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Mintel Report: Consumer demands pave way for sustainable beauty offerings

BY Gisselle Gaitan

A growing trend within any space — whether it be food, fashion or beauty — is transparency. Shoppers increasingly are asking for complete transparency from their favorite brands when it comes to knowing not just what’s inside their products, but what they’re packaged in and what happens to the waste when all is said and done.

This trend is the focus of “Sub-Zero Waste,” Mintel’s 2019 global beauty and personal care trend report, which said that as waste reduction becomes more evident in day-to-day lives, shoppers soon will take a close look at their beauty routines and their environmental impact.

“Consumers expect brands to take responsibility for their waste, and will be attracted to manufacturers, companies and brands that not only do so, but also facilitate waste reduction processes for consumers,” the study said.

Currently, 54% of U.K. beauty and personal care shoppers are researching their products online before putting them into their shopping carts, and 54% of potential Brazilian buyers of green and ethical products admit to choosing sustainable and environmentally friendly items because they don’t like to pollute.

“As a spotlight is currently being shone on the fast-fashion industry, there is a movement towards circularity — allowing products/materials to be recovered, regenerated and reused, rather than disposed of,” the report said. “[Beauty and personal care] brands should be inspired by this, but must ensure the processes used to create resellable, reusable or repurposed products won’t end up being more toxic for the environment in the long-term.”

Efforts from brands — both established and emerging — recently have highlighted the fact that manufacturers are paying attention to what consumers want, launching recycling programs and offering more sustainable packaging options. Among them has been Procter & Gamble’s Herbal Essences, which created recyclable shampoo and conditioner bottles for three products in its bio:renew collection that are made of 25% beach plastic, and will be hitting shelves for a limited time. Garnier also is jumping on this ship by also joining forces with TerraCycle and DoSomething.org to highlight the importance of beauty recycling.

TerraCycle’s forthcoming pilot called Loop, which focuses on reusable CPG packaging, will include durable packaging for Unilever’s Dove, Axe and Degree deodorants, as well as P&G’s Pantene hair care brand. P&G’s Oral-B brand, as part of Loop, will be testing circular solutions for its electric and rechargeable toothbrushes, as well as the Oral-B Click manual toothbrush, which features a durable handle and an exchangeable head.

Additionally, Unilever and L’Oréal have pledged to use 100% recyclable, reusable and compostable plastic by the year 2025, and Avon said it already has achieved 95% of its goal to send zero waste to landfills.

The study said that, even as larger name brands delve into this new territory, such emerging brands as Ethique, Lamazuna, Loli Beauty and Seed Phytonutrients that have built their businesses on environmental policies put them slightly ahead of the curve.

“The companies that put current profits ahead of investment in zero-waste solutions will lose out in the long-term,” the report said. “Indie brands already have an edge, as they have built their business practices around ethics. High-profit [beauty and personal care] brands that aren’t investing in this area are already condemning themselves.”

As waste reduction comes into focus, another trend increasingly being employed is upcycling. Mintel highlights e-retailer Glambot, which offers consumers a space to buy and sell used beauty products. The company verifies and sterilizes products before reselling them, which allows consumers to no longer feel guilt over causing waste from something they no longer want, the study said. 

Pacifica has joined the movement by upcycling empty bottles into other products, including toothbrushes and razors through its Preserve Recycle Me program, the study said. It also, along with Gillette, is partnering with TerraCycle on a nationwide take-back program that is part of the brand’s parent company’s, Procter & Gamble, step towards a long-term vision of using 100% renewable and recycled materials in its products and packaging, according to P&G hair care executives.

Upcycling is a space that truly hasn’t been fully embraced by the larger name brands, but it also is slowly offering them a space to take advantage of, Mintel said. For example, brands that offer consumers refills on their products could begin to implement solutions on how to reduce waste on returns and allow shoppers to explore refurbished cosmetics in returned packaging at a reduced cost to help meet sustainability goals.

“Beauty and personal care brands that offer refills need to maintain post-sale contact with customers and provide information about how their new solutions are reducing waste,” the report said. “Implementing a returns scheme, allowing customers to return packaging they do not wish to refill, and exploring refurbished cosmetics in returned packaging at a reduced cost can ensure sustainability goals are met.”

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