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Sustainability Drives Game Changing Innovation in Beauty

By: Rob Walker, Euromonitor International
Posted: April 4, 2012, from the April 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • Recent innovations have brought sustainable packaging full throttle into the competitive mainstream of beauty, with the potential to strengthen a brand’s environmental position.
  • Certified natural products from major global brands are evidence that the eco-category is no longer the exclusive terrain of niche players.
  • The green integrity of consumers is often shallow, and consumers look to flex their green ambitions without any quality downside.
  • Alternative materials for plastic bottles—sugarcane, for example—will grow in profile, and it is also predicted that there will be a shift toward cardboard packaging for personal care products.

Naturally sourced ingredients have become increasingly visible in the portfolio mix of leading beauty brands as issues of sustainability and social responsibility drive a new era of competitive differentiation. But, eco-friendly packaging could be the industry’s most significant green innovation to date.

Learning From the Bottled Water Crisis

Four years ago, the bottled water industry slipped into crisis in the U.S. and Western Europe when it became the target of widespread environmental campaigning over its use of throwaway plastic bottles. The issue developed momentum because consumers, both in restaurants and at home, had an easy and legitimate green alternative—tap water in a glass.

Bottled water had become a powerhouse of growth, its profitability making it the target of substantial new investment from the likes of Coca-Cola, Danone and Nestlé. Yet, almost overnight, the category developed a pariah status among eco-conscious consumers, pushing sustainable packaging right to the top of the innovation agenda in soft drinks.

It was a warning shot for other fast-moving consumer goods that the use of throwaway plastic bottles could become defamatory in the increasingly eco-conscious consumer culture of Western markets. The development of greener packaging alternatives was, therefore, not only a big challenge for the soft drinks industry, but for all fast-moving consumer goods.

Sugarcane Plastic Bottles Herald New Era of Eco-packaging Innovation