Australians not convinced by “beauty foods”

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 15th July 2009

Despite being heralded as the future of personal care, ‘beauty foods’ are yet to become the worldwide phenomenon that many manufacturers hoped, according to Mark Whalley, Consumer Markets Analyst at Datamonitor.

Beauty foods, also commonly referred to as ‘nutricosmetics’, look to incorporate appearance benefits such as anti-aging properties into edible foods and beverages. The idea has great appeal but, while Australians have displayed a casual interest, they are yet fully embraced the idea – perhaps hampered by the limited options available.

The entire concept promotes the notion of “you are what you eat”. Many understand that drinking water can have a hydrating effect on the skin, but increasingly formulations can have positive effects on other areas of the body such as people’s hair or nails too.

Part of the reason behind the relative lack of interest in Australia is the population’s lack of concern about appearance, according to Datamonitor.

A survey by the research firm in 2008 discovered that just over a quarter (28%) of Aussies agreed with the statement “I feel under pressure to look good”, whereas two in five (40%) disagreed. “Perhaps predictably, females felt appearance pressure more than males, 32% and 23% agreeing with the statement respectively,” Mr Whalley added.

However, there are still several encouraging signs for the industry. Beauty from within is clearly something that Australians believe in. “When asked as part of the same survey, three quarters (75%) stated that they were conscious of the link between diet and appearance, whereas only 8% disagreed,” Mr Whalley advised.

Furthermore, a separate Datamonitor survey, conducted in April and May of 2009, shows that interest in these products clearly exists, but that consumers are holding back for various reasons. Only 21% of Australians said they were not interested in the idea of foods and beverages which improved personal appearance. What was more indicative of the current situation was the fact that more than half (51%) said they were interested but not actively buying these products. This shows that industry players need to do more to convince these consumer groups that beauty foods are worth paying good money for.

“It is likely that the economic crisis has held back the industry significantly,” Mr Whalley said. “The perceived high price of these products means that consumers are overlooking them in order to save money.”

“However, what is really inhibiting the industry is trust,” he continued. “People want to believe that they can look better just by eating or drinking a product, but the truth is that many Australians are skeptical about this. Manufacturers must do all they can to convince people to really get behind beauty foods, because the interest is there. There are effective ways which this can be done, such as gaining an endorsement from respected professional associations. This gives the consumer confidence that what they read on the packet will be a good indicator of what happens after consumption.”

Beauty foods had gathered some momentum by June last year, with the introduction of unique ingredients like collagen, amino acids and age-old herbs to some products. As such, a number of research firms listed nutricosmetics as an emerging trend in 2009, but now it appears that their emergence may have been put on hold for another year.