Green, “bio”, “eco”, organic, and natural are several names given to a growing trend of promoting health benefits in products containing natural ingredients replacing chemical formulations in the cosmetics and beauty sector. Nevertheless, these words used randomly to refer to the same thing are not really synonyms and create confusion for the consumer. The Mexican market for natural beauty products is expected to experience an important growth in the upcoming years and this document provides a snapshot of this market and the opportunities available to U.S. exporters seeking to service the Mexican consumer.
Natural beauty products are the latest trend in the sector. After decades of marketing that chemical innovations provided cutting edge technology for beauty and skin care, manufacturers are now looking into nature to offer a new line of products that catch the eye of the consumer who is now more environmentally and health conscious that the previous generations. Natural products are offered as an alternative that is respectful of the environment and the user.
Even though the market segment represented by the potential users of natural products is still small, it is expected to grow at rates of more than 20 percent per year in comparison to the rest of personal care and beauty products - which are not advertised as natural. Unfortunately, no statistics are kept in Mexico regarding the market size for organic and natural products. For this document we contacted the Mexican National Chamber of Cosmetic Industry (CANIPEC) and found that imports and exports of natural products are differentiated from the general beauty products. Cosmetic and beauty products are tracked through the Harmonized System Code (HS Code) regardless of their organic or natural content.
The value of the Mexican cosmetics market is estimated over USD$9.1 billion, which places it as the third largest in the Western Hemisphere just behind the United States and Brazil. Nevertheless, it is hard to exactly say how much of that general market belongs to natural and organic products. What does seem to be the general agreement is that the trend of having the consumer ask for more natural ingredients in their beauty products has only just begun.
Definitions and Standards
Being such a new and diverse sector, terminology and regulation is still not very clear in Mexico. A natural cosmetic is different from an organic product. Natural cosmetics and beauty products contain natural extracts and ingredients that were harvested through conventional agriculture. On the other hand, organic products contain ingredients obtained from ecological agriculture that is organic, pesticide free and follows practices that are environmentally conscious.
Mexico still does not have a standard for these products, unlike Europe or the United States. This situation creates not only confusion for the consumer but ample opportunity for products to deceive the general public by randomly using terms to create an illusion of wellness that is at times exaggerated.
The most common certifications that are recognized in the Mexican market are:
This is a certifying organization based out of France but with recognition in the European Union. Since the Mexican market has serious European players in the cosmetics and beauty sector, this certification is starting to be recognized among consumers. Ecocert has more than 80,000 products certified worldwide.
In the United Sates, there isn’t a specific regulation for organic products in the cosmetics and beauty products industry. Manufacturers have turned to food standards and thus it is the USDA Organic seal which is used in some beauty products. The USDA Organic label is used when at least 95% of the product’s ingredients are from ecological agriculture. The term “natural” is not regulated by the FDA for cosmetic products so several manufacturers use the term “completely natural” or “plant derived ingredients” but the formulations can contain other chemical ingredients as well.
Due precisely to the lack of standards many beauty companies and stores are using words like botanical, herbal, natural, pure, and organic to market brands, each using its own in-house definition. Mexican regulation for cosmetics and beauty products tends to follow the U.S. regulation, and it is expected that will be the case for organics, natural and bio products. Still, there isn’t talk about the creation of a regulation in the near future to standardize the use of the terms related to natural or organic beauty products.
Basic beauty products continue to be in demand in the Mexican market although this need is well covered by the existing manufacturers. The following chart shows the top ten products being imported into Mexico. Organic and natural products follow a very similar trend, according to CANIPEC.
In the natural and organic beauty sector in Mexico suppliers range from local manufacturers that might sell at improvised markets to upscale brands sold at department stores. Nevertheless, direct selling through multi-level marketing has been by far the most successful channel to tap into the largest market of middle and lower income consumers. Some of them with more than 20 years of presence in this market direct selling brands with the most prestige and recognition include: Avon, Amway, Arabela, Belcorp, Cristian Lay, Duleir, Dyclass, Fuller, Giselle Delerme, Jafra, Mary Kay, Natura, NuSkin, Oriflame, Stanhome, Usana, Yves Rocher, and Zermat among many others. Most of these brands have already identified the need to offer natural and organic lines in their catalogs.