Complete transparency and clean beauty, consumers set new standards for brands
L’Oréal Group has announced that it has set a target, where, in 10 years, 95 per cent of all its ingredients will be derived from renewable plant sources
Consumers today are increasingly calling for eco-friendly and natural products, as well as complete transparency from beauty and skincare brands, experts highlighted at the recent L’Oréal Transparency Summit.
Speaking at the virtual event, Nicolas Hieronimus, deputy CEO of L’Oréal Group, observed that in an increasingly ‘uncertain world’, consumer demands are ever evolving, and that the consumers of today demand complete transparency about the products they are using, their ingredients, and the process used to manufacture the products.
“First, the Covid-19 crisis has increased many preexisting concerns for consumers; health is everybody’s number one priority and sustainability is more than ever an imperative,” he said. “Consumers want products that are good for them and for the planet. Science and tech are more than ever seen as the solution to most of the world’s issues. Consumers expect full transparency from brands and companies. They are exposed to many sources of information regarding the ingredients and formulas of beauty products.”
In many cases, he said that the information available to consumers might be incomplete, biased, or inaccurate because it is not backed up by science. “We want to reassure them [consumers] by being fully transparent and scientifically accurate. Every year, we sell between six and seven billion products to around 1.2 billion consumers worldwide. As a leader, it is our role to allow consumers to make educated choices.”
L’Oréal Group has strengthened its commitment to consumers through its ‘Green Sciences’ approach, which will focus on cultivating natural ingredients in a sustainable way. As of 2020, 80 per cent of L’Oréal Group’s raw materials are easily biodegradable, while 59 per cent are renewable or plant-based, 34 per cent are natural or natural-origin, and 28 per cent were developed using Green Chemistry principles. L’Oréal Group has also announced that it has set a target, where, in 10 years, 95 per cent of all ingredients will be derived from renewable plant sources and abundant materials, and that 100 per cent of all product formulas will be respectful to the aquatic environment by 2030.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has given us an opportunity to stand up and be vocal about our values,” added Hieronimus. “The journey has already begun, and our goal now is to reshape the beauty industry by leveraging the best of science and technology, increasingly inspired by nature, to create the beauty that moves the world.”
L’Oréal’s Research & Innovation division currently employs approximately 4,000 scientists from 60 nationalities working across nearly 50 disciplines. They are located in 21 research centres around the world to help advance the company’s sustainable mission. In 2020, the L’Oréal Group invested 3.4 per cent of its total sales, worth $1,160 million, towards research.
Beauty backed by science
“Our group was born of science, and for more than 100 years, science has always been at the heart of our company; it is a fundamental pillar of our success with consumers,” said Barbara Lavernos, chief Research, Innovation and Technology officer at L’Oréal Group. “As early as the 1970’s, we were convinced that testing on animals is not right. To achieve this, the solution was to successfully model human skin. This is how our models of reconstructed skin enables us to test the safety and effectiveness of our ingredients. We have even dedicated an entire research facility to this activity.”
L’Oréal scientists, she said, have gone in two different directions to meet the needs of customers today. One revolves around a dedication to transparency in product creation and testing; and the other has to do with sustainable innovation.
“Sustainable innovation that is being revolutionised by Green Sciences is accelerating with all of the possibilities offered by biotechnologies, biofermentation, and green chemistries,” she said.
Lavernos added: “Thanks to Green Sciences, we are able to take up this ambitious scientific and technical challenge. This virtuous, circular economy-based approach will allow us to achieve new levels of performance and discover unprecedented cosmetic benefits without compromising on quality or safety, in the service of beauty that is respectful of the planet.”
The clean beauty movement
“In today’s hyper-connected world, where fake news is everywhere and on various topics, consumers are increasingly challenging the accuracy of data,” said Julia Sarhy, L’Oréal Global Consumer Insights director. “There is always a way for consumers to set new communication standards with companies about transparency.”
The Covid-19 crisis, she said, has accelerated the move to digital. Companies are being held to higher standards when it comes to sharing information and opening the doors to their knowledge banks. Another factor that has come into focus includes ‘clarity’ – sending messages in a simple and understandable way. “Lastly, we have ‘honesty’; consumers don’t just want to be told a beautiful story, they want to be told the truthful story.”
Consumers, she revealed, want products that keep their safety and health at the core of their promise to consumers. This is followed by a ‘back-to-basic’ approach, where consumers are looking for products that are simple in terms of freshness, and ingredients that are not controversial – this is referred to as the clean beauty movement.
Sarhy further revealed that another key topic for consumers revolves around the ethical sourcing of ingredients – consumers don’t want to buy products that are harmful to the biodiversity of the planet, and they don’t want products with ingredients that are sourced at the expense of the natural environment. Another key shift, she said, has been in the movement away from putting recognisable faces to products – such as celebrities and influencers – and instead choosing to spread a message through scientific experts who can explain exactly what a product is made up of and how to properly use it.
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