How retailers can get the message about sustainable beauty brands right

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

How retailers can get the message about sustainable beauty brands right

Related tags Corporate social responsibility Sustainability Loblaw

Getting the right message into the retail aisles about sustainably developed beauty brands is challenging, but here an expert talks us through some of the basic steps.

Jennifer Lambert is the Sustainability Manager at Loblaw, and as an expert in this area she has activity participated in a number of industry initiatives targeting cleaner, more environmentally friendly business practices.

Lambert will be speaking at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit​, which takes place in New York next week, and will be focusing on how beauty retailers fit in to the environmentally-friendly equation.

What is the first area of sustainability that retailers need to focus on to make a difference?

Loblaw has conducted significant research and through this identified priority focus areas for future work.  Some of these focus areas include responsible supply chain management, nutrition and nutritional education, community investment and donations, food waste, sustainable packaging, and energy efficiencies. 

Sustainability is an ever-evolving area of work.  On-going dialogue and collaboration with stakeholders helps us to prioritize issues of greatest concern and develop appropriate action plans.  We work closely with the scientific community and partner with advisors for expert opinion and guidance in specific areas.

Jennifer Lambert - Sustainability Senior Manager at Loblaw
Jennifer Lambert, sustainability manager at Loblaw

What part do consumers play in making retailers more sustainable? And how does this happen?    

To understand our customer’s perspectives on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, Loblaw conducts an annual survey.  Recent survey results indicate that in general, respondents chose initiatives related to health and wellness, fair wages, and preventing child labour as issues of greatest importance. Other areas of high importance for retailers to address to be socially responsible included local sourcing and healthier food choices. 

Our control brand products are one of the main reasons why our customers select Loblaw as one of the best grocery retailers in Canada.  Our customers expect higher standards with our private label brands and these high standards are a mechanism to drive loyalty and trust.   We often look to lead and differentiate by innovating with our private brands, and sustainability is included in that. 

What are examples of retailers that are doing a good job at sustainability in why?     ​ 

In Canada, many retailers have made commitments to move to only sustainably sourced seafood.  Although there are many different approaches, these actions will make a significant impact on our ability to continue to source seafood in the future, as well as minimize the environmental impacts from fishing and fish farming. 

At Loblaw, our commitment to sustainable seafood in 2009 was the beginning of our sustainable sourcing journey.  Along the way we have developed many relationships with our supply chain stakeholders and we continue to work collaboratively with industry to implement better and more responsible sourcing practices. 

How do you envisage the ultra- green and sustainable beauty retailer of the future? What big differences will there be.

Our goal is to build sustainable practices into the way we do business every day.  In the future, retailers will need to understand their supply chains, and work towards supporting industry in adopting socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and economically sound practices in order to ensure a sustainable future. 

How can retailers make themselves sustainably accountable in a way consumers can understand and relate to?

Making transparent, time bound, measurable commitments is one way that retailers can make themselves accountable for sustainability.  Loblaw publishes an annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) report​ that makes a good reference.

The report provides our stakeholders, including our customers, details of our activities which support our corporate purpose - Live Life Well.  We achieve this through our 3 principles; Enriching the communities that contribute to the success of our enterprise, responsibly sourcing products that are safe, sustainable and follow our Canadian first principles, and reducing our impact on the environment, primarily in the areas of waste, energy, transportation and packaging.

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