CSR and sustainability key to improving company image in cosmetics

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Corporate social responsibility Sustainable cosmetics summit Marketing

Cosmetics firms’ communications often stress ethical and social responsibility credentials, but these words need to be matched by actions according to New Ethics Institute founder Rainer Plum.

Plum, who also set up Tautropfen, discussed the issue in a presentation at Organic Monitor’s Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Paris this week, highlighting the growing importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the industry.

His central argument is that with the current focus on sustainability in the personal care industry “CSR will aid an organisation’s mission as well as a guide to what the company stands for and will uphold to its consumers.”

‘Greenwashing’ becoming too frequent

“Ideally, CSR policy would function as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby business would monitor and ensure its support to law, ethical standards, and international norms,” ​explained Plum.

However, he highlighted concerns that some companies approach to the sustainability trend is to engage in ‘greenwashing’ were marketing campaigns focus on the firm in questions environmentally friendly credentials.

However, Plum suggests, such efforts are only effective if the company presents the complete truth and if the projects behind the stories are completely compatible with the company’s corporate identity and mission.

He cautioned that while brands love to tell ‘wonderful’ stories, if they do not follow their principles and are unable to back them up then they will not be trusted.

“The impact of the social or sustainability projects have to fulfill ethical principals and solve moral or ethical problems that can arise in a business environment,”​ he explained.

Consumer and ingredient trends

Organic Monitor identify growing consumer concern about chemicals in personal care products and a general rise in ethical consumerism as key consumer trends that have developed the market.

Meanwhile the replacement of synthetic chemicals, and certified organic ingredients have been identified by the market research company as ingredient trends which will mould the future of the natural beauty industry.

Plum identified the terms ‘sustainable’, ‘organic’ and ‘fair-trade’ as key brandings for products in the natural market.

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