Chinese consumers embrace the natural trend

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Natural ingredients, Procter & gamble, Cosmetics

Demand is growing for natural cosmetics in China, driven by a
traditional preference for natural ingredients and the fear of
toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

Increasing numbers of natural product releases from both local and international players are hitting the Chinese market, according to Euromonitor. Conversely, there appears to be a lack of organic ingredients entering the market, which may be a while coming according to Diana Dodson, senior market analyst at the company. "This [organic cosmetics ingredients] will take longer I think, as it is still quite a new concept in food at this stage. In 2006 the organic packaged food market reached $1.2 million (RMB10.1 billion)"​ she said. Regarding natural cosmetics, Dodson told CosmeticsDesign.com that one of the main reasons behind the trend was "a growing awareness of the potential dangers of chemical-based products, something which really came into the spotlight earlier this year with the Chinese toothpaste recalls​". On June 1st​ of this year the FDA issued a warning to consumers regarding Chinese toothpaste, over a worry that it may contain traces of the toxic chemical DEG. This was followed in early July by an EU wide alert when Spain found two Chinese brands contained the banned substance. Consumer confidence in the Chinese personal care industry took a significant hit as a result of the recalls, perhaps increasing consumer demand for products with fewer chemicals and more natural ingredients. According to Dodson, manufacturers are increasingly emphasising the natural ingredients contained in their products, which consumers appear to regard as a guarantee against harmful effects. Notable releases include Proctor and Gamble's Olay Herbal Intensive Body products and Unilever's Lux range with natural ingredients. Offerings from domestic players include Guangxi Aoqili's Tian Qi Herbal Essence toothpaste and Zhong Hua Herbal Refreshing toothpaste. An additional driver of the trend, highlighted by Euromonitor, is a traditional preference for natural ingredients stemming back to ancient Chinese medical practices. "Salt is traditionally trusted for cleaning teeth, while herbs offer a natural proposition and tie into traditional Chinese medicine"​, said Dodson. Indeed, herbal and salt flavours were increasingly popular in toothpaste in 2006, with all of the major players offering a salt variant by that year. A further factor that adds impetus to the growing trend is the increased socioeconomic power of certain sectors of the society, who are willing to pay more for products with natural and healthy attributes. Chinese economic growth​ has been hovering at around the 10 per cent market for more than two years, fuelling a huge boom in consumer spending that has given a major boost to the fast moving consumer goods sector. Latest statistics from market research provider TNS, suggest that current growth in the market for cosmetics​ and personal care goods is set to make it the world's largest market by 2009, when it is expected to oust the US market from the number one position.

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