The Body Shop Looks To Regain Its Sustainability Advantage

Since its launch in the 1970s, the Body Shop has been known for its commitment to sustainable beauty and high environmental standards. But at a moment when so many other brands are grabbing attention in that space, it's looking for new ways to reassert its green credentials -- especially with much younger consumers.

Hilary Lloyd, vice president of marketing and corporate social responsibility in North America, gives Retail Insider an update.

Retail Insider: How has your marketing strategy been changing?

Hilary Lloyd: We've been focused on re-establishing the Body Shop as a change-making beauty business. Other purpose-led beauty businesses have a lot of the same values as ours -- and they're gaining in popularity. So our primary objective has been to remind a wider consumer base that we are here.

We have always been here. We’re one of the originators of sustainable beauty. We’re investing in programs like our Refill initiative and introducing new products with exceptional natural ingredients, all ways of leaning deep into our sustainability credentials.

Retail Insider: What tactics are you using?

Lloyd: We're doing massive amounts of work through earned programming and partnerships with publishers and influencers. We are expanding our social credentials and reintroducing key credibility partners to our products.

We are focused on brand advocacy through digital media and performance media. And, of course, we've got our stores, where we continue to drive engagement.

Retail Insider: You've got an odd title. Not many companies combine marketing with CSR. What's that like?

Lloyd: It's an incredible opportunity, being that combo person. What's wonderful about the Body Shop is, activism and purpose work are synonymous with the brand, and we have that history. So marketing is a role focused on telling stories and fulfilling the brand's vision. That is invariably also a role whose job is supporting corporate social responsibility and activism.

Retail Insider: What's the target age of your customer? Does she know much about the brand's legacy?

Lloyd: Our customer is anywhere from 18 to 55. And we're focusing on that younger spectrum. So that means we can't be self-referential or take for granted that people know our history in this business. That history certainly builds credibility, but it is not commonly understood  -- especially among younger customers. So we have a heck of a lot of work to do to make sure we are understood, especially in this growing mix of competitors focused on the same values that we are. Our great advantage is that we have more experience in this space. So we need to take advantage of that.

Retail Insider: Earlier this year, you started introducing the Refill Program here in North America. How is that going?

Lloyd: We've got Refill Stations in 50% of our total U.S. stores now, and we're up to 80% of Canadian stores.

But this is a relaunch [of] something we did at the very first Body Shop in the late 1970s. Bringing it back is part of our journey to continue being a change-making beauty business.

Retail Insider: How does it work?

Lloyd: The pump stations have our customers' favorite bath, body and hair care products, up to 12 pumps per station. So any customer has the opportunity to refill up to 12 of their favorite bath body and hair care products, which we're thrilled about.

Retail Insider: You also recently banned ageist language.

Lloyd: Yes. We've launched a product line, formerly called Drops of Youth, which we've renamed Edelweiss. We want to take a pro-aging stance and not use negative beauty buzzwords.

Retail Insider: You also just expanded delivery with Uber Eats. How does that fit in?

Lloyd: The core motivation is centered around making sure we're facilitating a shopping experience for our customers that is of their design. In this semi-post-COVID era, their preference is for something a little more convenient. We've expanded it to most of our stores, and the orders are fulfilled in stores. We also have introduced click-and-collect programs, as well as ecommerce and stores. It's all about expanding the choices for customers to shop.

Retail Insider: Has store traffic changed from before the pandemic?

Lloyd: We're seeing quite a healthy rebound where traffic is concerned. We've had lots of new product launches recently. We're also retraining our staff consultants around skincare consultations, assisting customers with that additional personalized level of service.

Retail Insider: What are some of the new products?

Lloyd: One was reintroducing our spa line with a wellness line focused on wellbeing and mindfulness. One is designed around Boost, which is all about energy. Another is specifically designed to support sleep. And a new skincare line with lots of Vitamin C is focused on Glow.

Retail Insider: Industrywide, there's been a shift from skincare sales that boomed during the pandemic to cosmetics now that people have taken their masks off. Is that true for you, too?

Lloyd: Yes and no. We see rebounds with makeup and fragrance and subsequent rebounds with skincare. I think COVID inspired a sense of self-care. And we're seeing strong interest in hybrids, including our new Fresh Nude foundation. It's got 40 shades, three undertones, and it's made with aloe and vitamin E.

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