As organic cosmetics take off in Asia, experts report 'greenwashing' issues

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

As organic cosmetics take off in Asia, experts report 'greenwashing' issues

Related tags Organic cosmetics Cosmetics Marketing Brand

Although various green brands have boycotted China, Organic Monitor reports that the market remains the most prominent in Asia, which also brings its own challenges.

In spite of numerous green companies steering clear of doing business in China, high-end brands are attracted to the rising purchasing power of its consumers.

Japan is the second largest market for natural & organic cosmetics while concept stores are tipped to be the most important channel for purchases.

Many Western and Asian companies are even investing in stand-alone stores or salons for their companies. 

Standards are becoming increasingly important, with a growing number of brands taking the certification route. Ecocert standards are the most popular, having the highest adoption rate amongst Asian brands.

However, there's an issue with legitimate claims..

Despite various retailers requesting certification to ‘legitimise’ marketing claims, industry watchdog Organic Monitor believes Asia is rife with brands making false natural / organic marketing claims.

The consulting company tells this publication that 'greenwashing' is a major challenge for natural and organic brands in the region, with some placing fake logos and symbols on product packs.

"As a consequence, there is a high level of consumer confusion about natural and organic cosmetic ingredients," ​Organic Monitor analysts report. 

The firm also flags up marketing as another major hurdle, with many brands not effectively communicating their green credentials.

To help the industry to overcome these challenges, Organic Monitor will be hosting dedicated workshops in Asia later this year.

Natural and organic cosmetics in Asia

Whether working out, meditating or making healthy purchasing decisions, consumers today are taking better care of their health. This shift in behaviour has impacted the cosmetics industry, particularly with organic or natural demand.

The demand for organic cosmetics has been especially robust in ASEAN as the raw materials that manufacturers need are easily available. 

Future Market Insights associate consultant Vipassa Kakroo tells that the retail sectors in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are particularly expected to increase the growth of premium and specialised organic cosmetics.

The organic cosmetics sector in ASEAN is anticipated to expand at 9.5% CAGR and reach US$ 4.4 billion by 2020.

"In terms of segments,​ hair care accounted for a market share of nearly 28% of the total organic cosmetics market in 2013 and is expected to be worth US$1.2 billion by 2020,​" says the researcher.

Key brands dominating this segment include Estée Lauder, L'Oreal, Weleda and L'Occitane, which are diversifying their product portfolios, especially with male care.

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