The Asia region accounts for over 35% of the global natural and organic personal care market, and Japan is one of the major driving forces: in 2013, the trend saw sales rise steadily at 5% growth in the country, according to market research firm Kline.
“The market for natural personal care products in Japan experiences solid sales growth in relatively flat economic conditions,” market analysts confirm.
Indeed, one brand, Jurlique, saw sales jump about 1.4-fold last year compared to the previous year, the Chicago Tribune has reported.
Of the top five brands in the naturals segment in Japan, the majority are well-known brands from Europe: Britain's Lush and The Body Shop, and L'Occitane en Provence, from France.
However, domestic manufacturers are now catching up, with brands like Siashunkan and Noevir gaining strong market share.
Shiseido and Kose have acquired international brands in an effort to tap into the trend, with Shiseido now also devoting resources at its factory in Kakegawa to the production of natural ingredients.
Key drivers behind the rising consumer enthusiasm for the naturals trend across Asia include increased disposable incomes, increased urbanisation, rising health concerns and better-informed consumers.
Industry experts observe that the trend is being pushed by the brands as well as the consumers: sustainability and corporate social responsibility are major drivers in the use of green ingredients for many companies in this decade.
“The days of natural or organic for the sake of making such marketing claims seem to be drawing to a close,” Organic Monitor’s head, Judi Beerling, has observed.
“Not only is the ‘naturalness’ of ingredients important, but companies are also becoming concerned about a multitude of other issues,” she noted.
According to market researcher Frost & Sullivan, the natural and organic cosmetics market in Western Europe will rise to $800 million by 2017, and even higher in Asia.