Triveni Kulkarni
Triveni is Mintel's Senior Research Analyst, Beauty and Personal Care, based in Mumbai.

During the Home and Personal Care Ingredients Exhibition and Conference India (HPCI) from 28-29 April, Mintel discussed the impact of sustainability in the beauty and personal care industry. 

A focus on sustainable packaging

The pandemic and lockdown measures have made Indian consumers more aware of their environmental impact and more than half are particularly concerned about plastic waste, which is the most widely used packaging material among beauty products. A throwaway culture, non-recyclable packaging and poor recycling facilities all contribute to plastic pollution.

In response to consumers’ rising eco-consciousness, one area of sustainability that has become a focal point for beauty players is packaging. Over one-fourth of Indians agree that for a brand/product to be considered sustainable, it has to have eco-friendly packaging, while 27% attribute it to recycling programs and free from ingredients that can cause pollution. 

Furthermore, data from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) shows that 7% of beauty and personal care product launches in India from January-December 2021 carried environmentally-friendly packaging claims compared to 5% during the same period in 2020, which closely links packaging to sustainability. 

For example, Colgate-Palmolive India launched recyclable toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes in 2021 in order to create a recyclable alternative to the billions of toothpaste tubes and brushes that end up in landfills every year.

Source: AFAQS.com

Natural ingredients are deemed good for both people and the planet

The emphasis on health benefits is a big draw to sustainable products. As many as 61% of Indians who describe sustainable beauty products as made of natural ingredients and free from harsh chemicals are motivated to buy sustainable beauty and personal products to avoid chemicals that may adversely affect their health. More than half (55%) of consumers say they are less damaging to skin/hair while being more effective on their skin/hair concerns.

Source: Aloelab

Aloelab’s beauty line claims to be environmentally responsible as its products’ formulas are made from locally sourced and plant-based ingredients such as 100% organic Aloe vera juice. Using natural locally sourced ingredients enhances the positive skin benefits of products, at the same time minimising environmental impact.

Highlighting natural claims, along with recycling initiatives, to respond to consumers’ growing interest in “natural”, while also limiting their packaging waste, can encourage their purchase decisions.

What we think

Plastic is becoming more undesirable to consumers and they are looking for more sustainable options. Innovation in plastic alternatives such as reusable, refillable, compostable and biodegradable options can help brands meet their sustainability targets. At the same time, consumers’ desire for natural and safer products, delivered by responsible companies, will continue to grow, together with concerns about environmental impact and healthier lifestyles.

However, it is important to note that product efficacy is still an important purchase factor for more than one-third of Indians. The physical attributes of a product, such as quality and longevity, will continue to significantly impact consumers’ purchase decisions. This means that brands need to prove that the products they offer – especially those positioned to be sustainable – will live up to consumers’ expectations for a valuable product and that their investment is worth it.