The sales of organic products – from beef to produce to soap – have been growing by double-digit percentages every year for over a decade. Projections have that trend continuing globally at least until 2020. Which is why so many producers who don’t actually make organic products want to look like they do.
When asked by customers about using the word organic on their labeling, we’ve always had a fairly simple response. If you’re playing by the rules – as we do – there are all kinds of them. If you choose not to play by the rules, you can say anything you want.
Organic Sales Lead to Increased Scrutiny
That’s not true anymore. It might be in theory, and in certain situations, but in practice there’s more to worry about than simply running afoul of regulatory agencies, especially on labels and packaging. Until recently, the understanding had been that certification and marketing were different. Certification was exacting and specific. Marketing was seen perceptual and less restrictive. So, while you could never say certified organic unless you actually were, simply saying organic was generally acceptable, if not officially acceptable.
Since true soap can really only reach an 85-87% organic threshold, the idea was that using organic reflected the reality that the third level of organic certification (Made With Organic Ingredients) is as organic as soap can get.
Things Have Changed, Some Quite Recently
Organic sales have been accompanied by a growing vigilance towards ingredients. Just as national organic standards have placed an increased importance on packaging as the direct representation of products to the consumer, what’s said on labels is undergoing greater overall scrutiny. Consumers are looking for a reason to reject products and competitors are looking for an edge. Quite frequently, the easiest and most effective edge is gained by making a competitor look bad.
Trust in Your Ingredients
Here’s a way to highlight the organic nature of your soaps without causing undue attention. Let the slogans on your labels lead customers to your ingredients listing. They’re bound to do it anyway, given the attention ingredients get these days, so let your labeling encourage them. When you do, the last words customers read will be Certified Organic or Certified Organic Ingredient.
Make sure your listing indicates (using an asterisk) which ingredients are organic. Emphasizing organic on the ingredients panel avoids the risk of your marketing creating more suspicion than appeal. Whatever restrictions and subjectivity affect what’s acceptable on your main label, you can’t go wrong telling the absolute truth.