Experts have been predicting the takeover of natural beauty over mainstream beauty products for about 20 years, often leaving consumers underwhelmed by both manufacturer and retailer efforts. But it’s safe to say that natural is now really, truly having a moment.
Nordstrom, for starters, is out to sate consumers’ appetites with the chain’s upcoming natural-leaning outposts. Target has recently expanded their shelf space to accommodate green beauty offerings and has publicly vowed to make sure the products it sells are eco-conscious. And this week, husband-and-wife team Marla and Barry Beck, co-founders and CEO/COO of Bluemercury, are also stepping up their natural game by offering a slew of new products that fall into various natural focuses: vegan, clean, organic, raw, gluten-free and/or all-natural.
“This has been an evolution,” said Marla on the new way to categorize products in her stores. “We’ve always been in the natural game. We opened our first store almost 18 years ago in 1999. When we started, we carried a lot of natural brands but at the time, no one was interested in them.”
Natural beauty is expected to reach $13.2 billion by 2018, according to Transparency Market Research, making “lack of interest” surely a sentiment of the past.
The pair have started what they call a natural pilot program in 28 of their 122 locations nationwide by introducing a new crop of niche, natural beauty brands to their clients. They include Indie Lee, One Love Organics, Tracie Martyn, OSEA, Raw is Everything, Juice Beauty and Odacite, not to mention M-61 and Lune+Aster, which were created by Marla and are proprietary to Bluemercury.
Even more interestingly, for the next 60 days, the duo will use six of their prime stores as focus groups, showcasing a larger selection in the hope of finding out exactly what appeals to whom. These stores include: Corte Madera and Larchmont, CA; Westport, CT; Union Square and West Village, NY; Sea Girt, NJ.
“We hightailed these specific ones because there’s already a known demand or client request for these kind of products, plus, they’re valid testing spots because of their urban and suburban locations, variety of consumers, and an appetite and interest in certain brands that already exists,” she said.
Once the findings are in, the couple will roll out the brands that have done the best to their other stores.
“This is an exciting time. We wanted to put a portfolio of products together, ones that are clean, vegan, gluten-free, raw or organic, to see how they do as a whole rather than just one brand. This way we will have a better feel for the opportunity,” Marla said. “Then we are going to cross that information with different price points, textures, branding and storytelling, paired with what the creators are bringing to the table. There’s a lot to choose from and to consider.”
Marla added that now is a particularly exciting time to launch new products and brands such as these.
“There’s so much demand for natural beauty right now, especially in the color cosmetics area. We think that’s a new frontier and we’re excited to see what people are going to do within this category,” she said.
She also mentioned a healthy economy as another factor.
“The fundraising market is strong, as is the consumer market. Plus there’s an appetite for what’s new and unique,” she said. “Start-ups or brands that don’t have advertising funds don’t necessarily need them because social media is there to get the word out.”