We spoke to Dr. Frauke Neuser, principal scientist for Olay Skin Care, who highlighted the work she is doing in the area of advancing skin care formulations as part of the fight against damage caused by pollution.
In the first of a two part interview, we find out about how P&G is targeting further developments for its anti-pollution skin care ranges in Asia Pacific, and also find out how there are plans afoot to put the category firmly on the radar in other global regions.
China and India have the biggest pollution problem
Dr. Neuser first explains how the problem of pollution has evolved in the urban areas of Asia and how it has turned into an issue that consumers now want to protect themselves from.
“Undoubtedly the problem is more severe in many of the big, industrialized cities across Asia, but the problem is a worldwide one. The growing impact of pollution is underlined by real-time websites and apps that measure pollution in an effort to warn people of the potential hazards.
“The problem used to be associated with the bigger industrialized urban areas in China, but now there are an increasing number of urban areas in India where the problem is really becoming significant.”
Awareness of air pollution grows beyond Asia
But as the problem spreads throughout Asia, it is also creeping into other regions, even in Europe and North America, where air pollution has not been such a significant issue in the last few decades.
“In the US it tends to be the West coast where the problem is worst, invariably due to the warmer weather, which is the same all over the world as pollution tends to be worse in cities with hot weather.”
P&G survey showed pollution perception highest in Asia
P&G personal care executives see pollution as a significant issue in the skin care category of the future, and has been investing in research and development in an attempt at getting a clearer picture of the problem.
“We conducted a survey to find out what the perception of pollution was in relation to skin care. We discovered that in China, 97% of respondents said that pollution was a problem, whereas in the West it averaged about 50%, with only 30% of respondents in the UK citing it as a problem,” said Neuser.
As the problem of pollution grows worldwide, it seems logical that awareness should also increase, something Neuser believes will soon be comparable to how UV awareness has impacted the skin care category.
“I see the issue as being comparable to UV awareness. It took about 30 years for most consumers to get the message about awareness of the potential damage caused by UV rays. The issue of pollution and its effect on the skin is now out there, but it will be some years before consumers are fully aware of it, particularly in the West.
“Perhaps in the future we may see a pollution factor warning, similar to the UV warnings that are given as part of weather forecasts. There is no specific or official measure for pollution yet, but something on the lines of the Environmental Protection Factor (EPF) may gather momentum in the future.”
The second part of this interview will be published tomorrow and will take a close look at the skin care lines P&G has developed specifically to tackle the problem of pollution.