Sustainability was the key theme at this year’s Cosmoprof beauty conference in Bologna, which drew in over a quarter of a million visitors from around the world. Here’s a summary of what we learnt:
- We need to redefine what it means to be consumers, less and less will it be relevant to define people as those who consume for the sake of consuming. We’ll have to anticipate a world order where we’re buying fewer higher quality products with greater meaning and alignment with our values.
- “It’s not what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it,” in the words of Stefan Siemer, Head Corporate Sustainability at Weleda Group, superficial CSR won’t cut it anymore.
- Define your terms – natural, green and clean mean little to discerning consuming who are wary of greenwashing with unsubstantiated claims. Being clear on your definition can also bring differentiation and allow you to set your own benchmark for other brands to follow.
- Sustainability is a journey – it’s ok to show humility that you’re not yet perfect, transparency is the way to go.
- Recycled, not recyclable – it’s about leaving a positive impact, not simply not doing further damage to the planet (beyond that, is your recycled packaging also recyclable?).
- It’s an equal responsibility between consumers and brands – both need to encourage each other, consumers need to be willing to compromise on cost, packaging or efficacy in the meantime.
- Make a commitment and stick to it – this is how brands will demonstrate that they take their responsibility seriously.
- The opportunity for disruption is significant – this is how we will overcome barriers and achieve products that tick all the boxes of price, convenience, efficacy and beauty.
- Gen Z are the biggest proponent – but they have contradictory demands of having the newest and latest, while wanting to consumer more consciously. It’s up to brands to keep them engaged and excited while focusing on fewer better products.
- Contextualise the good brought on from consumer choices – so that consumers understand the impact that they can have e.g. rather than saying you’ve saved x litres of water by making this choice, frame it as y seconds under the shower.
These learnings are universal across categories, we are excited to see who the visionaries and pioneers are that make the first moves!