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First Food, Then Clothing and Now Natural Cosmetics

18 February, 2015

Homo Naturals product / Homo Naturals

Natural cosmetics sales around the world are forecast to grow by around 350% by 2020 and bring in €14 billion in revenue.

“People who buy organic clothing also buy organic cosmetics and, of course, will want to find paint for their houses that is organic. Consumers started off considering what they ate, then became aware of the clothes they wore and are now starting to think about what they use on their skin,” explains Santi Mallorquí, head of the company Organic Cotton Colors.  The firm has been established for 25 years and, in accordance with what Mallorquí says, started out producing organic cotton clothing but the product lines it offers now also include cosmetics made entirely from natural oils and essences.

The early days

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the food sector timidly began to call for organic produce in response to the profound industrialisation processes in Europe and the US. Towards the 1960s, there was an institutionalisation of movements claiming organic production and locally sourced food. The first projects in ecological and sustainable fashion began to emerge around these organisations.

With the change of century, during the first decade of the 2000s, there was a veritable explosion in both the demand and production of all sorts of offerings within the organic and natural category – the final name still depends today on the country where they are found.

That was when the cosmetics subsector was established, which, according to the study Organic 3.0, published by the Austrian research centre Zukunftsinstitut Österreich GmbH, is experiencing strong growth brought about by an increasingly better-informed public.

Catalonia has not been immune to this activity and various brands have been established here in the past five years which aim to offer the public cosmetics based only on natural products that preserve the basic values of the ‘organic’ label.

Organic and Catalonia

One example is Homo Naturals, which entered the market in April 2012 under Robert Vinyes. The firm expects to have 20 references by the end of the year, having started out with just four, and already has 500 retail outlets across Spain and a further 100 on international markets. Vinyes stresses that his products “are made in Barcelona and are 100% natural”. Indeed, and as the Zukunftsinstitut Österreich GmbH study recommends, Homo Naturals closes the circle by not only guaranteeing a natural product but striving to offer sustainable and recyclable packaging made from glass and cardboard. “Glass is the most innocuous material and the one most respectful with the environment. We use top-quality certified Bio glass from Germany that is free of heavy minerals like lead”.

Germany is the European leader, followed by France, in the sales of natural cosmetics. The two countries together make up 30% of world demand for these products. The ranking is, however, led by the US, with 35% of the market share, according to figures from the consultancy firm Grand View Research included in the  “Global Organic Personal Care Market Analysis And Segment Forecasts To 2020” study.  This report serves as a reference for the organisers of Biofach, the world’s leading organic food trade fair, held in Germany, which also includes Vivaness, the benchmark fair comprising solely natural cosmetics.

As the head of the Girona-based firm Organic Cotton Colors says, forming part of one of these two shows “isn’t easy, because they require very demanding certifications to guarantee the origin and quality of the natural raw material”. His company achieved the label of an innovative product three years ago at the fair, thanks to its organic laundry detergent.

February is the month when both Biofach and Vivaness are held. Among the 192 cosmetics firms from around the world that exhibit at it, there is a Catalan one, Cohitech, which makes natural feminine hygiene products using only natural cotton fibres – an indicator that, as both Vinyes and Mallorquí say, “there is still a long way to go”.

In this regard, another Catalan natural cosmetics firm hit the market in late 2014 – Mare Mae. Founder Albert Pereta created this family business to offer an “honest product that was transparent to consumers”. From San Francisco, where he lives, he explains that as a good entrepreneur he always seeks new projects which have a return on society. In the case of Mare Mae, he says, “We wanted to create a product line that was as timeless as possible. Cosmetics is a sector too closely linked to passing trends, which works with a number of exaggerated margins and where a good part of the product is based on advertising and marketing.” After a year testing different formulations based on a number of Dead Sea minerals, he decided to start to attract customers by exhibiting his products at different city street markets. “I think the best marketing strategy is the one that doesn’t invest in advertising. Word to mouth and direct contact with people are the most important things in getting a good brand to grow”.

Mare Mae, Organic Cotton Colors and Homo Naturals all respect one essential premise of organic cosmetics: local production. For Homo Naturals it is also very important to underline the Barcelona brand which accompanies the firm, because, as Vinyes says, “The city is a world benchmark in lifestyle, the cult of the body and sport”. Given that his company only makes products for men, he believes the presence of the Barcelona name alongside the brand name is even more justified. “Overseas, the Barcelona man is seen as someone who takes a great deal of care about his personal grooming”. This appreciation is even more important in China, where Vinyes’s firm also exports and where, according to the founder, “People appreciate products made in Barcelona”.

The Grand View Research figures suggest that the Asia Pacific area will be no exception with regards the growth in demand for organic cosmetics products. The sector there is expected to return profits of €3.3 billion by 2020.

Altogether, the Grand View Research figures, used by sector behemoths such as the multinationals Bare Escentuals, The Body Shop, Aveda and Kiehl’s, among others, indicate that natural cosmetics sales around the world will grow by around 350% by 2020 and bring in €14 billion in revenue.

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