Monday, August 18, 2008

Can The Body Shop Retake the Moral High Ground?

Long before it was fashionable, The Body Shop was one of a handful of environmentally and socially responsible retailers. Along with Patagonia, Benetton and Ben & Jerry’s, they led the dialog on sustainable development and do-good consumerism.

Fast-forward about 30 years – the company’s highly fragranced stores are now owned by L’Oreal and in need of finding a meaningful point of differentiation. In Saturday’s issue of The Globe and Mail, Marsha Strauss reports “ Body Shop wants to climb back on its soap box and stand out from the crowd.”

So, what are they doing? Going back to their roots and reminding the world of their green cred. Problem is, the world has caught up with, or surpassed The Body Shop on sustainability. In pursuit of growth, The Body Shop took their credentials for granted and failed to invest in leading the conversation.

Now that sustainability and green are increasingly mainstream among retailers, how does a one-time leader reassert itself and its relevance to a new generation of eco-conscientious consumers? It’s going to take more than new slogans on posters in stores, which is what the retailer apparently is planning this fall. Based on Strauss' description, I doubt Body Shop can pull it off.

1 comment:

Carol Phillips said...

Good insight. Now that even Wal-Mart has taken a stand on sustainability, its power as a differentiator is diminished for Body Shop. With 'green' as a parity claim, Body Shop will need to find the 'next big idea' to sustain its image of leadership. No attribute is forever, why can't they re invent themselves on another issue? There are certainly enough to go around....

Carol Phillips