Why 'hip herbals' are a hot business trend

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 20 2014 09:11 AM | Updated as of Apr 21 2014 01:43 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Who would have thought hip could be used to describe herbal products?

Trendwatching.com cited "hip herbals" as a rising business trend in Asia.

In its March report, Trendwatching.com many Asians are becoming increasingly aware of toxic environments and exposed to stressful situations.

This has led to a "rediscovery (and 2014 reimagining) of traditional herbal products and practices to promote health, wellness and balance."

So what's driving this "hip herbals" trend? Trendwatching cites three factors: tradition reimagined; cultural confidence; and fear factor.

Many Asians are becoming more aware of their heritage, so they are bringing it into their contemporary lifestyle. "They are embracing tradition-inspired products that help them restore balance and keep up the pace," Trendwatching said.

Asian affluence is also boosting cultural confidence. "Many Asian consumers are looking to local and heritage-inspired consumerism that eschews the wholesale import of foreign ideals, about which they're increasingly skeptical," Trendwatching said.

With recent scandals involving environmental and food-borne toxins, many Asian consumers are now carefully thinking about what they consume. Consumers are looking for natural and traditional health and wellness products.

Throughout Asia, there is a growing number of companies using natural and herbal ingredients.

Trendwatching.com cited some examples from China, South Korea and Thailand.

In China, Herborist uses traditional herbal ingredients for its skincare products aimed at urban Chinese consumer.

South Korean luxury brand Sulwhasoo has found success with its products that make use of indigenous medicinal herbs using Korean menthods. One of its most popular products is the Timetreasure Renovating Cream, which uses red pine, and retails for $400.

In Thailand, Coca-Cola launched Habu, its first herbal drink. The soda is infused with traditional herbs such as roselle, licorice, luo han, guo and cogon grass.

Philippine entrepreneurs go green

In the Philippines, there are a growing number of entrepreneurs coming up with natural and organic products, from food and juices to lotions and body scrubs.

For instance, ECHOstore is a sustainable lifestyle store offering natural and organic food, cosmetics and even fresh produce.

One of the brands sold at ECHOstore is Human Nature which offers beauty and personal care products that are natural, Philippine-grown and chemical-free.

Another local brand is OrySpa, whose personal care products are primarily made of rice bran oil.

Also, a local spa chain MontAlbo capitalized on the traditional Filipino massage "hilot" and placed it in a spa setting.

Trendwatching.com offers some advice for brands who want to take advantage of this trend.

"Brands seeking to tap into the hip herbals trend must keep in mind a paradox increasingly typical of Asian consumerism: rising interest and engamenet in tradition on one hand and an ongoing desire to cram more into contemporary lifestyles on the other," Trendwatching said.

It added that brands should also consider that consumers would want to know about how the products were made and where the ingredients were sourced.

Also, brands should also consider that emphasizing "tradition" does not mean consumers will have lower expectations on packaging and customer experience.