Released yesterday (28 February), Soil Association Certification’s Organic Beauty & Wellbeing Market Report 2023 reveals the market is now worth a record £147.63m after +6.8% growth in sales in 2022, with shoppers spending £12m on certified organic and natural beauty and wellbeing products every month.
Sales of certified products have doubled since 2017. The market has enjoyed 12 years of growth, with nine of those being double-digit growth, since 2011 when the market was worth just £31.1m.
‘Consumer appetite for sustainable and clean beauty solutions shows no sign of slowing down with the market nearly doubling in the last five years. The rapid market growth is an indication of the level of innovation in the sector, as the beauty industry continues to clean up its act, across harmful chemicals, microplastics and single use packaging. Organic beauty and wellbeing offers a certified and trusted solution for consumers to navigate this space, and will only further its position as a source of trends. The experiential and story telling nature of the category has power as a bigger changemaker, in engaging consumers with the wider benefits of organic, as a standard for sustainable food and farming.’
Soil Association commercial and marketing director
While growth has slowed compared to the +15% leap in sales the market experienced in 2021, the report demonstrates that certified organic and natural beauty and wellbeing products remain an important purchase to consumers.
Some Soil Association brands have reported a drop in sales, which they have overwhelmingly attributed to inflation and the cost-of-living crisis (identified by 67% and 60% of brands reporting negative performance, respectively).
However, the overall growth and exceptional sales experienced by others show the market is resilient and continues to be attractive as consumers prioritise sustainability when making beauty and wellbeing purchases.
The report reveals that sustainability information is now three times more important to beauty and wellbeing shoppers than product reviews or social proof.
Nine out of 10 shoppers believe sustainable and ethical considerations are important when making a beauty or wellbeing purchase.
Consumers are also getting savvier about greenwashing, with 79% stating they have doubts about the trustworthiness of claims that brands make relating to sustainability or social impact.
Third-party certification is shown to be the most effective way of motivating consumers to make a sustainable purchase.
While 41% of consumers say they would be encouraged to make a purchase if a product had recognisable third-party certification, the second-highest identified reason – on-pack information – was given by only 26% of participants.
It has therefore never been a better time for beauty and wellbeing brands to certify as organic, as consumers look to accreditations like Soil Association COSMOS Organic to validate a product’s sustainability and no longer take brand’s claims at face value.
This is a welcome trend in the UK, where legislation around the term ‘organic’ for beauty and wellbeing products is scarce.
It is legal for brands in this sector to label products ‘organic’ even if they contain just 1% organic ingredients.
Soil Association COSMOS Organic certification guarantees that 95% of a product’s physically processed agricultural ingredients are organic, and at least 20% of the total ingredients (including water) are organic (for rinse-off products at least 10% of the total ingredients must be organic).
Soil Association COSMOS regulation also guarantees that sustainability has been considered throughout the product supply chain, as well as additional concerns like labour and animal rights.
A new addition to the 2023 report is a section that looks at the ‘medicalisation’ trend of skincare and personal care.
This sees consumers demanding scientific proof behind product efficacy claims and an increased focus on proven active ingredients.
With one in three UK consumers saying they research skincare ingredients to check their efficacy, product value is being created by formulas that are led by actives like Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid.
What’s more, product efficacy is one thing that consumers will not compromise on when deciding to make a sustainable purchase.
Soil Association Certification is keen to show that these actives can be derived from organic sources and can be included in certified organic skincare formulations.
As consumers look for third-party proof in both scientific and environmental claims, COSMOS Organic certification provides assurance on sustainability, while still allowing for the scientific innovation that skincare consumers want.
The report spotlights Soil Association Organic certified brand Nourish London, founded by biochemist and cosmetic formulator Dr Pauline Hili.
Dr Hili is keen to dispel any myths surrounding organic ingredients being less effective than lab-created synthetics, pointing to her long career of research that has looked at the ‘synergistic effect in performance’ that ‘combinations of… organic ingredients’ can have.
‘When researching organic essential oils and their antimicrobial ability we found wonderful combinations that gave an enhanced protection to products and protected the skin against bacteria that can cause infections’, states Hili. ‘This allowed us to rely less on more conventional preservatives that we were hoping to reduce.’