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Despite an amazing increase in the number of products that are supposedly organic but which, actually, contain synthetic components, consumers of organic products are increasingly using these products.
This has made brand owners of inorganic products face insurmountable challenges in marketing these products since their products are competing with products whose prices can be comfortably lowered without their owners making losses. This paper uses the theories of consumer behavior to explain the reason behind the popularity of organic products among consumers and proposes the strategies that marketers can employ to reach more consumers.
European cosmetic facts
The distribution of natural and organic cosmetic and their demand in Europe have steered an exponential increase in the volumes of natural and organic cosmetic sales. Cosmetic companies are realizing doubled revenues after every year courtesy of natural and organic cosmetic sales.
This turn can be associated to the consumer preference shift in the cosmetic industry. Previously, organic cosmetics were demanded by people with abnormalities like rashes and irritation of the skin. However, with time, the consumers of cosmetic products realized that organic cosmetics had low levels of substances that may be harmful to the human body and the functionality that is characteristic of natural ingredients in organic cosmetics.
This has been the reason behind the overnight shift toward consumption of organic cosmetics (Folkes, 2004, p. 11). Another reason for the same is the superiority of the quality of organic cosmetic products from certain companies. An example of a brand of superior quality is Aveda.
Despite the high growth of the organic cosmetic market in Europe, individual businesses are not getting the best out of the prevailing growth. This is because individual businesses get a low share of the cumulative sales in the continent. German and France enjoy a comparatively large part of the market. This is due to the relatively good distribution channels in Germany and public awareness of the dangers of consuming synthetic products made possible by the media in France.
The aforementioned characteristic low share of organic cosmetic sales enjoyed by individual retailers in Europe has necessitated a revolution to the approaches used by these retailers to market their products (Bosmans, 2006, p. 37). The following paragraphs analyze the reasons for the popularity of organic cosmetic products in European markets based on the theories of consumer behavior.
Understanding cosmetic-consumer behavior
A proper mastery of the dynamics of consumer behavior is very crucial in the development of strategies for effective marketing. Traditionally, owners of cosmetic brands have always had a good understanding of the habits of consumers. These habits were based on a number of parameters which include income, gender, age and income.
Such knowledge was very instrumental in aiding them to establish efficient and definite strategies for attracting consumers of their products (Desmond, 2003, p. 17). Since the cosmetic market is popularly known for its virtual rigidity even during economic recessions, it is apparent that marketing strategies were central to the success of these brand owners.
After the global recession that began in 2008, the cosmetic industry was slightly impacted by the crisis. It was the introduction of another economic factor that made the economic recession have the impact it had on the cosmetic industry, specifically the organic cosmetic industry.
This factor was the increment of the public awareness of consumers about the dangers of synthetic cosmetics. A survey conducted to study the impact that the recession had on the cosmetic industry showed that, during the recession, a significant number of private brands emerged. The number of such brands was increased by the fact that people were migrating from other industries to the cosmetic industry since it was the least affected by the recession.
This was due to the fact that even in difficult economic times, everyone likes to spend on small things that help in making their lives more interesting. People are usually interested in goods that increase their well being, pleasure, health and the like. This was the reason for the virtual rigidity of the cosmetic industry during recession and the rapid growth of the organic cosmetic industry during and after the recession since organic cosmetic products are normally associated with increased well being and health.
The discussed virtual rigidity of the cosmetic industry together with the resultant increase in the number of individuals developing personal brands also led to more public awareness about the benefits of using organic cosmetic products and why people should avoid using synthetic cosmetic products (Osselaer, and Alba, 2000, p. 11). This is one of the reasons why the organic cosmetic market has been on the rise in the last couple of years.
As stated above, there was an increase in the awareness of the dangers facing the usage of synthetic products in Europe during and after recession. This led to a massive shift of customer preference from the use of synthetic cosmetic to the use of organic cosmetics. After the recession, the impact of the shift was most felt with an exponential rise in the total sales of organic cosmetics in Europe.
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Besides the aforementioned dangers of the synthetic products on the bodies of the consumers, the products also have a significant contribution to environmental degradation. It is indubitable that people are becoming more eco-aware with time. This makes people be very selective on what they spend their money on by considering the effects that the products have on the environment (Percy, 2004, p. 421).
Thus the integration of environmental concerns with health and budgetary considerations has made a number of consumers be dedicated to using organic cosmetics. In a nutshell environmental awareness has been one of the major influences of customer behavior in the cosmetics industry.
Consumers are spending their money on cosmetic products that have minimal or no effects on the environment which is one of the reasons why organic cosmetic products are gaining increased popularity among consumers of cosmetic products. This obviously translates to more organic cosmetics being bought by consumers and, therefore, it explains why organic-cosmetic sales have been increasing in the last couple of years.
Another reason for the increased popularity of organic products is the benefits associable with the use of specific organic products. An example of such organic products is the organic makeup that is common in the contemporary cosmetic markets. The makeup is available in a wide range of tastes differentiated in terms of colors and textures. These enable customers to produce attractive effects after using the products and also soothe their skin with the natural ingredients contained in the makeup.
Organic makeup prices are highly variable and they accommodate virtually all budgets (Braun, 1999, p. 329). This makes the makeup accessible to a large number of consumers and hence its popularity. Organic makeup, like the other organic cosmetics, does not affect the skin negatively. This gives consumers the chance to try new products without worrying about irritations or allergies. This is one of the reasons why organic cosmetic products are realizing more sales.
To explain this, it is very easy to make an informed transition from using synthetic products to using organic cosmetic products. This is because the consumer will just buy the organic cosmetic product that he/she is interested in and try it out without worrying about negative effects on the skin/body of the consumer.
This has, therefore, facilitated numerous transitions from using synthetic cosmetic products to the consumption of organic cosmetic products. In fact, organic makeup is recommended by dermatologists to people with skin allergies and/or generally sensitive skin.
It contains multifunctional ingredients that benefit the skin in different appealing ways like helping in curing allergies, moistening the skin, softening the skin etc (Percy, 2004, p. 425). This is just one of the organic products and the benefits it has which can explain its popularity. Other organic cosmetic products are equally beneficial and this is why the organic cosmetic industry is growing fast in Europe.
The aforementioned limited market share of every individual brand owner in the cosmetic market is a major problem in the cosmetic industry. Brand owners have resulted in using brand differentiation and marketing campaigns to win a better share of the cosmetic market (Blythman, 2005, p. 16).
The competition is very stiff and thus there is need for the formulation of strategies that are capable of achieving good results. Individual brand owners and companies have therefore employed different strategies in a bid to woo more consumers of organic cosmetic products to their stores.
A number of strategies have also been used to change the preferences of the users of synthetic cosmetic products and make them users of organic cosmetic products in order to increase the total market share of organic cosmetic products and consequently increase the market share of individual brand owners and that of individual companies (Belk, Wallendorf and Arnold, 1988, p. 61 – 89).
These efforts have however faced major setbacks caused by a variety of factors in the cosmetic market. Let us have a look at the challenges that these brand owners and companies face in marketing organic cosmetic products.
Challenges faced in marketing organic cosmetics
The cosmetic industry is faced by a myriad of problems that make the marketing of organic cosmetic products a challenging task. Most of these problems are related to the difficulty associable with the identification of genuine organic cosmetic products by consumers (Blackwell, 2006, p. 37).
Since genuine organic cosmetic products have won unequalled consumer preference, brand owners and producers of cosmetic products are misleading the market by using fake descriptions of their products as being organic. They do this in a bid to make consumers of cosmetic products to be attracted to their products so that they can get a reasonable share of the cosmetic market.
It is sad that these tricks used by some producers of cosmetic products have got a good number of consumers of genuine organic cosmetic products fooled (Pincus, 2004, p. 380). This has led to a great difficulty in the marketing of genuine organic cosmetic products since they compete with other “organic” cosmetic products which can easily be offered at low prices. This is one of the reasons why brand owners of cosmetic products are getting an increasingly limited market share of the total cosmetic market.
Due to the above stated fact, consumers of organic cosmetic products are advised to be more selective on the products they buy form cosmetic stores. This will help to make manufacturers of such fake products grow some ethical values and it could lead to a more transparent cosmetic market.
Users and producers of genuine organic cosmetic products are also advocating for the introduction of an effective regulatory body in the cosmetic market to be checking the authenticity of products claimed to be purely organic by their producers (Maclnnis, Moorman, and Jaworsky, 1991, p. 151).
Another challenge that the cosmetic industry is facing is the lack of adequate regulations and lack of harmony in the European organic cosmetic market. The market has stayed for a very long time without sufficient EU regulations. As stated earlier, the result of this is the competition of genuine organic products with some cosmetic products which are considered natural/organic because they have a small proportion of organic ingredients.
This is regardless of the fact that such products are mainly composed of synthetic substances. The stated fact has led to the aforementioned slight decline in the demand of genuine organic cosmetic products which are the most demanded of all cosmetic products due to their health benefits and the increased public awareness of the dangers of synthetic products in Europe (Muehling, and Sprott, 2004, p. 29).
Strategies for marketing organic cosmetics
The fact that the organic cosmetic industry is booming in Europe has made a good number of brand owners of organic cosmetic products seek to reap the benefits of the boom. This has led to a lot of marketing strategies being adopted by these people and companies in order to give their products a competitive edge. The following is a discussion of some suggestions of marketing
Marketers of organic cosmetic products have a variety of choices for the marketing of their products. One of the strategies that these marketers can employ is the emphasis of the quality of organic cosmetic products in their campaigns. The marketers can use the variety of benefits that are associable with the quality of organic cosmetic products like the ability of consumers to try new organic cosmetic products without being worried about the effects they may have on their bodies (Kotler et al., 2005, p. 15).
Marketers can therefore be carrying free samples during their campaigns in order to cultivate interests to prospective consumers of organic cosmetic products. This will definitely yield good results since the first-hand interaction of a prospective consumer of organic cosmetic products with the products will definitely achieve a significant level of trust in the consumer.
This will make more and more consumers join the organic cosmetic products consuming community and even make some of the consumers using other organic cosmetic products to change to using the goods being sold by the marketer (Evans et al., 2006, p. 41).
Another strategy that can be used by marketers of organic to win a better cumulative proportion of the organic cosmetic consumers is by advocating for the formation of better regulating bodies to ensure that every product that is labeled organic is essentially organic. The regulating body should set strict rules on the labeling of products as being organic and it should be able to identify products which are not organic but are said to be organic by their producers.
The regulating body should also be able to impose tough penalties on defaulters of its laws in order to force compliance by producers who are used to deceiving consumers. This way the competition of authentic organic cosmetic products with false organic cosmetic products will be reduced and thus the authentic organic cosmetic products will have a better share of the cosmetic market (Perlman, 2009, p. 27). This will, in turn, increase the share of the market enjoyed by each individual brand owner of authentic organic cosmetic products.
Producers and brand owners of organic cosmetic products should also make sure that they adequately differentiate their products. This is because counterfeit organic cosmetic products are normally designed to be similar to authentic organic cosmetic products in appearance but they are inferior in quality.
Thus an approach aimed at differentiating authentic organic products and stressing the differences in of authentic and counterfeit organic products in marketing campaigns will indubitably work for the best of the organic cosmetic market.
It will enable these consumers to correctly identify genuine organic cosmetic products and therefore the competition posed by synthetic cosmetic products in the organic cosmetic market will be significantly reduced (Belk, 1985, p. 271). This will lead to an increase in the market share enjoyed by individual organic cosmetic companies and individual brand owners of organic cosmetic products.
The producers of genuine organic cosmetic products can also organize a campaign aimed at creating more public awareness on the dangers of synthetic products. Since there are many dangers associated with the consumption of synthetic products, this will lead to more people switching from using synthetic cosmetic products to using organic cosmetic products (Solomon et al., 2004, p. 24). They can also use this opportunity to market their organic cosmetic products which will lead t more customers demanding their products.
This is because, more and more people are becoming selective on the products they use in order to mitigate the effects that their lifestyle may have on their health (Braun-LaTour, et al., 2004, p. 17). Therefore, since, the use of synthetic products poses a threat to the health of consumers, public education on the dangers of using these products will automatically lead to more demand of organic cosmetic products.
The producers and brand owners of organic cosmetic products can also utilize the internet which has become the contemporary marketing tool. A lot of consumers of cosmetic products and other products are increasingly using the internet to obtain information related to the products they are interested in (Braun, 1999, p. 329).
The internet is thus a potential marketing tool for organic cosmetic products. It can be used to educate consumers of cosmetic products on the aforementioned dangers associated with the use of synthetic cosmetic products and products that are just marked as organic but which are essentially synthetic (Peck, and Wiggins, 2006, p. 13).
Consumers of cosmetic products can be given clues on the identification of such products so that they do not get fooled. The internet can also be used to provide information of organic cosmetic products so that they get acquainted with the products and make informed choices. The internet can also be used to make customers aware about companies that produce organic cosmetic products and also make them make informed choices of the company of their preference.
They can also be provided with the wide range of products that organic cosmetic companies offer in order for them to perform an analytical comparison of the various brands of organic cosmetic products (Percy, 2004, p. 421). This will lead to additional customers and make companies win dedicated customers.
The strategic use of the internet will, therefore, help to increase the customer base of organic cosmetic products and also increase the individual market share of individual companies producing organic cosmetic products and that of brand owners.
Companies producing organic products and individual brand owners may also conduct gender-based campaigns aimed at securing more consumers from a certain gender. For instance, cosmetic products are mainly consumed by women. The companies and brand owners may take campaigns to women audiences in order to reach more consumers of organic cosmetic products (Goffman, 1999, p. 23).
Despite the challenges that the organic cosmetic market is facing, the market has experienced a significant growth in the last couple of years. This is particularly true with Europe where there has been increased awareness on the dangers of using synthetic cosmetic products. A number of other factors responsible for the shift in consumer preference from synthetic cosmetic products to organic cosmetic products have been discussed in the paper.
Generally, the organic cosmetic market is growing in Europe but individual market shares of individual brand owners are not that rewarding. This has necessitated the adoption of various marketing strategies aimed at increasing the competitiveness of specific brands, brand owners and companies.
Several marketing strategies have been adopted in Europe without much success. Producers and brand owners of synthetic cosmetic products have increasingly used deceptive means to win good proportions of the cosmetic market. This paper has suggested a number of strategies that can be used to reduce the problem and win a better proportion of the cosmetic market to consume organic cosmetic products.
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