The market may only be the fraction the size of Europe and North America, but the opportunities for natural and organic cosmetics are only beginning for Asia.
Growing Asian market
According to Ecovia Intelligence, the Asian market for natural and organic cosmetics was valued at $652m in 2017 and it is expected to continue growing at a fast rate.
“Asian consumers are becoming more aware of synthetic chemicals in cosmetics and toiletries and they are turning to natural and organic cosmetics which they consider safer for human health,” explains Amarjit Sahota, President and Founder of Ecovia Intelligence.
Sahota added that many Asian consumers turn to natural and organic products as they are seen as premium products, and brands like Australia’s Jurlique have noted that Asia is their biggest export market.
Among the Asian countries’ China has the fastest growing market. Rising awareness of organic and natural products, along with the growing spending power of Chinese consumers is driving sales.
This happening despite the fact that many ethical brands have called for a boycott of selling in China because of the controversial compulsory animal-testing laws.
Rise of Asian brands
While the landscape of natural and organic products is dominated by western brands, many homegrown Asian brands have entered the market over the last five years.
Not only are large beauty conglomerates like Amorepacific developing their own organic-certified lines, small beauty start-ups are setting up shop in the natural and organic beauty space.
Sahota highlighted Katfood, a Singapore-based brand. Founded in 2014, the brand formulates its products with food-grade ingredients. The products are freshly handmade and do not contain any chemical preservatives.
Another brand with roots in Asia is Skin Dewi, an Indonesian brand which launched only last year with a range of healing products that are made with organic-certified ingredients.
New companies who which to enter the lucrative natural and organic market in Asia will find themselves facing many obstacles, said Sahota.
One of which is greenwashing, a term used to describe marketing that deceptively promotes products with very little natural ingredients as natural and environmentally-friendly.
Sahota further explained that some brands slap on self-designated green logos and seals to give the impression of their products being natural, even though they clearly contain synthetic chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, and sodium lauryl sulfate.
“Whereas advertising authorities clamp down on such greenwashing in Europe and North America, this is not the case in Asia,” said Sahota. “Competing with such false green claims is a major challenge for legitimate natural or organic brands in Asia. There have also been instances of counterfeiting and trading-off in Asia.”
To learn more about the trends and challenges of the market for natural and organic cosmetics, Amarjit Sahota will be speaking in detail at the Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, hosted in Hong Kong from November 12 to 13.