Conscious consumerism is a “respectful and compassionate approach to consumption [that] embraces mindfulness of other human beings, animals and the environment.”1
The trend towards more conscious consumption has been on the rise recently, and all signs point to a continued growth in consumer awareness. Consumers are becoming more discerning; from cosmetics to skincare to household cleaning products and even clothing, they want more from the products and brands they support.
Where are products coming from? How are they being made, and by whom? Are workers being treated ethically? Are ingredients sourced in sustainable ways? Is animal welfare being considered? Customers are curious, and now that this proverbial horse is out of the barn, it’s awakened a new perspective on conscious consumption.
This growing awareness about the impact of our product purchases on the environment is not likely to go away anytime soon, and companies are responding to it by either offering more sustainable, natural, organic, and vegan products to the market… or, at the very least, taking advantage of this trend to market products to an eager and hungry audience.
According to Euromonitor International2, 61% of consumers are worried about climate change and 54% believe their purchasing decisions could make a positive impact on the world.
Likewise, Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD)3 suggests that vegan beauty and personal care launches more than doubled in the past five years, growing by 175% from July 2013 to June 2018.
Beauty, skincare, and personal wellness fans are becoming more conscious. Now that they know that better products are or should be available, they won’t settle for anything less.
And all of this information comes down to you. If you’re a natural beauty fan, a formulator, a small business owner, you’ll want to know what all of this means for you. We’re offering a series of articles to help provide some key insight to our students, as well as natural beauty fans even if they’re not students with us yet!
Keep reading to know more.
What Is A Conscious Consumer?
Being a conscious consumer is about being aware of what choices you have. What ingredients you want in your products, and which ones you choose to avoid—and why. It’s about informing yourself, and empowering yourself with knowledge. Demanding transparency and higher-quality products that do the most amount of good and the least amount of harm, both to you as well as animals and to the planet.
All of these choices are an expression of your individual values.
Maybe you’re concerned about the use of plastics in consumer products. From packaging to microbeads used in exfoliants, you’re troubled by the effects this material has on the environment. You want to know what products you can buy that help support your ethos, and which ones to avoid.
Or perhaps you’re concerned about the conditions various ingredients are sourced under. The real human and environmental cost of things like Palm Oil or Mica. Or perhaps your vegan lifestyle drives you to avoid animal-derived products. You have a right to have clear answers from the products you purchase, and you also deserve to find alternatives that work just as well, if not better, than the products that do not match your values.
A conscious consumer is someone who knows their choices, empowers themselves to seek answers, and lets their wallet speak for their ethos. You may be a conscious consumer already! In fact, if you care deeply about natural formulation, you probably are already doing these things.
If you’re a skincare formulator, however, how do you tap into this trend? How do you ensure that your ideal customers—those conscious, aware, discerning natural beauty lovers just like you—can find your products? How do you formulate with this knowledge in mind?
Formulating For The Conscious Consumer
There are as many different types of conscious consumers as there are people, because everyone’s individual goals and needs will be different. Throughout this article series, we’ll talk about many of them in depth. But generally speaking, conscious consumers might prioritize products and ingredients which are:
- Fair trade
- Minimalist or multipurpose
- Generally good for the body and wellbeing
When we teach students how to formulate in our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation we always start by helping them identify their values (or the values of their target customers) as this informs every aspect of product design and creation. Small business and artisan skincare formulators can easily cater for conscious consumers by making decisions about their values early on and applying them to every aspect of their brand.
Many brands use certifications to help consumers identify immediately whether the product is the right fit for them, for example by using certifications like COSMOS (for organic or natural products), Vegan, or Fairtrade. Other brands provide clear explanations on their websites of exactly which ingredients they do and don’t use in their products.
Some beauty brands go a step further and not only create products that fit a certain value system but also use their voice to campaign on certain issues (and help their customers to do the same). For example, LUSH campaigns on a range of issues including human rights, animal protection and environmental preservation4. The Body Shop, changed up their Oxford Street branch5 to include an “activists corner” where customers can take a stand on green issues. They have also reflected their sustainable ethos both with their products as well as with the design of their store, choosing recycled materials for the counters and displays.
You might not have a global brand that’s working at that level yet, and that’s okay! There are many actions you can take and decisions you can make as a small brand that will speak to the conscious consumer.
(And we’ll be sharing some of those ways in our upcoming article series!)
Addressing Common Misconceptions
As you begin learning how to formulate for a conscious consumer base, it’s important to get the facts. In this upcoming article series, we talk about:
- Whether ’natural’ and ‘sustainable’ mean the same thing. (Answer: Not necessarily! They are two different things though they can go hand in hand.)
- Whether ‘natural’ and ‘vegan’ mean the same thing. (Answer: Not necessarily! Vegan products can be synthetic.)
- Whether ‘vegan’ and ‘sustainable’ are the same thing. (Answer: You guessed it, not necessarily!)
- What’s going on with the ‘Clean Beauty’ trend, and what does that have to do with ‘natural’ or ‘sustainable’ beauty? (Subscribe to find out!)
We’ll be clearing up some of the common misconceptions and exploring all the topics in more detail over the coming weeks.
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- Euromonitor International, Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2019.
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