According to a recently released Sustainable Beauty Report from consumer intelligence company NIQ, "sustainability is top of mind for beauty consumers, and they are overwhelmingly putting their dollars behind their interest in the cause." Sustainable beauty, which is defined in the report as referring to "products that are environmentally friendly, ethically sourced, and promote social responsibility," includes products that use "environmentally friendly ingredients, eco-friendly packaging, cruelty-free and ethical testing," or support "fair trade and ethical sourcing, reduced carbon footprint, and conscience consumerism."
As an offshoot of the clean beauty movement, "we expect this trend in innovation to continue as alternative forms and refillable packaging spread across all categories of beauty and personal care," the report said. Anna Mayo, VP of Beauty Thought Leadership at NIQ, added, "NIQ has explored the clean beauty trend frequently in the past, so it was interesting to switch focus and dive deeper into sustainability trends." Further, she said, "It is becoming more and more relevant to the beauty industry, and it's a trend that we expect to see continue."
To learn more about the impact of sustainable beauty on the cosmetics and personal care product industry, including the report's key takeaways and the ways that cosmetics and personal care manufacturers and suppliers can leverage the report's findings toward future innovation in ingredient and product formulations, CosmeticsDesign spoke to Mayo for her insights.
Report & key takeaways
To compile the report, Mayo explained, NIQ analysts "used a few different NIQ resources to create the story," which included "a combination of survey data, NIQ Panel consumer segmentation, Label Insights, Label Insights trending search, and NIQ RMS." Insights from the report include examining the escalating consumer demand for sustainable product options, retailers' key role as the "face of brands" to consumers, and the evolution of clean and sustainable beauty.
Regarding the key takeaways from the report, "a big takeaway from this report is that sustainability is becoming increasingly important to consumers," said Mayo. The data revealed that "they are more aware of the issue and can see the effects in the world around them," she added that "consumers want to make more sustainable choices, but sometimes things like cost or product availability can hinder their efforts."
Further, she continued, "this movement towards a more sustainable lifestyle can certainly be seen in the beauty category." The report's findings reflect that "we have seen an evolution in consumer behavior from first wanting products that have perceived 'harmful' ingredients removed and now building on top of that, we are seeing consumers looking for sustainable products from both an environmental and social perspective," she shared.
Additionally, one of the most unexpected findings in the report is that "62% of consumers stated that sustainability is MORE important to them than it was two years ago," Mayo revealed. "It's surprising that so many consumers are already shifting their perspective and reporting that sustainability is of growing importance," she said, and "this statistic speaks to the importance of this growing trend."
Applying report findings to cosmetics and PBC manufacturers and suppliers
Manufacturers and suppliers of the cosmetics and personal beauty care product industries need to understand these findings and leverage them in future ingredient and product formulation processes. "Sustainability is already a big trend for beauty that will continue to be relevant in the future," said Mayo, and "the findings in this report help solidify the importance of understanding this growing trend and how it is shaping consumers' ever-changing needs."
Therefore, she continued, "Consumers need clear messaging from manufacturers on how their products are going to help them reach their own personal sustainability goals." In the report, when asked which groups should be the most responsible for making progress on sustainability in your market (in the US), 54% of respondents indicated that brands are the most responsible for sustainable progress. Because "beauty is a fast-paced, dynamic category where innovation is a key driver of growth," said Mayo, companies in this category must focus on sustainability as a critical driver of expansion.
For example, she shared, "we are already seeing a lot of innovation in the sustainability space with various forms like bar shampoo/conditioner or refillables in multiple categories." Additionally, she said, "we are also seeing a lot of brands making animal welfare a priority by releasing products that are vegan and cruelty free," and "we expect to see manufacturers recognize the importance of sustainability to consumers and continue to make products that will allow consumers to make more sustainable choices."
In its conclusion, the Sustainable Beauty Report asks, "As a manufacturer or retailer, how can you make the shopping process easier for your consumers, while reassuring them that you are taking steps to protect both the planet and their health?" While the answer to this question may look different for every company in the cosmetics and personal beauty care product industries, it's clear that the consumer demand for sustainable products will likely continue to grow.
For NIQ, "sustainability is proving to be a trend that we will continue to see," and therefore, "NIQ will be monitoring closely as a result of this report," Mayo concluded.