director, NEOM Luxury Organics
What inspired the creation of NEOM Luxury Organics?
I launched NEOM in 2005 when I was working as an editor for Glamour magazine. I was choosing a gift for my sister who has always been big on ‘being green’ and I wanted to buy her a luxe gift that was also organic, but to no avail. I found that I had to choose between products that were either organic, but none-too-glamorous and certainly didn’t smell so great or act effectively, and products that looked pretty but were full of harsh chemicals and synthetic scents. So I decided to create something myself on the premise that it had to be luxurious, effective and organic. Today, we’re constantly working on creating new products that fit into our customers’ modern, stylish lives, never compromising on efficacy or organic status.
How have the brand’s values changed, or adapted to the market, as time has gone on?
The NEOM business has grown but one thing that will never change is our dedication to offering effective, luxurious and organic products. We never compromise on the quality of our ingredients and never bring to market a product that is less than 70% organic. We have, of course, learnt to realise our market and spend a lot of time in open dialogue with our customers, who help us steer in the right direction and stay current in the market.
What developments within the natural and organic category, and in the beauty industry as a whole, have influenced the brand?
The popularity of Reed Diffusers. At first we weren’t sure whether launching these would work. However they sell just as well as our cult candles and the best thing about them is that they’re so flexible. Try out one in your hallway for amazing scent when you walk through the door, or try scenting your closet – it makes your clothes smell gorgeous!
Kenneth Grand, president, Earth Science Naturals
When was Earth Science established?
The company was founded in 1981 by a leading cosmetic chemist. I purchased Earth Science in 2002 and since the acquisition it has been updated to make the packaging as appealing as the formulas inside.
What was the original aim of the brand?
The chemist who established the brand in 1981 was inspired by his vision to create outstanding natural products without animal ingredients or testing; products as good or better than their synthetic rivals. The brand pioneered alternative natural preservatives like grapefruit seed extract and citric acid, and anti-oxidants like beta-carotene, ginseng and vitamin E. Earth Science was the first to use lichen extract in deodorant, a natural anti-bacterial; azulene, the concentrated extract of blue chamomile flowers, to reduce skin irritation; and was one of the first laboratories to use hyaluronic acid, nature’s most perfect moisture binder.
What challenges have you faced in the development of the brand and its products?
One challenge is finding expertise. The big suppliers that we depend on are more knowledgeable about synthetics; it was an underground group who were the pioneers of natural. However, the lack of skillset is changing. The industry growth and demand is there and people and resources are evolving. The innovation of ingredients is a huge part. Natural and organic ingredients that were hard to find, or too expensive to use, are now widely available.
The Organic Pharmacy
Margo Marrone, founder, The Organic Pharmacy
Why did you decide to open The Organic Pharmacy?
The Organic Pharmacy opened in 2002 and our aim was to bring the best products, advice and treatments free from all the toxic ingredients commonly found in mainstream cosmetics and health products and to really give the customer a unique experience that will enhance their quality of life. The stores have expert advice from qualified pharmacists, homeopaths and beauty therapists and are about making the customer feel good. We want to ensure they leave with solid, honest advice and having had a wonderful experience.
How do you think natural and organic consumers’ needs, likes and dislikes have changed over time?
Consumers are much more aware of ingredients and will check and ask what’s in your product. Ultimately the consumer wants a product that works, is pleasant to use and is healthy. They don’t want to move backwards to old-fashioned formulations but want modern textures that feel good and work. 12 years ago they may have made do with something that wasn’t quite there yet in terms of smell, texture and packaging.
How do you think certification has affected the natural and organic industry?
When we first opened our store there was no Soil Association Certification and we laid out our own principles. A few months later the certification came out and although it’s not a compulsory certification, we chose to become certified to set us apart from the ‘natural’ and non certified organic brands. I do think it increases the trust in this category and is essential.
Andrew Rogers, marketing director, bareMinerals
What was the concept behind bareMinerals when it was originally established?
Bare Escentuals – the parent company of the bareMinerals brand – started in 1976 with a chain of bath and body stores in the San Francisco bay area. It was in 1994, when Leslie Blodgett, the brand’s executive chairman, joined the company that she developed the bareMinerals range of products as we know them today – starting with our award-winning foundation. Leslie wanted to challenge the traditional foundations that were available to women back then. She did this by creating make up that behaved like skincare, that could actually be good for your skin and without the harsh chemicals that were in many of the products of the time.
How has the brand grown and developed as time has gone on?
At the heart of everything we do is the transformational power of minerals and this has continued to be our guiding principle as we have moved into new product categories. We consider ourselves to be experts in the use of minerals and the benefits they have for the skin. Also key to the success of bareMinerals is the close relationship we have with our community of customers. We hear from them every day how bareMinerals has changed the way they feel – not just about their make up, but about themselves. While distribution may have changed, our values have remained the same.
What consumer and market trends have influenced the brand?
As pioneers in mineral make up we have seen many other companies join us using minerals in their formulas and starting to see the benefits they can provide. This has been a significant trend over the last decade. There has also been a trend for customers looking for high performing skincare, and so when we developed and launched bareMinerals skincare in 2011, we had to ensure that the formulas we created provided excellent skin-renewing benefits while being powered by more natural ingredients. Our Active Soil Complex comes from organic soil and contains a blend of over 70 macro and micro minerals – it delivers incredible results.
The Body Shop
Simon Coble, general manager, The Body Shop UK; Paul McGreevy, director of values and R&D, The Body Shop International; and Sophie Gasperment, executive chairman, The Body Shop
When was the body shop first set up and by who?
The very first The Body Shop opened its doors for business at nine o’clock Saturday on 27 March, 1976 at 22 Kensington Gardens, Brighton by British entrepreneur Anita Roddick.
What gap in the market did The Body Shop want to satisfy and what was Anita’s personal reason for doing so?
Anita’s simple idea that ‘being good is good for business’ enabled The Body Shop to become a leader in the trend towards greater corporate transparency, and has been a force for positive social and environmental change through its lobbying and campaigning programmes. This has seen The Body Shop launch campaigns that aim to promote human rights, protect animals and the environment, and boost self-esteem.
How have The Body Shop’s environmental campaigns helped shape the brand and influence the beauty market?
The Body Shop pioneered Corporate Social Responsibility with Anita’s unique philosophy about business being ‘a force of good,’ and this continues to drive everything we do, allowing customers around the world to become ‘activists’ simply by choosing from our range of products. The Body Shop changed the way consumers think about animal testing in the cosmetics industry. The store never has and never will test on animals, and neither will we commission others to do so on our behalf. The Body Shop was the first international cosmetics brand to be awarded the Humane Cosmetics Standard for its Against Animal Testing policy.
We answer your customers’ commonly asked natural and organic questions
What is a natural product?
Natural products contain ingredients that occur naturally in the world, but which may have been grown with the use of pesticides or chemicals. Many natural beauty brands try to use environmentally friendly production processes and packaging.
What is an organic product?
The ingredients in organic products have been grown naturally and without the use of pesticides, synthetic chemicals, irradiation or genetically modified organisms. They have to adhere to strict rules during all processes of production, from growing to packaging.
How can I tell if a product is truly natural or organic?
Check for certification, and read the label. Organisations such as EcoCert, COSMOS and the Soil Association typically certify organic products, but also advise your customer to read up on any synthetic ingredients they don’t like, and they can check a product’s label to check whether or not they have been used, or in what quantity, as ingredients with the highest quantities are listed first.