You can’t get around this trend in the cosmetic industry. Natural, green, organic, sustainable, etc. They are here to stay and will affect your formulation efforts in the future.
According to this story in Cosmetic Design, there is a new socially responsible consumer group emerging and they are willing to pay extra for products they think are more sustainable. According to the article, Nielsen did a study that showed most of these consumers are under 40 years old and they are looking to the Internet to determine whether a product is made by a company who practices fair trade and is committed to sustainability.
So, what does this mean for cosmetic chemists?
Well, you’re going to have to start pressing your suppliers to give you more information about the history of the raw materials that they provide. You’ll have to get assurances that they practice fair trade and achieve certain sustainability requirements. Incidentally, if your company sells to Walmart, you’re going to have to get this information anyway. The days of focusing solely on new benefits are coming to an end. I anticipate this will reduce innovation at least as far as performance goes. Overall, it should be better for the environment though.
But color me skeptical on the emergence of a new consumer.
It has been my experience that consumers will not sacrifice performance for any other attribute. If you make a product that performs better than all your competition in a way that consumers would notice, they’ll buy it. But if people can’t tell a difference between what you make and your competitors make, then they’ll pick the more sustainable/environmentally friendly option.
If you don’t want to spend time creating more sustainable cosmetics, then you better come up with something that is a lot better than everyone else’s products.