Natural Cosmetics Conference 2016 Review: Day One

Reviewing the first day of the Natural Cosmetics Conference 2016, let’s discuss major industry trends and challenges – and consumer influence.

Growth rates, health trends, exciting digital tools and fascinating packaging solutions: day one of the Natural Cosmetics Conference 2016 was packed with the most delicious information.

Oh, and: Moleskines out!
Let’s meet at the next Conference: 26-27 September 2017, Hotel Ellington Berlin.
Find out all about the Conference here.

Natural Cosmetics Conference Day One:
Data, Trends, Chances

To get the party started, conference participants traditionally crunch data presented by the founder of the specialist publishing house naturkosmetikverlag, industry expert and Natural Cosmetics Conference chairwoman Elfriede Dambacher. And the data were very interesting indeed: at the growth rate of 10% p.a., the 2020 global market size forecast for natural cosmetics points at 16 billion USD, with the demand for ethical products constantly growing, as consumers in the established markets (Europe, USA) demand more transparency, question conflict or toxic ingredients and grow less and less tolerant towards animal-based ingredients. More good news? Yes, please: consumer advocacy gains momentum in the USA; online retail is doing really well for natural cosmetics; clean beauty is on the rise.

danielabrunner-elfriededambacher-welcomeWelcoming the audience: Daniela Brunner (Vivaness), Elfriede Dambacher (Conference chairwoman)

The market radar presentation was followed by the data from retail researchers at IHF Cologne: the ubiquity of natural cosmetics online. Benefitting from the general healthy lifestyle trend, natural cosmetics is the second top industry after food and beverages. However, the lack of binding regulations and the lack of accessibility at retail give it a raw deal, drawing even consumers who self-identify as buyers of natural cosmetics to conventional brands. And, the importance of branded online shops notwithstanding, offering natural cosmetics via amazon is the means of choice for online retail success.

Natural Cosmetics Conference Review:
Future of Branding & Shopping, Digitalisation

Now what about future trends? Enter Pascale Brousse, Paris-based consumer trend expert. Introducing the term “smart health revolution”, Madame Brousse explained the rising trend for self-management, a formula made of integrative health, wellness, self-care and beauty, all augmented by tech and media. Health has become a lifestyle statement, manifesting itself in trending phenomena such as “healthtainment”, athleisure and the rise of the Instagram (f)it-girls.

The consumers’ desire for more sophistication (clean cosmetics, superfoods), more control (free from), more entertainment (coaching apps and programmes, sharing on social media), more empowerment (connecting with natural biorhythm, nurturing the skin microbiome) weaves a very intense and yet fascinating net of requirements to be met by brands.

pascalebrosse-elfriededambacherElfriede Dambacher introducing Pascale Brousse

Professor Dr. Jo Groebel, Director of the German Digital Institute, commented on the digitalisation of our society by delivering a very passionate speech that broke free from his actual presentation. He highlighted the need for authentic digital transformation and urged companies to just dare – experimenting, exploring, finding their own unique identity in the new reality and steering clear from (shady) consultants who promise them the sky.
I must say I clapped my hands so much they hurt because that’s exactly what I preach to my clients: beware of buzz words, beware of “experts” – this is just another tool, not another universe.

profdrjogroebelProf. Dr. Jo Groebel

Digitalisation got practical with the speech by barcoo/ Offerista co-founder Benjamin Thym: successful location-based marketing and methods of interactive consulting. With 70% of purchase decisions made at the POS, brands and companies need modern-day tools to carefully guide their clients (rather than chasing them away with spammy over-messaging). New digital tools enable the anonymous (data ethics!) quantification of relevant bits of data creating a never-before seen level of personalisation of branded content such as product or special offer information.

benjaminthymofferista-hendrikegrubertponyhutchen-elisabethhuberschweizerdrogistenverbandHendrke Grubert explains her strategy soniawhite-lovelula-realbeautymanifestoSonia White talked about the Real Beauty Manifesto

Finally, an expert panel discussed shopping scenarios of the future. The day’s speakers were joined by “green” online entrepreneurs Hendrike Grubert (PonyHütchen) and Sonia White (Amarya Ltd.) and several renowned retail experts and consultants. Sharing best practices and their insider views, the panel has shown that classic retail and online retail have to work smoothly hand in hand, and have room for innovation and – Attention! Attention! – authenticity.
Personally, I had to think of a Marie Forleo video I saw a while ago in which she purred “If you’re tawkin’ to everybody, you’re tawkin’ to nobody.” Pretty much nails it.

Natural Cosmetics Conference Review:
Holistic, Sustainable Packaging – Revamped

If you think sad recycled cardboard was the topic of the next speech, you couldn’t be farther away from the truth.

brandpack Hamburg Creative Director Charles Calvert spoke about the four dimensions of modern, sustainable packaging. Blowing the audience away with stunningly clever packaging designs that included a sun screen bottle measuring your sunbath length, Charles Calvert explained the four dimensions of packaging design for natural cosmetics:
Material – sustainable sourcing, optimised transportation, recyclable, tox-free
Design – ecological, beautiful on the shelf, allows to use the product fully with no residues, can be recycled or even upcycled
Artwork – in tune with the consumer’s expectations: pure/ clean, organic shapes etc.
Finishes – use of (more) sustainable alternatives such as metallised paper, cold foil stamping, laser gloss, organic dyes.

cleverpackaging-by-brandpackThe brandpack goodie: (empty) reversible packaging. Had to try it immediately at home!

Day one then ended with a theatrical performance summing up four different future consumer types as they are estimated by 2025: the 2025 trend setters or Gen Z, the flex consumers aka the 2025 middle class or Gen Y, the 2025 establishment or Gen X and the young old or the baby boomers.

Natural Cosmetics Conference Day One:
Bottom Line or 5 Major Challenges

I have put together a following list of five major challenges for genuine organic and natural cosmetics.

The retail experience challenge:

strong, conceptual, experience-oriented retail presence of near-natural competitors vs. weak retail presence of genuine organic brands.

The generational challenge:

generational change in the small and medium size enterprises that make for the majority of natural cosmetics brands leads to mergers and acquisitions, while the different generations of consumers act differently – the younger generation of consumers reveals a flexible, paradox shopping philosophy (they want their SUV and their mountain bike, so to speak).

The big player challenge:

the conventional cosmetics industry’s high interest in natural cosmetics and the consequences. Also to consider: the new ISO norm; TTIP/CETA.

The communications challenge:

natural cosmetics consumers have a higher need for detailed information to make shopping decisions; natural cosmetics brands need to find a strong way to communicate their values and the benefits of their products. The need to keep up with the hip crowd of new health mavens and green influencers will change the brands’ communications for good.

The tech and tech ethics challenge:

I love to hear about the insanely convenient innovation possible, but let’s keep natural cosmetics clean technologically – data ownership is a huge topic, and just like organic brands don’t put toxic into their formulations, they should stay away from toxic data hoarding. Being tech savvy as a company doesn’t mean collecting data blindly or creating accounts with all social media. What does it mean to be tech savvy as a company though? Now that’s another story.

Now Adventurers, I’d appreciate to hear from You.
As always in the comments below, or drop me a line if you’ve got questions!

Read on Sunday: Natural Cosmetics Conference 2016 Review: Day Two


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

6 Responses

  1. Sounds like a fascinating couple of days. I had a meeting with some buzzword bandits last week and it was like playing bingo as I mentally ticked off each term they spouted – scary watching others being bamboozled though. Spot on with the challenges, I suspect data is really not front of mind for many green companies and as you say it really is a biggie that should be. The only other challenge I’d add is the ingredients themselves….i know that’s a whole nother story!

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