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Chloé Arjona 01.05.24

Health at the heart of consumers’ expectations of virtuous beauty

Decodings

Virtuous beauty encompasses notions such as “clean beauty” and “green beauty”. To gain a better understanding of what consumers expect from these concepts, NellyRodi’s Beauty experts used a social media listening survey, analysing almost 2.5 million online conversations in France and the United States, for our study Virtuous Beauty (October 2023). The results highlight a marked need for reassurance, manifested in expectations centred on health.

The study shows that 10% of the notions associated with virtuous beauty revolve around the non-toxicity of formulas. Although environmental awareness and consumer commitment are growing with the notions of local, vegan or cruelty-free products, health remains at the heart of their concerns. Their approach is resolutely focused on finding the ‘cleanest’ formulations possible.

To protect their health, consumers have taken advantage of applications such as Yuka and INCI Beauty to develop their expertise. Their online conversations show that they know how to accurately identify undesirable substances and ingredients, referred to as “nasties” and encompassing chemicals, synthetics and allergens. The term “nasties-free” represents 8% of the notions associated with virtuous beauty by consumers (Virtuous Beauty, NellyRodi).

However, this approach based on the health and safety of formulas is approached with varying degrees of expertise in online conversations. For Internet users, a product that respects health is natural, or even organic. Analysis of the volume of their online conversations shows that 50% of them focus on the naturalness of the product. Even if attitudes to the notion of “green chemistry” or “responsible chemistry” are evolving, the binary approach of online conversations pits respect for the skin against the synthetic composition of products.

The challenge for brands is therefore to educate people to renew the discourse that pits nature against science. Even if most conversations pit the two against each other, consumers are increasingly able to understand certain subtleties when they are explained to them. Brands can explain the manufacturing process, detail the benefits of their synthetic ingredients… By justifying their choices in a transparent and educational way, the perception of virtuous beauty can evolve towards a more nuanced and fairer definition.

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