It’s no secret that consumers have greater expectations for the environmental and ethical credentials of their purchases. In fact, over 50% of consumers are willing to reject unsustainable brands and pay more for sustainable products.
Despite this, there remains some reluctance among beauty and personal care brands to embrace ‘meaningful and effective greener strategies’ that go beyond launching greener product ranges to target climate challenges at the supply chain level. B2B personal care brands have an important role to play in driving sustainable action and delivering tangible change across their supply chains for a better tomorrow.
But like any business, personal care brands are first and foremost concerned with the profitability of operations, which isn’t always synonymous with sustainable practices. High level stakeholders often have little incentive to make impactful changes, leaving marketers with the thankless task of singing the praises of relatively minor sustainability improvements, treading the dangerous line of greenwashing, a tactic which can make brands famous for all the wrong reasons.
In the absence of industry-wide sustainability standards, heavyweights such as L’Oréal, Unilever, Henkel and Natura&Co are defining sustainable supply chain standards for themselves, and asking their suppliers for increasingly strict sustainability credentials. So, how can B2B personal care marketers align and anticipate the requirements of brands to help them communicate sustainability initiatives to a sceptical consumer audience?
In a marketplace clouded by false promises, over a third of people don’t trust companies to be honest about their environmental impact.  While sustainability matters, transparency matters even more—especially as younger buyers replace older ones in the marketplace. Customers seek brands that openly explain why they use or don’t use certain ingredients, or make or don’t make certain design choices.
As a supplier, be open about information on your climate risk assessment, your ambitions and actions, including your path to meeting sustainability goals. And with most purchasers doing their research online, this information needs to be front and centre on your website – not hidden in an annual report. Whether there are regulatory updates, changes across different functions or restructuring of the supply chain, ongoing communication is crucial to remaining transparent and building customer trust. And transparency works both ways – clear communication can also help build support and encourage action to coordinate more sustainable change internally.
Look inward and outward
Sustainable practice across the personal care industry is as much about eco-processes, renewable materials and protecting biodiversity as it is about responsible business behaviour. Conducting audits and self-assessments is critical to streamlining processes and ensuring ethical compliance across every aspect of a business.
Taking that one step further, businesses can draw on the results of their audits to develop unique programmes that address challenges across the value chain. For example, if there is an area of your supply chain that is an emissions risk, what measures can you implement on-the-ground to tackle this? Working with partners on both a global and grassroots level can help your initiatives make a meaningful difference and demonstrate greater proactivity before regulation catches up.
Inform the business strategy
Through their knowledge of the market and consumer trends, marketers have the insight and ability to strategically advise brands on how they can create profitability through sustainable actions and improve stakeholder buy-in. Considering audience sustainability attitudes will allow brands to target the needs and desires of the whole audience (not just the most eco-engaged), priority rankings within an audience, and consider how these attitudes change within different geographical markets.
By segmenting end-users’ nuanced, complex attitudes and beliefs around sustainability, businesses can capitalise on a deeper understanding of purchasing behaviours and preferences to more effectively market sustainability USPs and increase potential profitability within the market.
In summary, B2B marketers have a key role to play in effectively communicating how every element of a personal care supply chain works together to prioritize the future of the planet.
Want to improve how you communicate within the personal care market? We have the market knowledge and insights to help you see what’s happening across the industry, who your top competitors are and how you can define and amplify your sustainability messaging. Get in touch to learn more.