The Body Shop goes back to ethical roots

Global beauty brand launches ambitious new CSR commitment

The Body Shop, which turns 40 this year, has developed a planet-friendly plan to connect with a new generation of customers.

Founded by the late British environmentalist and businesswoman Anita Roddick, The Body Shop made its name by selling natural, ethically sourced products and opposing animal testing.

The company, which now has more than 3,000 stores worldwide, was sold to L’Oréal in 2006, and has struggled amid increased competition in recent years. According to Bloomberg, The Body Shop’s most recent quarter was its worst quarterly sales performance this decade, with sales falling 5.8%.

Now, The Body Shop is rolling out a new global corporate social responsibility strategy, with the lofty goal of becoming “the world’s most ethical and truly sustainable global business.”

The company’s “Enrich Not Exploit” framework includes 14 targets to be met by 2020, based on a commitment to “enrich our people, enrich our products and enrich our planet.” The targets include ensuring 100% of The Body Shop’s natural ingredients are traceable and sustainably sourced, powering all of its stores with renewable or carbon balanced energy, and doubling its Community Trade program (a form of fair trade) to 40 ingredients.

“Now more than ever, customers are looking for brands that do more than just sell products,” said Jayme Jenkins, vice-president, marketing & corporate responsibility, The Body Shop Canada. “Our founder Anita Roddick was really ahead of her time with The Body Shop. We’ve been around for 40 years as a business and it’s time that we go back to our roots in a big way.”

With the new CSR strategy, The Body Shop is aiming to broaden the brand’s appeal to the next generation of customers. “Today’s millennial generation doesn’t know the heritage of The Body Shop the way that some of us do. They didn’t grow up with the Save the Whales campaign or wearing white musk [from The Body Shop],” said Jenkins. “Although they don’t know this heritage, I think a lot of the interests are aligned. People are interested in brands that have a social impact, brands that are transparent and brands that do good.”

On the marketing front, the new commitments will largely be promoted in store. This summer, The Body Shop is launching a campaign called Bio-Bridge—a planting program in Vietnam that will help bridge two islands of jungle so monkeys can mate.

“Customers can get involved because for every purchase they make, we’ll plant one square metre of bio bridge forest,” said Jenkins. “Things like that will help us speak to the customer in a different way and not just talk necessarily about the products.”

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