Chinese consumers are “all-in on naturals”

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Chinese consumers are “all-in on naturals”
Global marketing strategy consultancy, Clear, conducts study to explore how Chinese, US and UK brands are drawing in loyal consumers in the natural cosmetics segment, and how Chinese traditional remedies are proving a source of inspiration.

Despite its “many peaks and troughs within the skin care industry, for some reason, natural products seem to be bucking the trend”​, Clear stated in a recent press release.

“The consumers we interviewed seem to suggest that the era of artificial ingredients is over: with nearly 70% citing the ingredients of a product as a main determiner in purchasing more natural goods,”​ it continued.  

Research study

The study was designed to determine “how brands are winning and losing the battle for revenues and relevance”​ in the natural cosmetics segment.

To gather information and insights, Clear conducted an online survey with 3,055 respondents in China, the US and the UK to explore perspectives on natural products and how different categories and brands are perceived from a ‘naturalness’ perspective.

Conducted in March and April 2018, the study’s respondents rated a total of 470 brands.

Key findings

Globally, natural skin care purchases are up with over 3 in 4 global consumers buying natural products within the last 12 months.

Over 65% of consumers surveyed are worried about the negative effects of artificial ingredients, indicating how products featuring artificial ingredients will continue to decline.

Of those asked, 52% of consumers said they will pay more for natural products. Natural products also indicate safety and quality with 72% of women believing natural products are safer for them and their families and 66% of consumers believing natural products are of better quality.

Natural and organic products show no signs of slowing down or losing popularity with consumers as they are expected to grow 8% year on year through to 2022, compared to only 5% for artificial alternatives.

When it comes to China, 69% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for a completely natural product.

Marketing naturals products

“Brands that establish their natural credentials across the customer experience can tap into a more affluent, more engaged audience who are willing to pay more for the all-natural experience,”​ encouraged Damian Symons, Global CEO at Clear.

Focusing on how to connect with consumers, Symons emphasises: “But authenticity matters – this audience is more informed, more engaged and more cynical than ever – so it’s no longer enough to be non-GMO or have some natural ingredients – to win in naturals, brands need to commit across every touchpoint.”

Winning brands in the field of natural cosmetics invest beyond ingredients. They understand the importance of communicating clearly and carefully about their production processes, environmental care efforts, consumer health and their supply chains. There is alignment between the expectation forged in brand communications and the experiences that they deliver.

Survey topics focused on attitudes to life and attitudes to ‘naturals’; how familiar they are with certain categories and what is most important when they are purchasing; how engaged they are with certain brands; how natural they considered specific brands and why they considered some of these to be more natural than others, and; how brands delivered against core brand drivers such as efficacy, sensorial, brand personality and being ‘good for you’.

Building a brand

With efficacy increasingly important to consumers, Clear highlighted how as skin care is an established area, “we must look beyond improving natural ingredients and sensorial experiences. Untapped opportunities lie in unique distribution channels and traditional remedy stories”.

Looking to the future of the naturals market, these opportunities will revolve around where it is experienced, through creating direct to consumer channels that focus on the value of local sourcing or independence benefits; how it is packaged to maximise semiotic natural cues; and the image and personality of the brand, particularly taking inspiration from Chinese traditional remedies in developing markets.

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