Plant stem cells offer brands a natural way to speak about anti-ageing to younger consumers

Plant stem cells offer brands a natural way to speak about anti-ageing to younger consumers

Plant stem cells align well with consumers’ desire for natural anti-ageing ingredients

Natural’ remains a main purchase driver for personal care products. It relays confidence that the product is safe for use and has some environmentally-friendly credentials. The botanicals/herbals claim has been in either first or second place for global facial skincare launches during 2010-14.

Naturally sourced ingredients elicit a variety of functional benefits that maintain, protect and renew the skin. Plant stem cells (extracts) are part of the new natural actives library and are claimed to promote dermal (skin) stem cell health. The dermal stem cells have the ability to differentiate into fibroblasts that produce collagen and elastin proteins which are essential for skin elasticity and resilience.

Anti-aging claims are more common among global facial skincare products that contain plant stem cells. In contrast, the more universal claim of moisturising/hydrating sits atop the claims list for facial skincare launches as a whole.


 Top 10 claims for global launches of facial skincare products with ‘stem cells’ compared to skincare generally, 2014

Facial Skincare top 10 claims Facial skincare with ‘stem cells’*
Botanical/ Herbal Anti-aging
Moisturising/ Hydrating Botanical/ Herbal
Anti-aging Moisturising/ Hydrating
Time/ Speed Reduces Fine Lines/ Wrinkles
Brightening/ Illuminating Firming
Dermatologically Tested Time/ Speed
Cleansing Brightening/ Illuminating
Vitamin/ Mineral Fortified Antioxidant
Reduces Fine Lines/ Wrinkles Paraben Free
Antioxidant Collagen Increasing

Source: Mintel GNPD


The percentage of global facial skincare products containing stem cells has increased from 1% in 2010 to 3% in 2014. In 2014, South Korea and Japan represented 11% and 10%, respectively, of global facial skincare products with stem cells.  The natural anti-aging ingredient fits well with consumers in these countries as they have a strong appreciation of science-supported performance.


Botanical anti-aging ingredients have greater sway with younger consumers

Retinol (vitamin A) has been used for years as an anti-aging ingredient to improve facial tone and texture and to reduce and prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. With the growing attraction for natural messaging with botanicals in products, an age gap has formed between the traditional versus the new natural. For instance, consumers in France, Germany and Spain show an age-dependent purchase interest in products containing plant stem cells versus retinol.


France, Germany, Italy and Spain, interest in plant stem cells and retinol in facial skincare products, % by demographics, 2014

% skincare buyers All 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-54
Aware of & looks for plant stem cells (apple, grape, etc.) when purchasing facial skincare
France 22 29 21 19 21
Germany 18 20 14 19 16
Italy 26 28 26 26 28
Spain 20 25 18 17 22
Aware of & looks for retinol when purchasing facial skincare
France 22 9 15 24 28
Germany 17 9 13 16 23
Italy 41 25 40 43 50
Spain 34 19 27 34 48

Base: internet users aged 16+ buying facial skincare products in the last 12 months (France 1,234; Germany 1,398: Italy 1,384; Spain 1,290)


Global facial skincare products with plant stem cells

pic 1                pic 2             pic 3

HydraFirm Serum Peptide+ Anti-Wrinkle Serum Nutritious Cream
Dermaquest   MyChelle Dermaceuticals LG Household & Health Care


The Analyst’s View

Younger consumers, in particular, prefer plant stems cells to traditional ingredients like retinol, giving brands an opportunity to tailor their messaging for different age groups. Stem cell technology as a natural anti-aging ingredient has received a favorable reception in South Korea with an eager consumer base willing to explore new skincare innovations to help maintain a youthful appearance.

A variety of plant stem cell extracts have appeared in global facial skincare product launches in recent years, including apple, alpine rose, grape and argan. In 2014 new plant stem cell ingredients, such as jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides) and raspberry (Rubus idaeus), have increased in usage – each representing 5% of global facial skincare ‘stem cell’ product introductions.

The use of naturally sourced ingredients such as plant stem cells benefits manufacturers as it allows them to respond to consumers’ demands for both anti-ageing and natural products.


Diane Park will be speaking at in-cosmetics Korea (Seoul, 15 – 16 June) about “What’s next in beauty: Trends and innovation to watch” For more information about the presentation:

in-cosmetics Korea visitor registration is open until 10 June

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