Snail gel, insect protein, and traditional Ayurvedic treatments are at the forefront of a clear rise in consumer demand for the wild and wonderful. Particularly when it comes to anti-ageing and beauty, an industry now worth in excess of $1 trillion.
Dr Organic, who package and market snail secretion for youthful skin, rose from a single line to a six product portfolio in three years; supported by consumer interest in innovative and wild wellbeing.
According to global researcher Mintel, individual consumers in the UK alone are predicted to spend an average of £342.90 on health and beauty products this year, which sees Dr Organic penetrating a lucrative market.
Celebrity endorsements have helped boost sales for Dr Organic Snail Gel, which rose by 700 percent in 4 weeks alone after its health benefits were backed by key celebrity influencers. With ‘softened wrinkles, smoother skin, antioxidant protection and improved hydration’ amongst the touted benefits, the question remains as to whether consumers are buying into scientific evidence, ancient wisdom, or celebrity endorsement?
Nightingale poo facials made popular by the likes of Victoria Beckham and friends are being tried and tested by high-end spa customers from New York to London alike. So, aside from the backing from famous faces, why are consumers lapping up these unconventional products?
Wellness expert, Abigail James, argues that many consumers are plumping for animal-based treatments because of their natural properties. Let down by false claims of organic and free-from animal testing, James suggests that: “Even though they might sound disgusting, the benefit of products using ingredients such as snail slime and bird poo are that they are natural.”
According to James, the sought after ingredients have their roots in ancient cultures. “Snail gel and bird poo have both been used for centuries – well before our modern day skincare ingredients, so essentially their popularity could be viewed as consumers going back to nature and to our beauty roots.”
In a market under pressure to deliver new and effective products that can compete with surgical advancements, Psychologist Elaine Slater argues that the anti-ageing ingredients found in some of the more ‘unusual’ treatments or products on the market offer a non-invasive alternative to cosmetic surgical procedures.
“People in every civilisation have used substances to embellish and protect their skin and in a competitive and stressful world that demands we radiate vitality, energy and good health, beauty products are increasingly performing a social role. Women are under immense societal pressure to diminish signs of ageing and a youthful look is coveted in the western world,” says Slater.
This pressure doesn’t alter just because the consumer is concerned with the way in which products are manufactured or the chemicals that they may contain, so items that use natural ingredients have found a strong place in the market.
It’s not just the beauty sector that has seen natural and alternative animal-derived products peak consumer interest. The food industry is witnessing the rise as well.
GRUB, which sells edible insect products, launched after its owners found success with their pop-up restaurants. The restaurants, serving dishes that used insects as the main source of protein, highlighted the intrigue from consumers who were coming to buy insects to cook with and eat as snacks.
Now stocked in health food shops and online in the UK, GRUB products have been positively received, with taste being the most important factor, followed by nutritional value and then sustainability.
“Our online sales have been fantastic, growing pretty much month on month. We are now selling in Planet Organic and are in talks with some other big health food retailers. The demand has been sufficient enough for Grub to feel confident in starting the UK’s first cricket farm,” said co-founder Shami Radia.
Far from being just a trend, Abigail James suggest that: “These type of ingredients always attract a lot of media interest for being wacky, but they have been around for centuries with scientific evidence to back-up their benefits. If they’ve survived the past 400 centuries, it is likely they will stick around for a lot longer and some other historically relevant ingredients will come to attention along the way.”