With the rise in social media trends and self aware consumers, the trend toward all-natural products is stretching far beyond the grocery store shelves. Today, the consumers are realising that everything they breathe, intake or apply can and does affect their health, which may cause them to re-assess their personal care products. Organic personal care and cosmetics products, made from plant extracts and natural ingredients contain a low amount of synthetic ingredients. That is why, these products are perceived to be safer and more beneficial than regular personal care and cosmetic products.
Rising consumer awareness as well as changing lifestyles, increasing disposable income and health and environmental concerns are expected to fuel sales of natural and organic cosmetics in Nepal. Due to increase in popularity of herbal , high-end products are incorporating herbs and capitalising the herbal craze among the consumers. Use of personal care products with herbal and natural ingredients is not new in Nepal as the people here are accustomed
to various practices mentioned in Ayurveda and other ancient scripts.
Increasing demand for natural, herbal and Ayurvedic beauty and personal care products over the years has led to heightened competition in this sector. Players such as Patanjali Ayurved, Unilever, Dabur Nepal, Freshia, Enricher, Dekar and New Look have launched a number of new products targeting the masses. “Some of the factors driving the herbal beauty products market include increasing number of conscious consumers, increasing inclination of consumer consciousness towards enhanced appearance and looks across the globe," says Gikmi Sherpa, Managing Director of Wild Earth, a company that produces personal care and spa products. "Key to this latest surge in popularity has been the growth in the wellness sector with consumers taking a more holistic approach to their health combining food, exercise, fashion and beauty."
Though products containing synthetic ingredients still dominate the personal care market, consumers in mature market Kathmandu and Pokhara, for example, are increasingly purchasing beauty products containing natural ingredients. “Consumers hear ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ in all aspects, whether it’s the deodorant they use or the food they eat," mentions Saloni Rajbhandari of Laali Nepal, a company that specialises in manufacturing handmade organic skincare products . "It makes sense that these concerns would be part of their consciousness when they look at beauty."
Much like health food, natural beauty products aren’t new but recently, they have become hugely fashionable, shedding their hippie image. As the trend turns mainstream, debate rages over what constitutes ‘natural’. After all, being inspired by natural plant extracts is not enough to claim organic status. What is important to people is how ‘natural’ is defined; with majority of consumers of Wild Earth considering ‘free from chemicals’ as the main indicator for a true natural product.
"As I started consuming more organic foods, I became more interested in what I was putting on and in, my body, too," says Anaya Gautam, a regular consumer of Natural and organic products from Patanjali Ayurved." Not only did I find the various natural alternatives for synthetic products but also discovered how synthetic product harms our skin and body to a great extent," she adds. Gautam isn’t alone in her pursuit though, with consumers becoming more and more conscious of what they put both in and on their bodies. Going natural is a growing trend, with more consumers buying natural beauty products.
The naturally positioned trend has also been picked up by mainstream global skin care brands. Top foreign skincare brands such as Avon, Fair & Lovely and Oriflame, among others have developed products such as Avon Naturals Ayurvedic Whitening 3-in-1 cleanser, Fair & Lovely Ayurvedic Care Face Cream and Oriflame Pure Nature Tropical Fruits Facial Kit. This trend shows how leading global players are also participating in the race.
The huge groundswell in the health and wellness market has no doubt helped raise awareness of organic beauty, with bloggers and social media starlets leading the charge in this greater visibility, primarily in food but moving rapidly into beauty. Bringing organic to the mainstream has moved the industry from the niche into a highly sophisticated, marketing-driven machine. “Natural trends that once would have remained confined to the specialty food sector are now rapidly scaling up to the mass market, and are having an immediate impact on beauty, apparel and even architecture,” says Sweta Upadhayaya, Managing Director of Lavaanya Luxury Ayurveda.
“What began as a philosophy in food is now infiltrating virtually every lifestyle category. Natural products are no longer seen as niche alternatives, but are aspirational. We’re seeing a renaissance of new products that meet this demand, and consumers are willing to pay accordingly," says Bikash Bidari, Senior Marketing Executive of Patanjali Ayurved Kendra Nepal.
As the markets for the organic and herbal products are rising, so have the challenges. "Many brands are coming up with the tag of 'herbal' without actually being one," mentions Sherpa, adding, "This is a major challenge for us as well as for the consumers. The consumers are being cheated as the products are not authentically organic and we are compelled to compete in this unhealthy competition."
On the basis of product type, the herbal beauty products market is segmented into hair care, skin care, make-up, fragrance, oral care and products for baby care. On the basis of distribution channel, herbal beauty products market is segmented into supermarkets, department stores, drugstores, beauty salons, specialty stores, direct selling and internet retailing. Exclusive herbal beauty products are available at departmental stores, however, the emergence of various distribution channels including online retailing and tele-home shopping is expected to fuel the growth of herbal beauty products market in the next five to six years.
Organic market is riding high and enjoying its rising visibility, but the market has yet to flourish allover Nepal. "As more standard brands eye the growth that natural beauty represents, we can expect to see much more from this sector," says Bidari."The challenge will be to keep the veracity of the herbal intact while still being able to scale up," he adds.