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Natural Personal Care Markets Vibrant, Naturally Evolving

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Demand for natural personal care products remains strong within the well-established markets of Western Europe and North America, maintaining high growth rates. The most recent findings, from worldwide consulting and research firm Kline & Company, show that while the segment's 2011 growth waned slightly compared to the five-year compound annual growth rate of 13.9%, it still consistently outperformed the overall beauty market.

Both of these markets are distinctly different as market leaders vary from region to region; moreover, within Europe, the dynamics of the naturals market varies significantly between countries. In Western Europe, the natural segment is becoming more mainstream, but it's the largely untapped markets of Central and Eastern Europe where opportunities show great promise. Additionally, Western European and North American shares of the total market have been decreasing over the past five years at the expense of Brazil and China. The latter are expected to draw the focus of astute companies keen to establish critical footholds in these budding markets. Savvy marketers are also opening up and exploring new channels of distribution, allowing access to new consumers and ultimately broadening demand.

Large, predominantly German drug stores, such as DM, Schlecker, and Rossmann, represent the fastest growing pan-European channel. In the United States, traditional natural health food stores still lead the way; however, mass outlets, such as Walmart—which as an indicator of the retailer's faith in the naturals' market, recently introduced its own private-label products—are quickly increasing in significance.

Indeed, more mass market brands are recognizing the vitality and viability of the naturals segment with its inherent market cachet and consumers' increasing readiness to pay a premium for genuinely natural products. The benefits are manifold; by increasing the channels of distribution and allowing consumers easier access to natural products, both ultimately contribute to the segment's growth.

Kline's Consumer Industry Manager Nancy Mills attributes the resilience of the natural personal care sector to ever growing consumer awareness of health, environmental, and sustainability concerns. "These drivers are near universal, but their influence varies significantly between markets," observes Mills. "In Western Europe, consumers have a higher awareness and interest concerning product ingredients, business ethics, and sustainability practices, and many are astutely avoiding products which are natural only in positioning. In Eastern Europe, where the movement is starting to blossom, consumers aren't yet as discerning."

"Natural personal care is not a fad, but a genuine movement that's manifesting itself in ever diverse product applications," continues Mills. "The consumer is better educated, and this can serve the marketer well, particularly as credible certification standards are being implemented and recognized."

The global market for natural personal care products is expected to maintain strong growth with a compound annual growth rate of almost 10% through 2016. The growth of truly natural products will likely outpace that of natural-inspired brands across most regions; however, natural-inspired brands will continue to dominate the global natural personal care market.