The first products certified as “truly natural” by the Natural Products Association are just now hitting stores. Among the approved health and beauty items are lip balms from Aubrey Organics, balms and glosses from Burt's Bees, and body cremes from J.R. Watkins Apothecary.
The certification program and its logo were introduced earlier this year by the NPA and charter companies amid intense competition for consumer dollars.
“We're talking about a category that's been very penetrated, that has little brand loyalty, and in terms of innovation and opportunities they're kind of running thin,” said Kat Fay, senior research analyst with Mintel. A recent study by the Chicago-based research firm showed that sales of natural and organic personal care products reached $464 million last year, a 35% increase over 2005. Supermarkets account for close to three-quarters of the market.
Promoting products that don't use synthetic ingredients is one way to get the attention of consumers.
In the meantime, the industry has to cover its own bruises. At about the same time the NPA launched its natural initiative, a collection of 30 personal care companies announced the Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards, or OASIS program, which certifies products at 70% and 85% organic content.