Organic beauty and wellbeing market blooms with 15% growth in 2021

Released today (8 March), Soil Association Certification’s Organic Beauty & Wellbeing Market Report 2022 reveals the market is now worth a record £138.23m after 15% growth in sales in 2021, with shoppers spending £11m on certified organic and natural beauty and wellbeing products every month.

The market has enjoyed 11 years of positive growth, with nine of those being in double digit growth, since 2011 when the market was worth just £31.1m – representing a phenomenal 359% growth over that period.

Soil Association Certification Business Development Director Clare McDermott said: “Sales of certified organic and natural beauty and wellbeing products have achieved nine years of double-digit growth and despite the challenges of Brexit and Covid19 sales grew by 15% in 2021 to £138m. The COSMOS standard, of which Soil Association is a founding member, saw sales of organic and natural cosmetics grow by an impressive 32% last year. The leading global standard for organic and natural beauty now certifies over 50,000 products.

“This remarkable growth is largely down to the significant interest in health and wellness coupled with the greater visibility of environmental issues such as climate change in the media – which has propelled the organic sector into the mainstream as consumers seek to align their purchasing decision with their principles. Consumers are increasingly informed and motivated about what is in their beauty products and we anticipate that these trends will continue into 2022 as the sector influences the wider beauty market and the availability of organic beauty and wellness products grows.”

Much of the growth has been driven by online sales – influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic – with around 20% of the total global beauty sales coming from e-commerce in 2021. A quarter of Soil Association certified brands now make between over a third of their sales online, and 13% sell 91% to 100% of their products via e-commerce. 44% of brands cited the increase in online shopping as a reason for their sales growth. Bricks and mortar retail was severely impacted by the lockdown in early 2021 – it was a mixed bag for some but 38% of Soil Association certified brands saw a decline in sales with store closures cited as the biggest reason for this fall.

Anabel Kindersley, Co-Owner of Neal’s Yard Remedies said: “During the lockdowns when all our stores were closed, online sales really surged, especially our hand-care products, and in particular our much-loved Natural Defence Hand Rub, which instantly became a go to product. With life returning to some sort of normality, online continues to play a key role, but our customers

are also keen to have face to face expertise they find in our stores. Purchasing habits have also evolved as a result of these lockdowns: more than ever customers look for great value products that

make them look good and feel good, in their wellbeing as well as their ethical values.”

Brexit has also impacted the sector causing particular issues for contract manufacturers and it is expected to continue to hit sales over the next 12 months. 88% of Soil Association certified brands believe that supply chain issues will be a top issue in 2022. Export and import issues (50%) and inflation (63%) are also predicted to affect business in the year ahead****. 

This year, the report has three key messages backed by the Soil Association Certification’s own market research data, and wider market research insights:

Certified Organic beauty and wellbeing is growing and innovating

While retail closures due to Covid-19 have caused issues for certified brands, many have also flourished, as the pandemic has caused consumers to take a more holistic approach to their health when purchasing beauty and wellbeing products.

Innovation and new product development are driving sales across organic beauty often realising new opportunities based on consumer concerns such as utilising food waste and refillable packaging. Similarly, demand for wellbeing products such as personal lubricants, candles, dental products and cleaning products is increasing as public focus on organic expands and the consumer brings certified products into more areas of their life.

Certified Organic beauty and wellbeing offers a solution to consumer’s growing environmental concerns

Market research indicates that 30% of consumers say the environmental issue they are most concerned about is a loss of biodiversity, while 36% say it is chemicals entering the environment. Organic certified products come from a system of farming that directly answers to these two concerns, as the use of little to no pesticides in organic agriculture reduces chemicals entering the environment and offers havens where wildlife can thrive. This is not to mention that organic agriculture also offers direct solutions to climate change, cited by most surveyed consumers (53%) as their top environmental concern, through the storing of more carbon in organic soils and less energy being used on organic farms.

Certified Organic beauty and wellbeing offers a solution to consumer’s growing concerns surrounding “greenwashing” in this sector

Consumers are showing increased concern about “greenwashing”, where brands use various tactics to market themselves as environmentally friendly despite the reality falling far behind. This is coupled with the fact that legal regulation around the term “organic” for beauty and wellbeing products is scarce; in the UK, it is legal for brands to label these products as “organic” even if they contain just 1% organic ingredients.

Soil Association COSMOS Organic certification guarantees to consumers that 95% of all physically processed agro-ingredients are organic, and at least 20% of the total ingredients (including water) are organic (for rinse off products at least 10% of the total ingredients must be organic). COSMOS regulation also guarantees that sustainability has been considered throughout the product supply chain, as well as additional concerns like labour and animal rights. 42% of consumers who did not trust brands to be honest about their environmental credentials said they would be more likely to believe a brand was sustainable if it has third party certification accrediting them. It has therefore never been a better time for beauty and wellbeing brands to certify as organic, as consumers look to accreditations like Soil Association COSMOS to validate a product’s sustainability.

Soil Association Certification will be hosting a virtual launch webinar for the Organic Beauty & Wellbeing Market Report 2022 tomorrow (Wednesday 9th March at 11am).

It will be opened by SA Certification’s Business Development Director Clare McDermott with an overview of the key findings of the report from Business Development Manager Sophie Robinson. The webinar will be chaired by Lisa Oxenham, beauty & style director at Marie Claire, in conversation with the following COSMOS Organic certified brands on the report’s key findings, their organic certification stories, and their predictions for the market in the year ahead:

  • Adam Briffa, Commercial Manager, Botanicals
  • Tanya Hawkes, Founder, Therapi Honey Skincare
  • Thomas Kerfoot, Founder and Commercial Director, O&3 Oils