In an effort to appeal to younger, more ethically minded consumers, while showcasing initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint, skincare brands are spotlighting environmentally responsible approaches to create safe, high quality products. A leader in this area since its founding, Aveda tackles sustainability on many fronts that include using renewable energy (wind power), recyclable packaging, as well as using bioplastic alternatives derived from sugarcane when it can, in lieu of synthetics.

Estée Lauder, the parent company of Aveda, has a similar environmental lean through its Origins “wellness” brand, more specifically, Origins Three Part Harmony facial skincare launched in 2015. Yet, brands that claim to use renewable energy are few in number and account for only 0.25% of facial skincare products launched from January to October 2015 – and Estée Lauder accounted for most of them, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).

As we just passed the 1-degree C temperature increase for the planet, companies like L’Oréal and Unilever have joined in aggressively executing a multi-tier strategy to reduce their carbon footprints. This commitment across a variety of diverse interests continues to gain momentum as evidenced by the number of attendees at the 2015 Sustainable Innovation Forum. The forum brings together cross-sector representation including business, NGO and government to find ways to expand breadth of the “green economy.”  

Ethical brands endorsed by younger generations

Climate change, a term that certainly generates strong opinions, is looked at closely by younger generations as their partnership with the planet will extend longer than their parents and grandparents. Similarly, younger generations increasingly  seek out and support brands they perceive as ethical.

43% of US iGens are willing to spend more money on a brand they perceive as ethical

The term ethical can be defined as adhering to principles of what is “right” to do. Over half of US iGens and Millennials will purchase from ethical companies with 43% of iGens willing to spend more money on an ethical brand. Perhaps impacting the financials even more, 43% of the youngest generations actively promote ethical brands through social media in stark contrast to only 15% of Baby Boomers.

According to Mintel research, nearly two in five Millennials believe ethical and environmentally friendly are linked, compared to three in 10 Baby Boomers. Financial cost was often omitted from the environmental impact conversation in the past. Yet, that cannot be overlooked as nearly three in five US consumers purchase green to save money, suggesting that consumers view green as good, but exceedingly better when it is financially beneficial.

As pricing for green innovations becomes more palatable, the rate of adoption, and more notably an allegiance to green will evolve. Brands can take advantage by drawing attention to their usage of more popular, available, financially reasonable, clean energy alternatives that can sway consumer trial.

What’s more, Mintel research suggests that younger, more social- and media-savvy consumers will be advocates of ethical and environmentally responsible brands. As the concerns for climate change grow over the coming years and the 2-degree C temperature begins to edge ominously closer, consumers around the globe will prioritize corporate planetary ethics as a key reason to purchase.

David Tyrrell is a Global Skincare Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel. He provides analysis of consumer skincare needs and behaviors, ingredient and product assessments and competitive insights that impact business interests of skincare companies across the globe.

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