Features

A Green Makeover for Personal Care?

By Marc Stoiber, Maddock Douglas | March 31, 2010

Sustainability is not always a thing of beauty. In January, Maddock Douglas released a study that tracked the actual versus the perceived sustainability of more than 90 leading U.S. corporations. The results were eye-opening, to say the least.

In the Maddock Douglas study, there were entire sectors, such as electronics, that consistently led the way, and others, like airlines, which consistently lagged. But the big surprise was the number of corporations that are engaged in sustainability without receiving consumer reward for it.

Personal care product companies fell into this category. Avon, for example, scored 51 on actual and 34 on perceived. And L’Oréal scored 67 on actual, and only 37 on perceived (see chart next page)!

This is interesting because companies with lines in personal care, as well as household, such as Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive, scored significantly higher in perception—despite having virtually the same “actual” scores as the personal care product companies.

Climate Counts is an established non-profit that yearly measures hundreds of leading companies in the area of climate action—Do they acknowledge they have a climate impact? Do they measure their impact? Do they declare their intentions for lowering their impact? And finally, are they taking action? Maddock Douglas partnered with Climate Counts to track the actual scores of 97 companies in 10 sectors.
 

Angus Reid Public Opinion is a leading consumer research company. Maddock Douglas partnered with Angus Reid to do an online poll of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers to capture the “perceived” scores. The consumers were asked to rate the companies provided by Climate Counts on their “leadership in the area of climate change.” Margin of error was +/- 2.2%. Results were statistically weighted to ensure a truly random sample.

Once we had all the “actual” and “perceived” scores, we plotted out the companies on “actual/perceived” graphs, to provide a graphic representation.

What Consumers Understand


Creating a green consumer brand entails implementing green that consumers can understand, appreciate and reward. Does acquiring a green brand help? Colgate-Palmolive’s acquisition of Tom’s of Maine may have created an aura of green in which the master brand could bask. The same could be said for Clorox’s purchase of Burt’s Bees or Kellogg’s purchase of Kashi.

What about creating a green brand from the ground up? Clorox created Green Works two years ago, and today has more than 40% of the natural cleaner market. Aveda was founded on environmental and health principles, and enjoys an incredible consumer perception as a forward-thinking green company.

The key to Aveda’s success, however, is in positioning. There are hundreds of green personal care brands in the market. Aveda stands apart because of its decidedly forward-looking, innovative stance. New ideas for packaging and formulation are wedded with sleek windmills and cool, clean European imagery. The brand stands for performance and innovation first, and green second.

Hospitality Industry Lessons


This brings us to an interesting parallel with another industry. The hotel category, like personal care, is struggling with green. Although most major hotels are engaged in green activities, they are not reaping the rewards from consumers. Could this be because consumers believe green in hotels equates with frugality? It’s well documented that consumers use approximately twice as much energy at a hotel than they do at home. This points to their need to pamper themselves and take a break from their environmental concerns.

The same could be said for the personal care industry. Consumers are loath to abandon shampoos with thick suds, because they equate suds with efficacy and luxury—not sodium laureth sulfate agents.

Could the innovation here be in repositioning green not as a sacrifice, but as a step forward? Could eco-conscious celebrities be used to tout green personal care, as they have eco-tourist destinations?

Innovation Opportunities


Companies such as Clorox are living proof that there is tremendous room for profitable innovation. But where’s the lowest-hanging fruit?

Education: Personal care is chemistry. Helping consumers understand which ingredients are considered good, and which are considered bad is just the beginning. Which personal care company will revolutionize this process? And which companies will create simple education tools to provide consumers information on packaging, energy and resource use? If personal care companies don’t do it, Walmart’s consumer sustainability index will!

Feedback: One of the hottest trends in personal care and household cleaning is Do-It-Yourself formulation. That is, blending ingredients yourself, and using essential oils for fragrance. Could personal care companies provide open feedback forums for consumers to find a territory between store-bought and home blended? Could a whole new semi-home-crafted industry spring up?

Drugstore: Like eco-tourism, green personal care is still relatively elitist. There is a huge opportunity for the company that produces green personal care products at a drugstore price.

Look beyond formulation: Aveda has scored huge points for innovative, sustainability-focused packaging; i.e., reusable lipstick tubes, 100% post-consumer waste packs, waste wood chip resin plastics. Which personal care product company will take this to the next level, introducing new ways of refilling, recycling and reusing?

A Clarion Call


Consumers have indicated that they will buy green, if the product is comparable in price and quality to non-green products. It’s a simple equation, with tremendous upside for profitable innovation. It’s time to bring the chemists together with the marketers, and create products that deliver on both personal and planet care.

About the Author
Marc Stoiber is vice president Green Innovation at Maddock Douglas. He helps clients apply a green lens to their innovation projects. Maddock Douglas is a leading innovation agency, delivering new products, servibusiness models from mind to market. More info: Marc Stoiber,604-738-8080; Website: www.maddockdouglas.com
blog comments powered by Disqus
  • Kitchen Counter Cosmetics

    Kitchen Counter Cosmetics

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||May 2, 2016
    LOLI box marks the convergence of natural and organic ingredients, subscription service and DIY cosmetic chemistry.

  • What’s New at La Prairie?

    What’s New at La Prairie?

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||April 25, 2016
    VP of marketing shares the latest buzz with Happi.

  • Mapping Out Multicultural Beauty

    Mapping Out Multicultural Beauty

    April 25, 2016
    Agnieszka Saintemarie of Kline Group about current trends and challenges in multicultural beauty.

  • Bite Now

    Bite Now

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||May 2, 2016
    Is the time finally right for beauty-from-within to move into the mainstream?

  • Boxed Out?

    Boxed Out?

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||May 2, 2016
    Salon sales outpace mass-market results in the highly competitive, highly fashionable and yes, highly-colorful hair color cat

  • That’s Awesome!

    That’s Awesome!

    May 2, 2016
    Extracts & Ingredients highlights the newest ideas in efficacious oils for the personal care market.

  • Wacker Builds on Its Success

    Wacker Builds on Its Success

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director ||May 2, 2016
    The silicone maker had a good 2015 and expects the gains to continue in 2016, driven, in part, by success in the Americas and

  • I Want It All

    I Want It All

    Melissa Meisel , Associate Editor||May 2, 2016
    Skin care moves beyond the basics with pampering formulations with unique components and novel functions.

  • Erasing the Signs of Aging

    Pauline Rouaud-Tinguely, David Boudier, Sylvain Mazalrey, Jenny Laumonier, Isabelle Cruz, Gu00e9raldine Bon, Karine Perrinet, Bu00e9ranger Tassy, Brigitte Closs, Silab R&D, Saint-Viance, France||May 2, 2016
    Silab researchers explain how by acting on the endogenous hyaluronic acid pathway.

  • The Zika Threat

    The Zika Threat

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||April 1, 2016
    Concerns are spreading about transmission of this mosquito-borne disease.

  • The New Spot For Acne Care

    The New Spot For Acne Care

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||April 1, 2016
    Acne Treatment Research Center opens in Morristown, NJ.

  • The Essence of Individuality

    The Essence of Individuality

    Melissa Meisel , Associate Editor||April 1, 2016
    Fragrance sales are fueled by unique facets.

  • The Scalp Microbiome

    The Scalp Microbiome

    Nava Dayan PhD, Dr. Nava Dayan LLC||April 1, 2016
    A review of recent findings and innovative approaches for treating scalp disorders.

  • Multi-Cultural Beauty Update

    Multi-Cultural Beauty Update

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||April 1, 2016
    Established brands and start-ups address the needs of multi-cultural beauty consumers.

  • Who Makes That?

    Who Makes That?

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||April 1, 2016
    From concept and formulation to testing and filling, today’s contract manufacturers perform a range of services for marketers

  • Inspiring the Next Generation Of Personal Care Products

    Inspiring the Next Generation Of Personal Care Products

    March 1, 2016
    In-Cosmetics 2016 returns to Paris next month, April 12-14, 2016.

  • Playing Doctor

    Playing Doctor

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||March 1, 2016
    The OTC aisle offers a wide array of no-prescription-needed treatments.

  • Shielding Skin from Airborne Antagonists

    Shielding Skin from Airborne Antagonists

    Shyam Gupta, Ph.D., John Stanek and Melinda Wochner, Bioderm Research and CoValence Laboratories, Inc.||March 1, 2016
    The enemy, it seems, is all around us. Researchers explain how to alleviate damage caused by a variety of villains.

  • Makeup Magic

    Makeup Magic

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||March 1, 2016
    Sales get a lift from novel ingredients and endorsements from the likes of Gwen Stefani.

  • Feel the Burn?

    Feel the Burn?

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2016
    Sun care product sales rise, but more must be done to make sure compliance rates grow.

  • New Sun Care Ingredients

    March 1, 2016
    Here is a list of new ingredients for sun care that have been introduced by industry suppliers during the past 12 months. For information regarding any of the products listed here, contact the supplier directly using the information provided.

  • Cleaning Up

    Cleaning Up

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||March 1, 2016
    At the American Cleaning Institute’s 90th Annual Meeting & Industry Convention attendees work on regulatory issues and hammer out business deals.

  • Supply-Side Solutions

    Supply-Side Solutions

    Tom Branna , Editorial Director||March 1, 2016
    Executives from leading detergent industry suppliers sat down with Happi during the recent annual meeting of the American Cleaning Institute to discuss the problems, products and answers that are transforming the cleaning space.

  • Cleaning Industry Heads to Singapore

    Cleaning Industry Heads to Singapore

    March 1, 2016
    The World Conference on Fabric and Home Care, sponsored by the American Oil Chemists Society, will be held Oct. 4-7 in Singapore.

  • Electric Slide

    Electric Slide

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||February 3, 2016
    Skin care devices bring anti-aging to the next level

  • Crowning Glory

    Crowning Glory

    Christine Esposito , Associate Editor||February 3, 2016
    Celebrity stylists and experts from leading hair care brands talk about the ingredients and formats driving the styling sector.

  • Innovation On Display

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||February 3, 2016
    P&G Beauty Digital Studio showcases new products for 2016

  • Testing for Sustainable Preservatives

    Adam P. Byrne, William Michael Hart-Cooper, Kaj Johnson, Larry H. Stanker, Dominic W. S. Wong, William J. Orts||January 4, 2016
    A rapid, inexpensive and qualitative protocol for determining microbial growth inhibition.