It is now all too common for brands to want to be a part of niche lifestyles such as being vegan and cruelty-free or sustainable. The key challenge is how to formulate for such niche lifestyles in a way that is suitable to these individual beliefs and that meets the requirements of these popular ideals. Niche lifestyles are becoming more prevalent and more mainstream due to the millennial generation that is compelled to save our dying planet. The pursuit of global environmental sustainability is paramount to this group and cannot be ignored when coming up with a formula for a new product on the market.
To start, it is important to identify the subtle differences between definitions such as vegan and vegetarian. Vegan cosmetic and personal care products do not contain any animal products or by-products or animal derivatives. A list of these might include beeswax, honey, or lanolin. Vegetarian products on the other hand may contain ingredients that may have been obtained or produced from living or killed animals. These subtle differences matter to niche lifestyles and can determine how a product might be perceived. At the moment these key niche lifestyles are trending:
- Vegan cosmetics and hair care
- Plant-based eating
- Wellness vacations
- Personalized fitness choices
- Selfie culture
The vegan cosmetics industry is booming due to the demand of consumers wanting ethical non-animal-based products. This trend arose globally off of another trend—being against animal testing. Hence many major retailers are seeing high increases in “vegan” cosmetic searches online. Another popular trend, widely searched for online as of 2018, is “plant-based foods.” In fact, it has become the new “organic.” This trend started predominantly amongst millenial female YouTubers and Instagrammers.
Personalised fitness choices ranging from one-on-one personal training to on-demand virtual-reality fitness classes are a trend across the globe, analogous to selfie culture. There is a tacit system of approval on social media amongst those who are like-minded in a view or belief. Social media has become an outlet for approval between peers who post content that says, essentially, “I care about animals, therefore I am against animal testing and only use vegan products in my daily regime.” To understand this is of utmost importance, as it a social movement that should not be ignored by brands who want to succeed in creating a brand or product line.
The challenges for formulating cosmetics for niche lifestyles are many, but let us consider these points. They are:
- Everyone is the expert: Readily available information online gives everyone the opportunity to make their own choices and values based on opinions. The shortcoming to this is that in some cases it is not based on scientific facts or evidence.
- Requirements: Meeting the criteria of 100% vegan requires transparency, right from sourcing base ingredients to independent testing.
- Challenges: Outsourcing independent testing can prove to be challenging when looking for partners that do not conduct animal testing for other companies or government bodies in order to meet requirements.
- Solutions: Working with certified and transparent bodies is the only way forward to formulating niche cosmetics.
The product itself must be:
- Gender Neutral—whereby both men and women can use it and appreciate it.
- Ageless—there should be no barrier based on age; the range must be from teens to mature. While the experience with the product might slightly differ based on the age of the consumer, its functionality should satisfy all ages.
- Tech Savvy—the product must be able to be displayed through posts and testimonials online or via tech mediums to be shared out.
Consumer requirements mainly pertain to certification. To satisfy these consumer requirements, a brand must be on board with these points when it comes to certification:
Take for example commonly found seals and logos found on vegan cosmetics and personal care products. They are used to indicate whether a brand is as a whole vegan or if only a particular product is vegan. An example would be PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies “Cruelty-Free and Vegan” logo, which is used to certify a vegan brand. Such labeling can assist consumers in verifying the requirements they are looking for in niche lifestyle products.
While we have considered all these points regarding what it takes to formulate for personal ideals, there are other challenges that we must be aware of. For example, the European cosmetics industry must not only comply with cosmetics animal testing and marketing bans (under Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009/EC), it must also meet the terms of REACH, the EU regulation that requires any company wanting to market a particular chemical substance to register said chemical. The shortcoming as a whole is that REACH has a whole list of requirements, and many of those requirements demand testing on animals.
To recap, issues that must be considered carefully in formulating for personal ideals are:
The debate is not only about packaging, or the raw ingredients that go into a product. It is not only about using ineffective naturals and the depletion of natural resources. The debate goes deeper—it is about seeing the bigger picture, one that includes a sequence of events that, ultimately, leads to a cosmetic that could highlight a pretty face or create glossy and styled hair tresses, all while satisfying consumers’ personal ideals.