What constitutes a 'natural' product? Are there regulations/guidelines around the use of the term 'natural' on beauty products?
No country has regulations around the use of the word 'natural' for beauty products and there is no legal definition of the term 'natural'.
Although some manufacturers have had their products independently audited and certified as natural, unfortunately the complex processes and high costs involved are prohibitive to most. At present there are three certified natural beauty product brands in New Zealand: Comvita (NPA), Living Nature (BDIH) and Trilogy (Natrue).
In terms of therapeutic skincare products, this situation may change if the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill becomes law. At present it is awaiting its third reading in Parliament and NPNZ hopes the bill will become law this year. 'Natural' is defined in the bill as including products that provide a health benefit to a person. This can mean therapeutic skincare products as well as product taken orally or applied.
If the bill passes, the new law will apply to skincare products which are natural and have therapeutic use. However, it will not apply to regular facial and body products, which are the bulk of the skincare market - natural or otherwise.
What kind of growth is the natural beauty products category experiencing?
The natural products sector as a whole experiencing very healthy growth and anecdotally we know that the natural skincare sector is also growing year-on-year. The New Zealand market is showing enormous interest in natural - and organic - products and we have noticed a significant number of natural skincare brands being launched every year.
What are some of the trends driving this growth?
The major trend is LOHAS, which stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability - a market that is valued at $290 billion a year in the US alone. The LOHAS trend encompasses health, justice, social development, personal justice and sustainability. It's rapidly growing and LOHAS consumers place high priority on skincare that is natural and from sources that are sustainable in every way.
What advantages do we have here in New Zealand in the production of natural products, particularly in the beauty sector?
Although New Zealand produces some unique natural ingredients, more importantly many people are genuinely committed to manufacturing high quality products that work naturally, are based entirely on naturally produced ingredients and are from sustainable sources. New Zealand has a tradition of innovation and this shows through in the number of new brands coming to market each year.
New Zealand's 'clean, green' image is also a huge advantage, particularly in export markets.
Is there anything our small businesses could be doing better to harness those advantages?
As is the case with any business, natural product manufacturers should have sound business and marketing strategies and plans that are reviewed regularly.
Market research pre-product development is highly recommended so that consumers' needs are thoroughly understood and possible gaps in the market are recognised. The right sort of marketing is absolutely vital and companies need to understand which market sector they are selling or 'talking' to and how best to go about talking with them.
Most SMEs have a tiny marketing budget so it's important they get the most from it by finding their niche and working out how best to communicate with existing and potential markets and customers so as to ensure their business grows.
Coming up in Small Business: Productivity is an issue we hear lots about - how to get more out of your business relative to what you put in. If you've got a good story to share about how you've boosted productivity in your small business, please get in touch.