Natural beauty has not yet learned to "run", and sustainable beauty has begun to "roll"

Text |C2CC New Media

A few days ago, Chanel led the establishment of Traceability Alliance for Sustainable Cosmetics (TRASCE). According to the official introduction, TRASCE Alliance was established to deal with destructive events in the cosmetics supply chain, including health crisis, climate crisis-related events and geopolitical challenges.

The alliance consists of 15 beauty companies including Chanel, Clarins, Dior, Estee Lauder, L ‘Oreal, Shiseido, L ‘Occitane and Sisley, and international raw material packaging suppliers.

In recent years, international beauty giants have continuously increased the number of sustainable beauty cosmetics and formed industry alliances with the goal of environmental protection and sustainability. In February 2022, 36 international beauty care groups, including L ‘Oreal, Henkel, Unilever, LVMH and Natura &Co, announced the establishment of the Eco-Beauty Score Consortium, aiming at establishing a brand-independent and transparent cosmetic environmental impact assessment and scoring system for the whole industry.

On the road of promoting the sustainable development of beauty, international brands are indeed at the forefront, and may be more than one position ahead of domestic brands. For example, L ‘Oré al promises that by 2030, 95% of the ingredients in the brand formula will be bio-based and 100% of the plastic packaging will be recyclable; Unilever’s goal is to achieve zero emissions of all products from production to sales by 2039; By 2030, P&G will achieve 100% FSC certification and so on.

International brands have the first-Mover advantage in the field of sustainable beauty, and occupy the right to speak in the international market. However, the formation of the alliance, to a certain extent, is also shaping the brand authority. It is not excluded that they hope to re-divide the global market position and create barriers to industrial competitiveness through the form of alliance, which may increase the difficulty of domestic products going to sea and further raise the threshold for China brands to enter the European and American markets.

01 "abandoned" natural organic

Ten years ago, "organic", "natural" or "plant" skin care products were all the rage in China market. With the popularization of basic knowledge of ingredients, formulas and efficacy of skin care products in the industry, consumers found that "natural and organic" did not mean safer and more effective, and skin care products with scientific basis and clinical efficacy were more popular with consumers.

Therefore, many imported brands focusing on the concept of "natural and organic" have lost their reputation in the China market. Only last year, British organic skin care brand Aurelia, Japanese natural organic make-up brand Naturaglace, New Zealand natural skin care brand Snowberry and other natural organic brands closed Tmall flagship stores in China.

The concept of "natural and organic" is no longer the golden key for foreign minority brands to open the door to China market. More importantly, from the perspective of national policy supervision, China has never really opened the door for "natural and organic" beauty cosmetics.

On July 1, 2012, China cancelled the organic certification of cosmetics, and in 2015, the words "organic", "pure natural" and "0-added" were included in the prohibition language of cosmetics labeling in the Measures for the Administration of Cosmetics Labeling. As soon as the policy comes out, it basically means locking up the growth space of natural and organic concepts in the beauty market in China.

Not only that, international beauty giants seem to be deliberately giving up the concept of natural organic. In November 2023, L ‘Oré al sold Sanoflore, a natural skin care product, to private equity firm Ekkio Capital in a low-key way. Earlier, L ‘Oré al Group sold The Body Shop to Nature&Co Group.

It can be said that natural organic beauty cosmetics died early before they rose in the global market, but it did not affect the concept of planting grass in consumers’ minds. More importantly, green, healthy and sustainable development is the development trend that all major industries in the world are following.

According to the data of White Paper on Pure Beauty Industry, from 2020 to 2027, the global pure beauty market is expected to grow from 5.4 billion US dollars to 11.6 billion US dollars, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.07%. In China, 86% of China users said they would consider using Clean Beauty products, and the number of pure beauty users in Amoy increased by more than 31% year-on-year.

According to Bain’s Insight into Sustainable Consumption Trends in the Asia-Pacific Region, 90% of the respondents are willing to pay a premium for the sustainability of products, and as many as 51% of the respondents regard environmental protection as one of the three most important shopping standards.

Compared with natural organic and pure beauty, sustainable beauty can be regarded as a higher-level version. At present, domestic and foreign brands are constantly "washing green", and the mass society will also pay attention to how brands practice the principles of "openness, transparency" and "traceability", such as sustainability in raw materials and research and development; Environmental protection in production, terminal, packaging, logistics and so on. "Natural and organic" is being reborn with the concept of "sustainable beauty".

02 domestic beauty cosmetics catch up with the sustainable wind

At present, there is no clear definition of sustainable beauty at home and abroad, but it is generally believed that sustainable beauty includes two dimensions: content sustainability and packaging sustainability.

In terms of contents, sustainable beauty cosmetics pursue minimalist ingredients, safety, transparency, naturalness, organic, traceability and environmental friendliness. In the outer packaging, sustainable beauty should adopt recyclable materials, recycled raw materials and reusable packaging design. In addition, in the production, research and development, circulation and other links, brands should also implement more energy-saving and emission-reduction measures as much as possible.

For international beauty brands, sustainable beauty has become a must for brand development.

In the second half of last year, sustainable beauty became the darling of the international capital market. Yepoda, a natural skin care brand with sustainable concept in Korea, completed the A round of financing; Líha Beauty, a British aromatherapy natural and sustainable skin care brand, received an investment of 1 million pounds; Iris&Romeo, a "pure" beauty brand, has been invested by True Beauty Ventures and so on.

Back in the domestic market, compared with the prohibition of natural and organic concepts in the field of beauty, the state is encouraging the development of sustainable beauty.

Previously, the "Implementation Plan for Promoting Green Consumption" jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and other seven departments clearly stated that by 2025, the concept of green consumption in China will be deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, and the green transformation of consumption in key areas will achieve remarkable results, and the green consumption mode will be widely implemented, and the consumption system of green and low-carbon circular development will take shape; By 2030, green consumption mode will become the conscious choice of the public, green low-carbon products will become the mainstream of the market, and the green low-carbon development model of consumption in key areas will basically take shape.

Under the guidance of sustainable development and green consumption, many domestic head beauty enterprises are vigorously promoting ESG construction.

Bettini, Nature Hall, shanghai jahwa, Polaiya and other brands are already releasing ESG reports, planning outlines and proposals. In the report, Polaiya Group disclosed that in 2022, the per capita office power consumption will be reduced by 4.36% year-on-year, and the per capita office water consumption will be reduced by 13.27%. Carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced in raw material procurement, product production, product packaging and logistics transportation, and the accumulated carbon emissions will be reduced by 2,261.23 tons. Betani guides the development of packaging through three major directions: new structure and new material, plastic reduction and non-plastic, and introduces the concept of green packaging from the design end.

Alexandra Palt, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer and CEO of L ‘Oré al, once said that through the topic of environmental protection, brand value can be better enhanced, thus guiding consumers’ consumption choices. The brand’s sustainable development and sense of social responsibility can affect the purchase behavior of individual consumers, and consumers’ recognition of sustainable beauty can also promote the brand’s development in this field.

Sustainable beauty should not only be a marketing concept, but more brands need to practice sustainable development with practical actions. China’s beauty industry needs to participate more in the international sustainable beauty alliance, and establish its own alliance system and standard system, so that sustainable beauty will become the outlet to promote the development of the industry in the "post-ingredient era".