A Forge ARticle 

How and Why You Should be Thinking About Naturals


In the last 2 years we’ve barely worked on a project in retail or FMCG where the ‘naturals’ conversation wasn’t relevant.

But despite the volume of conversation ‘naturals’, continues to present brand owners with significant untapped potential across a huge variety of categories.

Why is there so much untapped potential? Part of the issue lies in the pervasive myth that, unless you are in an obviously relevant category such as skincare and / or you are a naturals Masterbrand, ‘naturals’ is not a conversation you can or should be a part of.

We fundamentally disagree with this.

Even if you feel like your brand is far removed from this conversation currently, there are elements of ‘naturals’ narratives that you can leverage without feeling like you are creating dissonance in your brand story.

Pepsi have done it. Adidas have done it. Lego have done it.

Lego plants are now made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane


We believe some of the reluctance to become part of the ‘naturals’ conversation comes from an assumption that the world divides neatly into natural and non-natural consumers; and as such, a large group of people do not want natural solutions.

We fundamentally disagree with this.

There is NO such thing as the non-natural consumer.

There are only people who embrace natural propositions to varying degrees. Some consumers will be wholehearted natural advocates across many different categories, while others will reject naturals in one category and embrace it in another. Others might be open to specific natural propositions but remain sceptical about their broader application.

When it comes to Naturals consumers sit on a spectrum


Another area of reluctance stems from the belief that naturals = green/ nature/ mother earth, and not much else. Again, we’d challenge this.

There are a multitude of different ‘naturals’ narratives that tap into different facets of this space and speak to different types of people in different ways.

Through our work across a variety of categories, conversations with a vast array of consumer types and engagement with brands that have very different starting point, we have been able to identify 5 fundamental spaces that help to make sense of the different ways to think about ‘naturals.’

Each of these spaces is accompanied by its own codes and themes which help us to meaningfully execute against them, but let’s start by taking a look at the overall spaces and some of the brands that play there.

When it comes to naturals there isn’t a single universal truth
WATCH: Forge Co-Founder Ben Glassock shares how to unlock the Naturals opportunity.



With people leading increasingly busy lives, being bombarded with too much information and struggling with sleep, this space offers the calm, clarity and simplicity that escaping to nature can offer. This is about the ‘cleanness’ of nature.

Brands operating in this space include: Finlandia, The Laundress and The Butchers Daughter.

The Butcher’s Daughter is a plant-based restaurant, cafe, juice bar and “vegetable slaughterhouse.”


We are becoming increasingly aware (and concerned by) our relationship with the planet, specifically what we take from it, how we source things and what we leave behind. This is a space concerned with striving for self and how we seek greater harmony with the earth. This is about being grateful and giving thanks.

Brands operating in this space include: Adidas, Cocomat and Origins.

Cocomat’s brand story talks about not just using natural materials but about bringing the positive energy of those materials to you to help you sleep.


As populations become increasingly urbanized, the rituals and myths associated with the past are capturing more of our attention; this is particularly true of brands that we find intriguing and seductive as a consequence of their apparent connection to darkness and magic. The power of the story telling ties us to these spaces.

Brands operating in this space include: Aesop, Ardbeg and Mugler.

Ardbeg focuses heavily on its roots on the Isle of Islay – a remote part of Scotland – and the magic and mysticism that is part of their heritage.


The more science understands the body, the more we acknowledge the link between body, brain and gut and the essential nature of the body’s eco-system. This is a space about harnessing science to help the body maintain its natural balance and tackle the toxins that modern life throws at us.

Brands operating in this space include: Zendium, The Body Holiday and MotherDirt.

MotherDirt working to restore bacterial harmony


This is about using science to replicate the best of nature, enabling nature to focus on supporting all who live on the planet (from plants to people) whilst removing the elements of nature that are not needed (reducing waste).

Brands operating in this space include: Impossible Foods, The Algenist, Apeel and H&M.

Impossible Foods make the seemingly impossible – including meatless burgers and chicken.

As we hope this piece has begun to demonstrate, ‘Naturals’ is actually relevant in all categories.

However the degree to which you ‘play’ is dependent upon the role efficacy plays in the category in question. Our learning has taught us that you need to move beyond natural ingredients to embrace a new point of view on naturals and natural products. Think about new ways to deliver efficacy through combinations, curated choices, distillation and essences.

Hopefully we have started to get you thinking about how you could make naturals work for you and your business. If you’d like to know more about how to make the most of the naturals opportunity and its ability to power growth, then get in touch.

Photo credits: Martin Reisch on Unsplash, Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash and brand websites.

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