2020 – The Year of Sustainable Health & Beauty


The desire for sustainable products is an ever-expanding global trend, which has slowly permeated all areas of commerce over the past few years. This trend has traversed disciplines and marketplaces, from the food and drinks industry to fashion. And health and beauty is no exception. There are four key consumer macro trends that seem to stand out within the industry.

The first: ‘Clean beauty’. This movement gathered momentum in 2019 and has really gained traction in 2020, with lots of huge brands partnering with sustainable beauty brands. A great example is Ultra Beauty who recently announced a partnership with clean retailer Credo and will now feature brands such as Innersense Organic Beauty and One Love Organics.

Whilst the phrase ‘clean beauty’ has remained – like sustainable itself, rather a vague and all-encompassing term, with misinformation and misunderstanding leading to many misleading ‘free- from’ claims, the climate is changing, and ingredient transparency is emerging as a top 2020 consumer macro trend within the industry. As the chief merchandising officer at Ultra states: “As we continue our evolution in the clean beauty space, we have so much respect for Credo and what they’ve done when it comes to education and transparency in ingredients.”

As Martin, The Shopper Agency’s Founder and Managing Director has hypothesised: “the consumers of 2020 will expect to see a distinction between synthesised and natural products, with an end to ‘greenwashing’ and fictional ‘better-for-you’ claims”. Shoppers also expect clear transparency on the ethicacy of ingredients.

The organic and natural cosmetics market is a $22 Billion global market and has risen exponentially since 2018, which means there is a high saturation of these products. Brands who therefore reveal themselves to be making false claims or fail to provide clear and adequate testing on the products labelled as ‘better-for-you’, will lose customers and likely not see them return. The consumer of today is nomadic and has no problem turning their back on a bad brand.

Whilst ingredient sustainability and transparency are priorities for many consumers, it can be difficult to look beyond the label. Literally. In the UK last year 46% of people say they feel guilty about the amount of plastic they use, while 82% are actively trying to reduce the amount they throw away, according to YouGov. It’s no wonder then that beauty influencers are increasingly vocal about wasteful product mailers, calling out brands that send them irrelevant or ornately packaged products. From 2018 to 2019, there was a 100% increase in hashtag mentions, such as “#wastefulpackaging” and keyword phrases like “too much packaging”, while beauty- specific posts containing phrases such as “eco-friendliness” and “sustainability” increased by 25%.

Consumers want brands to do more to help them do this and some retailers are listening. In early 2019, cosmetics retailer Lush opened its Naked store in Manchester, exclusively selling plastic-free products and packaging alternatives such as solid shampoo and conditioner bars, deodorant bars, and bath soaks and toothpaste without wrappings or bottles. Bigger companies like Unilever are also trying to do the right thing, pledging to cut down its plastic usage and halve its use of “virgin plastic” by 2025. Earlier this year, L’Oréal publicly committed to using 100% eco-friendly packaging (meaning compostable or reusable) by 2025.

From packaging we move onto the newer global conscious shopping trend: ‘blue beauty’. Otherwise referred to as ‘waterless beauty’, this concept refers to products that aim to protect the oceans and water supplies, such as One Ocean Beauty. According to WWD this trend is the “next generation [of] clean beauty’’Some big brands have been trying to make changes in this regard. L’Oréal achieving a 60% reduction in water consumption per finished product last year and Unilever halving the water associated with the consumer use of its products. More unique though, is Procter & Gamble’s new line that launched in the US this January, called Waterless. This product is a solid shampoo, but it is not just any solid shampoo. The originality of the product comes not from the Lush- ‘esque’ solid form, but from the fact that is does not require water to activate it – a huge step forward for a sustainable future.

2020 looks set to see huge developments in the sustainable retail landscape. With shoppers more aware of their own, and more importantly of brands impact on the environment, creating or highlighting innovative solutions to sustainable products will not only be profitable, but essential in maintaining brand loyalty and attracting new customers.

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