With unemployment as high as it has been in a generation, finding a job is tough. Competition for jobs is keen, and everyone needs an edge to get ahead. Increasingly, that edge means doing everything possible to look one’s best.
For men, that may mean “six-pack abs,” a wrinkle-free face and an absence of gray hair. For women, it means looking 10-20 years younger than their chronological age. It also means enjoying a helping hand from products, like teeth whiteners; self-tanners; “beauty-from-within” foods, drinks and supplements; and, possibly, plastic surgery.
Regarding the latter, plastic surgery was once the domain of Hollywood celebrities. No more. A boom in plastic surgery has only recently cooled--a victim of the contracting economy. Even so, demand for non-invasive procedures, like Botox injections, often much less expensive than plastic surgery, increased in 2009. This niche posted a near 1% gain in 2009 compared to an 18% decline in plastic surgery, reports the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
With consumers looking for non-invasive solutions to beauty problems, the timing has never been better for new generations of cosmeceutical foods, drinks and supplements. Many of these products focus on general beauty benefits, such as skin hydration, while others concentrate on specific areas, such as hair or fingernails.
As promising as the beauty-from-within concept is, it has had a rocky start on the new products front. According to Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics, the number of new beauty-oriented food and drink products launched worldwide contracted to just 76 new stock-keeping units (SKUs) in 2009, retreating to levels not seen since 2004, when 72 products were launched.
The correlation between economically flush times and enthusiasm for beauty-from-within foods and drinks is illustrated by the peak in worldwide product introductions taking place in 2007, just prior to the beginning of the economic downturn, when 140 new products debuted. Since then, introductions have dipped by nearly 50%, and the industry is at a crossroads.
Furthermore, most of the new product innovation that is taking place is occurring outside of the U.S. The center of gravity for beauty-from-within products is Asia, especially Japan, where the concept of “you are what you eat” is firmly entrenched. Sales of oral beauty food and beverage products in Japan were reported to be $623.7 million in 2008, over 10 times as large as the $60.8 million in sales for the U.S. the same year, says Datamonitor.
Many European markets also check in ahead of the U.S. France is number two in the worldwide pecking order, with $179.5 million in sales of oral beauty foods and drinks in 2008. Italy, Spain, Germany and the U.K. all outpaced the U.S. in oral beauty food and drink sales in 2008, according to Datamonitor.
Scanning through recent new product launches from around the globe, one is impressed by the wide range of beauty-enhancing products in Asia. While some categories, like bottled water, have long been associated with physical beauty, beauty-enhancing salt, soups, snack bars and chewing gum are unusual.
Ingredients for Beauty
A common thread that runs through many of these introductions is an infusion of collagen, the main structural component of skin. The amount of collagen in the body diminishes as one grows older, resulting in sagging, wrinkled skin. Many of the newer cosmeceutical products from Asia address this deficiency with formulations containing high levels of collagen, though it is not clear how much orally ingested collagen actually targets aging skin.
Products include E-Mart For My Body Beauty Gum Chewing Gum, a new entry from South Korea that contains collagen, vitamin C and hesperidin. Nagatanien Collagen Beauty Instant Cup Soup features 3,000mg of collagen and a jelly texture in a formula that contains five types of cereals, including barley, rice and foxtail millet, along with chicken and wolfberries (goji berries). Bihadajio (Beautiful Skin Salt) is a unique, new and edible salt sold in Japan that consists of Himalayan rock salt combined with collagen.
Even instant coffee is going the collagen-added route. New in the Philippines is Pro Health San Mig Pro-Beauty Coffeemix. Sweetened with low-calorie sweetener, this sugar-free instant coffee is said to offer the “same San Mig coffee taste,” with the added goodness of collagen protein.
One characteristic many of the collagen-fortified products feature is packaging that touts the exact amount of collagen contained in the product. The package violator proclaiming the 10,000mg of collagen that Nissui Collagen One Pot Dish has reminds one of roadside billboards touting the current jackpot for the Mega Millions lottery. Clearly, more is better when it comes to collagen for beauty-enhancing products sold in Asia.
Two other ingredients often found in consumable beauty products hitting markets in Asia as well as Europe are hyaluronic acid and coenzyme Q10. Some 400µg of hyaluronic acid plus 100mg of collagen, 700mg of calcium and 10.5mg of iron are in each portion of Pola Calorie Control Soup. New in Japan from Pola Cosmetics, this powdered soup for dieting reconstitutes with hot water and swells in the stomach, when it comes in contact with gastric acid. In doing so, it produces a satiety effect against hunger, while enhancing beauty at the same time; it is an unusual combination of benefits.
Coenzyme Q10 has become the beauty ingredient of choice for a handful of new beverage products. New in Croatia is Svjeze Mlijeko + Koenzim Q10, a fluid milk packaged in a half-liter bottle that contains coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E, to help consumers achieve beauty on the inside and outside. Estonia is where you will find new Groebi Beaute Vital Skin with Q10 Mineral Water, featuring a peach-lemon flavor and said to guard against free radicals, while preventing cell aging.
Also getting in on the game is Avon Japan, with its Avon Vitaforma functional powder drink mix that can be mixed with water or milk. It offers a laundry list of skin-enhancing ingredients, like collagen, glucosamine, royal jelly, coenzyme Q10 and amino acids. Avon’s involvement marks another interesting dimension of the beauty-from-within trend, which finds cosmetic firms dabbling in the market for consumable beauty products.
The reason for the interest is simple--growth in markets, like oral beauty supplements (dietary supplements marketed as having beauty benefits), as well as beauty foods and drinks, are expected to expand at a rate easily exceeding that of the overall skincare products market.
Along these lines, L’Oreal and Nestle paired up to launch Inneov Fermete in 2009, a daily cosmeceutical pill said to combine the best in nutritional and dermatological science. The anti-wrinkle product contains lycopene, a natural compound found in tomatoes, and works by preserving old skin cells while promoting the growth of new ones. The product is said to dramatically increase skin elasticity after six months of use, though results can be noticed after three months of daily use.
Exactly how many consumers are willing to commit to a product for 3-6 months before seeing a visible benefit remains to be seen. The track record for consumer patience in this regard is less than stellar. One factor behind the failure of Danone’s Essensis yogurt in the beauty food market in Europe was its inability to produce visible results quickly. Essensis’ promise of reduced cellular water loss of 15% in six weeks was not enough to generate strong repeat sales.
Pricing, of course, is another issue. Premium pricing hurt Essensis, marketed alongside regular yogurt, facilitating easy price comparisons. Inneov Fermete also carries a premium price, averaging about $4 per day, which is slightly higher than Nestle’s Glowelle high-antioxidant beauty drink mix, which can be purchased at Neiman Marcus stores in the U.S. Will consumers line up to pay over $100 a month to get rid of wrinkles? Selected markets in Europe and South America will be the first to find out; distribution of Inneov Fermete in the U.S. and UK will come later.
Consumer Attitudes Toward Beauty From Within
Consumers around the world are of two minds on the concept of beauty-from-within; they are both curious and skeptical. A 2008 Datamonitor consumer survey found that nearly half of all consumers surveyed globally found beauty benefit claims made by oral beauty supplements to be “not credible” or “not at all credible.” American consumers were slightly more trusting in the concept, with 45.2% of consumers finding claims not credible, but this shows the long road ahead for product manufacturers.
Several new products for American consumers are just beginning to make that journey, including Sleeping Beauty Sleeping Tablets from Blaine, Washington-based Sleeping Beauty, and Yogi Skin DeTox Herbal Tea Supplement from Golden Temple of Oregon. Featuring the tag line “a beautiful day begins with a beautiful sleep,” Sleeping Beauty is a unique sleep and skin supplement that highlights the role that sleep loss may play in maintaining healthy, beautiful skin. It features a blend of nutrients, including biotin, coenzyme Q10 and grape seed extract, to nourish the skin. To promote sleep, these tablets also contain melatonin, valerian root extract and passion flower extract.
Yogi Skin DeTox purifies the skin from the inside out, with fragrant rose petal and hibiscus ingredients to cool and soothe the skin. Traditional liver cleansers, burdock root and yellow dock root, as well as red clover, are said to help purify the skin, while organic green tea provides an antioxidant boost.
Exotic ingredients are also on tap, with Votre Vu’s SnapDragon Beauty Beverage. Sold in a 30fl oz bottle, this drink blends anti-aging Superfruits, botanicals and popular beauty-enhancing ingredients, like collagen and aloe vera. Pomegranate and acai berry juices are featured Superfruits, and this drink has the distinction of being one of the first in the U.S. to contain baobab fiber.
Yumberry, acai, green tea, goji, pomegranate and blueberry extracts are all found in Noah Naturals Anti-Aging Beauty Beverage Mix. These single-serve beverage mix sachets come in 14- and 30-count boxes, encouraging one to “drink yourself gorgeous” with a cocktail of ingredients, including marine collagen and lycopene extract.
So, what does the future hold for cosmeceutical innovation? Resveratrol looks like a rising star, with its anti-aging benefits. Believed to be the ingredient in red wine responsible for the “French Paradox,” resveratrol is coming on strong in supplements and is even showing up in new foods, like the Winetime Resveratrol Bar in the U.S. Consumer research conducted by MultiSponsor Surveys found awareness of resveratrol among adults has risen from 5% in 2008 to 23% in 2009, better than a four-fold increase.
As resveratrol catches on, look for it to be combined with other beauty-enhancing ingredients. That is the case with Nutra Resveratrol Anti-Ageing Thirst Quencher 10-Calorie Energy Drink, a new product launch in the U.S., fortified with resveratrol in combination with dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE). The DMAE ingredient is said to tighten and firm the skin, though DMAE has proven to be controversial for its possibly short-lived effects in topically applied skin care products. Nevertheless, Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics has charted a doubling of DMAE-containing food and non-food products in the last two years.
Another cosmeceutical ingredient to watch is lutein, a substance found in abundance in green leafy vegetables that has been traditionally associated with eye health. New research into lutein is finding the carotenoid can improve skin hydration and elasticity. Lutein may even be able to improve the skin’s ability to tolerate sun exposure, opening up a new avenue for cosmeceuticals. Also offering sun protective benefits is astaxanthin, a carotenoid billed as the world’s strongest antioxidant, with 10 times the antioxidants of beta carotene.
Astaxanthin is one of the featured ingredients in the SunPill, a pill sold in the U.S. that claims to boost UV protection by protecting the skin from the inside out. Unlike topical sunblock and sunscreen products, SunPill protects all of the skin and will not rub or come off during swimming and sweating.
Making Specific Claims
Look for future cosmeceuticals to offer more specific and highly targeted beauty benefits, such as sun protection. This would help bolster the somewhat amorphous market position that beauty-from-within products now hold.
So far, relatively few beauty-from-within foods and drinks delve much beyond general beauty claims. Exceptions include JU Hair Shine Fruit Juice (featuring apricot, coconut, milk and honey ingredients, with a blend of seeds) and Nail Strong Fruit Juice (containing raspberry and goji berry with wheat germ), both offered in the U.K. by Daniels Group.
Regardless of where the market is right now, consumers are curious about the concept of beauty-from-within. The right product and benefits could tap into a market that could be primed for rapid growth. A May 2009 Datamonitor consumer survey found that 50.1% of American consumers are interested in foods and beverages that promise to improve appearance, but are not currently buying any. Convincing even a small percentage of these fence sitters to become buyers could create a sizeable market. pf