Beauty is about self-expression, says The Body Shop CEO

“Beauty is not about few important magnificence objects. Beauty is not a luxurious for choose few. Beauty is about self-expression,” says Shriti Malhotra, the chief government officer of The Body Shop India, which is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this 12 months.

Malhotra, who credit the model’s loyal prospects for the expansion, says the pandemic has modified the best way folks have a look at magnificence. Millennials and Gen Zers are the brand new drivers and exploring magnificence as by no means earlier than, she says.

We spoke to her about the model’s journey, how the pandemic pushed the corporate to pivot and what at present’s magnificence buyer desires. Edited excerpts:
Also learn | How a lot meals would you want in your skincare?

15 years… how does it really feel?
It’s very thrilling, to be trustworthy… to witness this sort of development. It is deep gratitude to all our prospects for having put their religion in us for thus a few years.

What do you suppose has saved the model rising so sturdy regardless of the growing competitors within the magnificence sector?
I believe it is the founding precept of enterprise as a drive for good and the dedication to be purpose-driven enterprise. Every choice is taken from this lens. We observe three key parts: Fight, which is a reminder that every one of us must be activists and drive change. As our founder Anita Roddick famously mentioned, “Activism is the hire we pay for dwelling on the planet.” Fair, which is about our eye firmly on social justice, doing the best factor for folks and actively supporting these much less privileged. And Beautiful World, which reiterates our dedication to the environment.

On the enterprise aspect, by the years, we now have been capable of achieve deep insights into shopper wants. Our retail enlargement, 200 extremely seen and accessible shops in addition to our on-line footprint has made our merchandise extremely reachable. A key motive for model relevance is our reasonably priced costs. Our product pricing begins from ₹200, a few of our hottest merchandise are priced under ₹500 for full dimension merchandise and never minis or small dimension merchandise. We even have our product and ingredient credibility firmly in place. We are and at all times have been cruelty-free in addition to 100% vegetarian. Over 60% of our merchandise at the moment are 100% vegan, together with all our new launches.

What was the pandemic’s influence on the model?
While full lockdowns naturally led to antagonistic impact on the companies, there was a large adverse influence seen on the emotional wellbeing of shoppers. In 2020, throughout the lockdown, we had been anticipating to witness a V-shaped restoration, however that was not the case.
However, the resilient shopper sentiment throughout the festive interval led to a 70-80% enterprise restoration. We have once more seen demand dipping within the wake of the second wave however we’re eager for a powerful bounce again for the remainder of the 12 months.
The pandemic has taught to rewrite all guidelines, to be agile and nimble. We are organising our upgraded digital retailer, with advance tech stack and buyer interface. We’ve added 5,000-plus pin codes and now delivering merchandise to a complete 30,000-plus pin codes throughout India. Our digital and social media channels have served on the forefront of buyer engagement with anytime, wherever procuring service for purchasers, through social commerce, WhatsApp procuring, assisted gross sales, residence supply, going past categorical supply to 2 hours’ supply, knowledgeable chats, dwell video consultations and so forth. We are enabling a number of assist instruments to assist customers make proper selections in absence of product contact and really feel expertise.

What does at present’s magnificence buyer actually need? Has the pandemic modified the shopper in any approach?
Social media, digital entry and content material has remodeled magnificence by heightened consciousness of components, trending merchandise, magnificence regimes, DIYs, new D2C manufacturers, progressive merchandise, digital procuring platforms, magnificence tech, synthetic intelligence, digital actuality and so forth. Simply mentioned, in the previous few years, magnificence trade has rotated on its head.
For youthful customers, we now have at all times seen a momentum in direction of investing in manufacturers which align to their values and beliefs. The pandemic has altered our lens as a society and for many people, the expertise of collective isolation and tragedy has sharpened our intent to provide again in no matter approach we are able to. Post pandemic, we’re seeing the speedy rise of younger ethically engaged customers who’re more and more involved about the setting, plastics air pollution, complete sustainability and raging social points like gender and inclusivity. We have additionally seen change in magnificence from a extra cosmetic-based strategy in direction of a wellness-based strategy round self-care, skincare, physique care, hygiene, safety and so forth. We are seeing a giant demand in our vitamin primarily based skincare merchandise like nutritional vitamins E and C ranges in addition to our anti-bacterial ranges like tea tree vary.

Lots of area of interest magnificence manufacturers have now come up providing custom-made options, even taking a look at minimal packaging to be extra eco-friendly. Do you suppose the pandemic has made the market extra aggressive?
There has positively been a whole lot of model traction round setting, waste, packaging and sustainability. This is a welcome change pushed by prospects demanding transparency about components, packaging and sustainability efforts. The magnificence market in India has at all times been aggressive and we’re actually seeing headwinds within the inexperienced and sustainable magnificence motion now.
Our focus is on utilizing fewer plastic supplies the place attainable; utilizing extra plant-based and recycled plastic (fairly than oil-based plastics) and serving to folks all over the world to reuse, repurpose and recycle.

Today, our PET plastic product packaging incorporates on common 25% recycled materials. By 2022, we goal to extend the quantity of recycled plastic materials to 75%. Currently, greater than 68% of our packaging could be recycled. By 2025, all our tub and physique and haircare merchandise will probably be absolutely recyclable. Our longer-term goal is to develop a round mannequin for our packaging, which suggests reusing or repurposing 100% of our product packaging.
Many established manufacturers at the moment are specializing in being extra environment-friendly. May I do know about your initiatives?
We are proud to be pioneers of honest commerce in magnificence with Community Fair Trade (CFT) being on the core of our enterprise since 1987. CFT is our bespoke honest commerce programme. It helps our suppliers achieve market entry and spend money on social and environmental initiatives that profit their communities and helps us supply moral, high-quality components and equipment from 1000’s of producers, farmers and artisans internationally. Our CFT programme is independently checked and verified by ECOCERT (natural certification group, based in France in 1991). Over 90% of our merchandise comprise at the very least one CFT ingredient.

While over 60% of our merchandise are vegan at present, The Body Shop will probably be 100% vegan by 2023 whereby all merchandise will carry the 100% vegan trademark. Our dedication to be 100% vegan with a certification from a prestigious associate like The Vegan Society, UK, is to take our explanation for environmental sustainability additional in a reputable method. In India, we now have additionally launched out Bring Back Our Bottles (BBOB) in-store recycling programme in 2019 and we encourage all our prospects to deliver again their plastic empties to their nearest The Body Shop retailer for recycling.
Do you imagine retail shops can have any relevance within the post-pandemic world?
The pandemic has pressured retailer closure and moved a big a part of customers on-line. There is little doubt that whereas on-line is right here to remain, retail shops will probably be positioned strongly be on the coronary heart of shopper procuring expertise for years to come back. Post pandemic, the necessity for human connection has emerged stronger than ever and customers are more likely to throng on the shops to partake the sensorial expertise, bodily interplay, engagement, contact & really feel the merchandise, browse, strive merchandise, search session. The actually experiential shops with companies, assisted gross sales, occasions and neighborhood would be the beacons for the long run. We are assured about the success of our retail shops and are on monitor to open 15 new shops in 2021.
Your largest studying from the pandemic?
The pandemic has been a roller-coaster experience with extreme challenges but it surely has additionally been a journey about survival and development. Most of us have spent this 12 months in various levels of isolation that underlined key revelations: our deep want for human connection, a eager consciousness of our personal privileges and the significance of serving to the much less privileged by giving again to native communities.
The pandemic additionally taught us to be aligned constantly with altering buyer’s wants and attain them wherever they’re. There have been many classes in our journey with The Body Shop this 12 months however the buyer voice has been key, listening to their wants, hopes and fears in addition to responding accordingly has been extra very important than ever.
What’s your imaginative and prescient for the model?
In these instances of nice social and environmental inequity, the world wants companies with goal that the power to deliver change. With extra younger prospects coming into the fold, there is a whole lot of consciousness about social good and environmental points. However, there is a bigger drive required to search out methods to contain folks past the shop, create a motion and better consciousness. Over the following few years, working in direction of bringing activism round waste administration, recycling, sustainability and communities will probably be a high precedence in step with our goal pushed mission to battle for a fairer and extra stunning world.
The largest problem you may have confronted in these 15 years?
The final one 12 months: Pandemic shut down, lack of close to and pricey ones and the well being and security of our groups was extraordinarily difficult.
With companies navigating many unexpected elements, hurdles and challenges, I might rephrase them as learnings and experiences for us to regulate, adapt, embrace change and put together for a brand new regular.

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