by alisa marie beyer
Buying into Functional Foods
American women bat a cautious eye at nutraceuticals and
nutricosmetics, but still believe in inside-out beauty.
So much confusion swirls around the topic of nutricosmetics. Beauty consumers ask: What are they? How
do they differ from nutraceuticals? Are they
safe? Even with all of these questions, the
fact remains that women are open to just
about anything when it comes to beautifying
themselves. East has definitely met West
with an explosion of new nutricosmetics
and nutraceuticals, already popular in Asian
markets, flooding Western markets. What
will it take to get them to go from confused
Swallowing the Idea
TO GET OVER THE FUNCTIONAL FOOD HURDLE
1. K.I.S.S.—“Keep it simple, stupid!” Educate the beauty consumer on the ABCs of nutricosmetics
and nutraceuticals through packaging, marketing and advertising. This is a brand new category
for her and she needs a lot of information.
2. Communicate the safety of your product. Women want to know what they are ingesting
is as safe as possible.
3. Stress the ease and convenience of on-the-go beauty or a once-a-day dietary supplement.
4. Emphasize and RE-EMPHASIZE the importance of a long-term commitment to the regimen
for true beauty benefits.
5. Don’t promise a magic potion. Overpromising and under delivering on efficacy is
the kiss of death for your product.
The old adage, “You are what you eat,” is
a seemingly simple concept, but when it
comes to nutraceuticals and nutricosmetics,
the idea is a bit harder to swallow. Foods
specifically developed to enhance beauty
are one of the newest trends, but perhaps
the hardest to market in North America.
Convincing skeptics that the products are
both cosmetically effective and food-grade is
the biggest challenge.
According to the 2008 Pink Report “The
Age of Naturals,” 72% of women who bought
natural or organic beauty products believed
in the concept of inside-out beauty—that
what is ingested is equally key to physical
beauty. Even so, women buyers still remain
cautious in trying nutricosmetics, with
an astounding 91% not knowing what a
nutricosmetic is. But, don’t fret, their lack
of education has no correlation with their
willingness to try, swinging the doors wide
open to marketers and manufacturers.
In Asian markets, notably Japan,
nutraceuticals are anything but uncommon.
The Japanese have a long-standing and rich
culture with herbal remedies. Something like
collagen-enriched chicken soup for lunch
followed by collagen marshmallows for
dessert might seem an odd thing to order in
the West, but the Japanese find nothing at all
unusual about it. It certainly won’t be long
until the West catches up, but, for now, an
emerging nutraceutical and nutricosmetic
market is beginning to sprout. From gummy
bears to yogurt, eating and drinking to attain
beautiful skin remains the newest segment of
beauty, and savvy marketers and formulators
should not wait any longer to make their
foray into the category.
Currently, teas and waters are the biggest
product categories, but experts maintain
that the largest potential for growth in the
U.S. lies with dairy and chocolate products.
Because Western beauty consumers are
late to the game, and clearly more skeptical
than their Asian counterparts, dairy and
chocolate are a much less scary proposition.
But why? An unsophisticated palette?
Absolutely not. Western palettes love
chocolate, and if consumers can eat it and
gain beauty benefits, it’s a no brainer—they’ll
happily eat it. Also, the perception of dairy,
especially when it comes to yogurts, is
very adventurous. Consumers are already
comfortable with knowing that it is packed
with all kinds of things that they don’t
clearly understand anyway—so why not have
it offer a beauty benefit? This is not sneaky,
it’s just smartly tapping into what women are
more likely to accept.
The Proof is in the Punch
In late 2008, Nestlé launched a clinically
backed beauty drink dietary supplement. The
drink, cleverly named Glowelle—playing on
the words “glowing/wellness/woman”—has
made its way to the top tier of the beauty
market, selling at prestigious Neiman Marcus.
Already, other retailers are clambering to get
it into their doors. “It’s really exciting to bring
a clinically proven product to women that
helps them get healthy-looking, beautiful skin