Video interview: Jayn Sterland

Natural beauty: The shock of the not new

The beauty industry is in a state of perpetual reinvention, the need for constant innovation and ‘newness’ unquestioned. To some extent that’s true for the natural and organic beauty sector too.

But just how sustainable is that relentless quest for the new? Not very, according to Jayn Sterland, MD at Weleda UK.

In a special video interview, Sterland, a participant at last week’s Natural Beauty Roundtable, says: “A really well established beauty brand will only grow their business, in the main, through adding newness. So a lot of the really mature brands will spend all of their time, energy and effort, and their main marketing effort, talking about the ‘new new’.

“How is that sustainable? Why aren’t we looking at last year, or even ten years ago, or 20 ­– and getting it right first time. I work for a company that rarely innovates, and when we do innovate it might take us 10 years to have a product that we know works. So, working to trends isn’t how we work.”

Sterland acknowledges that “what retailers want is something new and exciting every day, to get shoppers to come through the door, or go online.”But she says it creates an “imbalance” that natural beauty brands need to reconcile. “The critical thing,” she says, “ is to make a product relevant today, even if – like Weleda’s Skin Food – it’s 90 years old”.

“Organic and natural is just about the purity of an ingredient, it’s nothing to do with the whole process of the business”

Elsewhere, Sterland calls on the natural beauty sector to speak with a unified voice and pull behind a single certifying body. And she says that the wider natural beauty debate “needs to elevate itself away from the natural versus organic question, and instead be asking how sustainable is what we’re doing?” She adds: “Organic and natural is just about the purity of an ingredient, it’s nothing to do with the whole process of the business.”

Sterland also argues that natural and organic beauty brands should work harder to appeal to mainstream consumers “because the more mainstream we can make sustainability, organic and natural the more good will come of it.”