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Why the Hype Around Natural Ingredients and Can My Business Profit by Making the Switch?

"Natural," "organic," and "sustainably sourced" are buzzwords for food, cosmetics, and skin care marketing today. Many consumers are committed to healthier lifestyles, meaning that there is an emphasis on understanding where their products come from and what is in them. For some people, this is related to what they're putting in their bodies; for others, it's important to know if the products are being sourced ethically; still others care about the impact of the environmental footprint required to produce their favorite brands. The bottom line for your business is that you need to know who is buying your products and what they care about. This information will help you as a business owner make decisions about where to focus your energy when making the switch from certain synthetic materials and ingredients to natural options. Here are a few motivating factors for consumers that will help to guide your decisions.


Consumer Awareness

Cosmetics and skin care products have seen the greatest impact of the public's interest in moving toward natural products. With the rise in popularity of clean eating diets and organic ingredients, people are increasingly interested in what goes into their bodies via the products that they use on a daily basis. Therefore, consumers ask the manufacturers of their favorite products about the ingredients that are used, including where they come from, why those ingredients are in the product, and how they impact their bodies. Where a "free-from" label may have once impacted buying decisions, today's consumers are more interested in reading product labels to see what IS in the product rather than what isn't. For the business owner, this means looking at your labels with a critical eye. Moisturizers have been highly impacted by the interest in natural, plant based products. For many consumers, a functional product isn't good enough. A functional product that is made with a minimal number of pronounceable ingredients that allows the consumer to know exactly what is going onto their body will sell much better.


High Quality

The move to more natural products does not mean that consumers are interested in lowering the product's quality. In fact, there is a belief that by changing from certain synthetic products to more natural ones, the quality of the product increases. Plant based skin care, for example, sells well because many people believe that natural compounds such as essential oils and other plant extracts are of higher quality than their synthetically produced counterparts. Therefore, it is likely that consumers will continue buying a product that they already like more faithfully when that product switches to natural ingredients. A savvy business owner will look at the production cost of the product using synthetic ingredients and compare it to the cost of changing at least some, if not all, of their ingredients to natural sources. Then, they will project how the product will continue to sell and how it might attract new customers by making those changes.


Clean and Green

Other consumers care most about the environmental impact of a product. Even when — and possibly, especially when — a product is marketed as containing natural or organic ingredients, consumers want to know whether that ingredient is being sourced responsibly. Essential oil companies have seen a major surge in popularity in recent years, but what sets one company apart from another is their commitment to sourcing their products sustainably. Many people who love eucalyptus or tea tree oil want to ensure that their favorites will be available for years to come, meaning that they care about the environmental impact of their purchases. Packaging, shipping, and distribution fall into the same category. Are recyclable materials used for packaging and shipping wherever possible? What lengths do you as the company owner go to to ensure that the ingredients are being harvested in a way that supports the local ecosystem?


Company Responsibility

Small companies that produce artisan products such as moisturizer, make-up, and niche food items will also often commit to responsible business practices, such as only working with fair-trade distributors or partnering with small farms in impoverished nations. Consumers love to buy products from companies that they believe to be ethically sound. Large companies can make similar commitments, though this can be more challenging as it often means more substantial changes to their business practices or sourcing options. B Lab is a company that provides a stamp of approval to companies who demonstrate a commitment to responsible business practices with their B Corporation logo. Businesses with a B Corp label are actively working to build a more sustainable and inclusive economy. As a business owner, working with this company to earn their label will increase your clout with many consumers.


Natural ingredients are important to the public, whether because they consume them, they believe them to be of higher quality, or they believe that natural ingredients are better for the planet and the economy. Most companies can make some sort of change toward a more natural and sustainable way of doing business that will not only increase their bottom line, but improve their overall impact on society.

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