Asian Natural Cosmetics Market: Mislabelling, False Claims and Confusion

Natural cosmetic sales are increasing at a fast rate in Asia, however the market is blighted by false marketing claims, mislabelling of products and consumer confusion. Organic Monitor ( research finds high consumer demand for ‘chemically clean’ cosmetics is leading many Asian companies to jump on the natural and organic bandwagon. Many new products are making claims such as ‘100% natural’, ‘no synthetic chemicals’ and ‘includes organic ingredients’.

Unlike in Europe and North America, there are no private standards for natural and organic cosmetics in Asia. Companies looking at certification have to adopt Western standards, which can incur hefty inspection costs.

The absence of private standards encourages many cosmetic brands to market their products on their ingredients. Many are making natural claims based on their natural ingredients. Some products are promoted as organic, even though they contain just trace organic ingredients. Others are placing symbols and logos of their certified ingredients on product packaging, giving an illusion that the finished product is certified. Some Asian companies are going further by illegitimately placing symbols and logos of natural and organic cosmetic standards on product packaging.

Asian consumers are thus considered some of the most confused when it comes to natural and organic cosmetics. Although they are seeking products that are natural / organic and do not contain parabens, phthalates and related synthetic ingredients, they are invariably getting mislabelled conventional products.

From research undertaken for its upcoming workshops titled ‘Business Openings in the Global Market for Natural & Organic Cosmetics’, Organic Monitor found some positive developments. A growing number of Asian retailers are safeguarding consumer interests by becoming ‘gate-keepers’ for pure natural and organic brands. Many specialist retailers are demanding natural and organic brands substantiate their marketing claims by certification. Just Life, the leading organic food retailer in Malaysia, has taken a decision to only consider new brands that have certified products. Other retailers are scrutinizing the ingredient list of cosmetic products to verify their ‘chemical-free’ status.

Some brands, realising the implications of false marketing and misinformation to consumers, are focusing on green formulations. Amore Pacific and Himalaya Herbals are two large cosmetic firms developing certified lines of natural and organic cosmetics. They see consumer trust and loyalty as key success factors in the natural cosmetics market.

Certification is getting legitimate natural and organic cosmetics into retailers, however overcoming consumer confusion remains a major challenge. Few Asian consumers are able to distinguish between pure natural cosmetics and falsely labelled ones. Consumer education is considered essential. Organic Monitor believes it could well be the marketing muscle of large cosmetic brands that unlocks the potential of the highly
prospective Asian market.

Workshops at Sustainable Cosmetics Summit
Organic Monitor will be conducting workshops on the Business Openings in the Global Market for Natural & Organic Cosmetics at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit: Asia-Pacific edition: Nov 7-8th Hong Kong and European edition: Nov 28-30th Paris.

Visit to find out more.


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