The Taste Of Beauty: French Nutricosmetics Brands Conquering East And West
Nutricosmetics have found their way to consumers’ hearts around the globe by offering a holistic approach to beauty. And French companies seem to have found the right formula to win over even the most demanding beautistas.
“You are what you eat” is a time-honored saying found in many languages and cultures. That the foods you ingest are something more than just daily sustenance, but also shape your whole body and being, hair to toes, is an idea that has deep roots in ancestral medicines, especially in Asia. Nutricosmetics, a portmanteau of “nutrition” and “cosmetics” takes that to a modern retail sector in a whole new way. Caps, pills, drops, vials or even gummies … Edible beauty puts on several forms but all have the same purpose: chemically gathering in one single easy-to-swallow dosage a mix of vitamins, proteins (collagen, for example) and/or other molecules (such as hyaluronic acid) that are critical to cells and tissues. This way, consumers easily get their daily intake of key nutrients to take care of their skin, nails, hair and immune system, while also holding the potential to treat or prevent everything from balding to ageing.
Though nutricosmetics can be traced back to the 1980s, it has been booming in the past few years. As of 2020, the nutricosmetics market was valued at $6.9billion, and it is estimated to register an annual growth rate of 8.05% by 2026 (source: Mordor Intelligence).
“It has become a global market and there is not one country in the world that does not have interest in nutricosmetics today,” explains Frédéric Levy, General Manager of French BIOCYTE laboratory, a leading global brand of high-end beauty supplements targeting skin and hair care, immunity and weight loss. “It is not only about the cosmetics market pushing the nutricosmetics up, but about aesthetic medicine offering a way to better understand the importance of preventive beauty.”
Bringing French flavor to edible beauty in the U.S.
The biggest market share is in Asia, and especially Japan, where nutricosmetics has long been part of women’s routine and often takes surprising and playful shapes (drinks, marshmallows, etc.). In the United States, the market is focused more on food supplements that enter the self care and well-being sectors.
In a European market that is otherwise lagging behind, France is registering notable growth. From this country already known worldwide for its cosmetics industry, successful edible beauty brands are now targeting Asian and U.S. markets for nutricosmetics exports.
Launched in 2017 after more than 18 months of research and development, Madame La Présidente, specializes in “hair beauty from within.” Now boasting a total of 10 “in” (edible) and “out” (topical) products, the French brand has designed targeted formulas to address hair loss, lack of volume and glow for women but also pregnant women, men and kids. Madame La Présidente has built its reputation mainly through word of mouth on home soil, and eventually grew beyond borders thanks to expats and tourists visiting France and bringing products back.
Promoting the “French Touch”
Now, the brand has its sights on the U.S., where its founder first found inspiration in the sector. “This is where, as a consumer, I discovered food complements and the use of nutrients as a long-term treatment,” founder Meriem Khali-Malone explains. “It is a very competitive market, but I know it well and I believe there is room for everybody.” To support Madame La Présidente’s ambitions both in the U.S. and Canada, the brand has turned to Bpifrance for financial backing.
“We will start by working on social media and then finding selling points,” says Khali-Malone. Promoting the “French Touch,” with its made-in-France formulas and products, can offer a nice boost to the brand, but she believes that the success will ultimately come from the quality of the products and the very specific hair issues they tackle. “We listen to our customers’ feedback, before and after launching a product. This new move will bring us even more feedback and might lead us to develop specific products for that segment. But we will never sacrifice quality over quantity,” Khali-Malone says.
Growing strong in Asia
Frédéric Levy explains that BIOCYTE instead has its roots in Asia, where it is growing market share. “Through our travels there, in Japan, we have discovered new ingredients that led to the development of new and very efficient formulas,” says Levy. “We imported the term and concept of nutricosmetics to France and Europe and since then, we never stopped innovating in that sector.”
Today, BIOCYTE is the first French brand to be sold on Chinese digital platforms, and is now breaking into other Asian markets. “We have been in China for 5 years, but we spent 9 years working on our image to open the doors of the Asian market,” he explains. “Today, we are also present in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Korea.”
Facing intense competition, French prestige is again a valuable asset, but the high standards of Asian consumers means that results will always matter more: “Our 15 years experience with dermatologists and aesthetics doctors enabled us to have a clear view about the possibilities and limits of how we can direct our products to an increasingly demanding and now young clientele.” Levy says the key to longevity is indeed mastering the science. “Gummies, for example, are more a trend than an innovation,” he explains, noting that the form of the product can only hold limited ingredients that offer the health benefits. The right formula to make it in the nutricosmetics world is also about finding the right balance between health research, innovation and the marketing of well-being.