The Body Shop, the health and beauty manufacturer and retailer, is making activism a core part of its business – extending all the way from marketing messages to the commercial brand proposition.

The brand has always had a strong sense of purpose, driven by founder Anita Roddick back in the 1980s and 1990s, based around selling products that weren’t tested on animals and campaigning on environmental issues.

That has been diluted through a couple of changes of ownership since then – after a decade in the L’Oréal camp, it was acquired by Brazilian cosmetics firm Natura in 2017 – but it has been reassessing its vision and how that can be modernised for the 21st century.

An indicator of where it is headed is that it now boasts a “global head of activism”. Officer holder Jessie Macneil-Brown told WARC how the brand sees activism as moving beyond purpose.

“We feel [activism] is our unique selling point,” she said. It’s something we do quite differently and we were one of the first brands to do it. (For more, read WARC’s report: Beyond brand purpose: The Body Shop embraces activism.)

“We want to bring our products closer to activism,” she explained. “We want to have spaces for activism in our stores, we want to be encouraging our store members to be bringing activism to work.

“In fact, we’re working very hard at the moment to skill up all our team members, wherever they are in the world, so that they can bring their activism to work every day.”

And it’s not just about staff; it involves customer participation and reaching out to activists to learn and collaborate, rather than co-opting a movement.

“Our brand purpose is everyday ‘business as usual’ for us,” Macneil-Brown said. “Activism is above and beyond, and it involves our customers. It’s that direct contact with our customer, bringing them together on issues that we know they care about, and how we can inspire positive change.”

The brand is serious enough about this to include the impact of such activism in its quarterly reports, adding accountability and transparency to commercial growth in a “triple bottom line”.

Sourced from WARC