Bad news burns advertising dollars - Proactive sustainability programs are key

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

Suppliers must align themselves with brands' sustainability programs
Sustainability is not a new topic to our industry, but it has seen a big development from a consumer perspective over the last few years and while this concerns cosmetics manufacturers and brands, ingredient suppliers also need to pay attention and align themselves with these programs.

Most of the big players all have a sustainability program nowadays, and this proves that the issue needs to be taken seriously, but also approached in the right way.

For ingredient suppliers this means having a program and clear targets too, but they should be aligned with their customers, the manufacturers, and proactively contribute to their sustainability programs.

This is the view of Chris Sayner, vice president, Global Accounts, at Croda, which is one such company making sure it is aligned with its customers.

“Consumers are asking to know more about the products they buy and this means that the majority of consumer facing businesses have sustainability programs,”​ he tells CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com. “This means ingredient suppliers need to be aligned with these programs and proactively contribute.”

“If a consumer company is dealing with an ingredients supplier with a sustainability program, it helps customers mitigate against risk – it is an ‘insurance policy’ if you like.”

Bad news ‘burns advertising dollars’

The need to focus on sustainability now more than ever for cosmetics companies is because as consumers want to know more, they share more information, and with the internet, social media and apps, news, and particularly bad news, travels fast.

This means companies need to connect with consumers in the right way and nurture these connections.

“Increasingly consumers want to know what is contained in their chosen brands, where do the ingredients come from, are they tested on animals, cruelty free, renewable, not contributing to deforestation, loss of biodiversity? They have Apps to help them!”​ says Sayner.

“Social media, NGOs and blogs ensure that bad news travels fast and globally, we live in a completely different time compared to pre-internet. Damage to Brand equity via social media can burn advertising Dollars.”

All of this brings Sustainability right to the forefront of Consumer Businesses, according to Chris; but this is a good thing as it contributes to a more conservative, risk averse approach and drives good behaviour, creative thinking and very strong programs in some major consumer companies.

It also means sustainability has become a KPI against which many major consumer companies now measure suppliers in addition to: service, quality, cost and innovation.

“It has brought another dimension to the customer/supplier relationship, far from adversarial, sustainability is neutral territory with shared, common goals,”​ adds Sayner.

Setting an example

Chris’ company, Croda, like many ingredient suppliers, has worked hard on its sustainability program to make sure it clearly defines targets and architecture around its reporting which complements that of many of its customers.

“This is vitally important in order to fully engage with consumer companies and understand what is driving their programs,”​ he continues.

“When major consumer companies look at suppliers, all they want to talk about is how we can play our part in improving the environmental profile and efficacy of their products and formulations with our materials.”

In 2010, Croda set a target to achieve 25% of its worldwide energy from non -fossil fuels by 2015; a target it met almost two years ahead of schedule achieving 25.5% in 2014.

Across all its sites, use of non-fossil and renewable energy in 2014 has eliminated 40,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions which is equivalent to taking 24,328 cars of the road.

Over the past five years, Croda has eliminated 128,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of powering over 24,000 homes.

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