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New Study Reveals Buying Habits of Natural Beauty Consumer

Mary Bemis

Stats from a new report showcase the buying habits of the natural and organic beauty product consumer.

Among the many highlights of this year’s Cosmoprof North America, was the exclusive unveiling of an interesting new report, “The New Age of Naturals,” by The Benchmarking Company. Jennifer Stansbury, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, presented the findings during my panel, Green Beauty Brand Building.

Among the new report’s findings, what was most surprising to Stansbury? “That the natural/organic consumer has large knowledge gaps regarding what qualifies as a natural/organic product, misperceptions about the safety of traditional products, and a blind faith that natural/organic products are safe,” she told me. Add to that the fact that there is a widely held belief that natural/organic brands do not test on animals.

The global natural/organic and personal-care market is expected to reach $25 billion+ by 2025—with an expected 10% increase alone in the natural/organic skincare sector between 2016 and 2025.

Also surprising to Stansbury is the fact that while natural/organic consumers have high ethical and social expectations of natural and organic brands, very few, if any have those expectations of traditional brands. “The majority of survey respondents say it is important that the brand be green, eco-friendly, pay a fair wage to employees, not test on animals and have full ingredient transparency,” she noted.

According to industry research, the global natural/organic and personal-care market is expected to reach $25 billion+ by 2025—with an expected 10% increase alone in the natural/organic skincare sector between 2016 and 2025. Here are the key highlights of “The New Age of Naturals,” that Stansbury shared.

Who is the natural/organic consumer?

•She seeks the truth

  • •91% believe it is important that the brand lists all of its product ingredients clearly on its website

•She is principled

  • •81% believe it is important that the brand does not test on animals

•She is socially aware

  • •72% believe it is important to the brand pays a living wage to all employees
  • •71% believe it is important for the brand to be socially and environmentally responsible

•She is concerned for the health of our environment

  • •76% believe it is important the brand is “green” and eco-friendly

Efficacy still rules

Like all beauty and personal-care shoppers, she expects the product to work and she wants to see proof in the form of scientific data, consumer claims, and product reviews. Fifty-two percent (52%) of natural/organic BPC buyers expect product efficacy to be backed by scientific evidence. Positive consumer claims and online product reviews are essential for 86%—she won’t even entertain the thought of buying a new beauty or personal-care brand without them!

Natural/organic buyer cares about her health & ingredient transparency

More than 90% of consumers expect your brand to list all ingredients clearly on the package, but she is also looking for this information on your website. At least three out of four women expect the bottle/box to detail expected results or benefits of the product. And when she’s reading, she’s looking for the items that are important to her: from an ingredient list (70%); to an indication that the product is BPA free (67%); to messages about who the product is intended for (63%), i.e. people with fine hair; to validation that the product is free of chemicals thought to be hazardous to her health (59%).

Clear misperceptions regarding natural/organic classifications

While nearly three-quarters (73%) of all respondents said they understand the difference between a product deemed as natural or organic versus a synthetically made product, only 56% of all females surveyed said they understand the difference between a product calling itself natural versus one with calling itself organic.

Although the federal government has clearly defined standards that a product must meet in order to be certified organic, it does not have a formal definition of “natural,” and brands can self-determine whether their products will be marketed as “natural.” Additionally, creative packaging has led to the use of phrases such as “organic ingredients” and “all natural,” as well as the use of brand-created logos, seals, and emblems that are not backed by any specific certification, however lead the consumer to believe they are official certifications from one regulatory body or another.

So where does Stansbury see the future of green beauty? “As governmental standards are set as to what qualifies as a natural/organic product, I believe we will see a thinning out of brands that claim to be natural/organic. That said, companies that are committed to meeting these standards will have a leg up because the demand for these products is continuously building.” The brands that will prosper, believes Stansbury, are those that work to continually educate their consumers on the benefits of natural/organic and openly share with the consumer the ingredients in the products, while bringing to market highly efficacious products.


Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis is editorial director of She is an award-winning spa journalist, honored with Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and the distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She sits on the board of Wellness Warrior, is a Global Wellness Day Advisor and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.