According to global market expert, London-based Euromonitor International, skin care is still the most important category in value terms within beauty and personal care market in the world, comprising 23% of global sales in 2010. In the personal hygiene, perfumery and cosmetics universe, Brazil has become a giant rising to third place in the world just behind the United States and Japan.
Since 2010 when Brazil sold US$ 6 billion in perfumes compared to the US$ 5.3 in the US, Brazilians became number 1 in perfume consumption.
Brazilians have created in recent years a new middle class. If by middle class we understand households with an annual disposable income of over US$ 15,000 then the country counts on 32.4 million middle-class households, placing Brazil in fifth place, ahead of France and the UK.
Even when defining middle-class as households with an annual income of over US$ 25,000, the South American country would get 19.8 million households, more than Spain or Canada, for example.
Even though a little late to the party, Brazil is also playing catch up to the organic cosmetics movement around the world. With half of its territory still covered with green the country is a natural in this new health-conscious, forest-preserving, self-sustainable universe. It is estimated that the organic cosmetics segment will grow 7.4% in Brazil this year alone.
Take Beraca, for example, one of the pioneers in the market, which was created in 1991. The company has become a global leader in supplying Amazonian raw material for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry. And they seem to be making good money while growing at an enviable rate of more than 20% a year in the last five years.
The company is also famous for its sustainable practices and for their work inside local communities that gather fruits and seeds. They train small farmers to extract the right way the raw material they need.
“We work with about 1500 people who live in riverside communities around the Amazon Forest and the Atlantic Forest. Before, these people used to burn trees and cut down trees to sell them to loggers. They’ve learned now that can earn more money while at the same time protecting the forest,” informed Filipe Sabará, Beraca’s director for new business.
Small farmers learn with instructors from the company how to properly gather the material needed in a way that the active ingredient is preserved to be used in its whole strength in the cosmetics industry.
The world is fast learning that the greener a cosmetic is, the better it can provide a healthier alternative to chemical and refined products.
“Consumers began to associate skin, nail and hair problems to synthetic cosmetics. Organic products give the feeling of not harming the body,” says Sabará.
For Sabará, the main challenge for any organic company is the high investment required together with the need to maintain a level of quality required by the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry. It’s much harder to insure the same high standard of a product when dealing with natural products derived from plants that depend on weather, soil, plagues.
Another biggie in the Brazilian cosmetic industry is Natura. Created in 1969, it has become a leading company for personal products like lotions, creams, perfumes, deodorants and sunscreens. Having adopted a direct sales approach in 1974 the company was able to surpass Avon in Brazil since 2006. Natura presents itself as an eco-friendly sustainable company.
Describing itself in its site, Natura says, “Our products are the highest expression of our essence. To develop them, we mobilize social networks able to integrate scientific knowledge and wisdom of traditional communities, promoting at the same time, the sustainable use of the Brazilian botanical’s rich biodiversity. We do not use animal testing and adhere to the strictest international safety standards.”
Alessandro Mendes, Director of Natura’s Packaging and Products Development, says that 80% of the raw materials used in the cosmetics they make come from plants, which are grown in a sustainable way. The remainder uses synthetic ingredients.
Mendes recognizes that natural doesn’t translate always in better benefits for the health of the consumer adding that organic products, however, are always more concerned with the environment than the synthetic items, like the ones extracted from petroleum.
While it develops active ingredients in their labs, Natura also relies on local suppliers – mostly small and medium businesses from whom the company demands strict commitment to green and sustainable rules.