Cosmetics Design: What are the biggest challenges a company faces when developing a sustainability plan?
Nancy Mahon: “Identifying what sustainability means for your brand, no matter how large or small, can be a challenge. What is your differentiator? How does it fit in with the existing brand identity? Where are the opportunities? These are all questions that will help with integrating sustainability into existing brand processes and culture and can be answered by working closely with your internal strategy and communications teams to leverage core components of the brand DNA throughout your sustainability strategy and messaging.
“Teams must also view a sustainability plan as something that will help them achieve their business goals; if this is missing, collaboration and accountability will be scarce. Oftentimes companies will include components of the sustainability plan into business unit and employee performance assessments. Another critical part of securing support and accountability is successfully gaining senior leadership buy-in. Raising awareness and excitement internally through training and education programs is another great way to address challenges to integration and implementation before they arise.
“Oftentimes, sustainability programs are cost centers at the outset, so securing financial backing can be a challenge. As with any investment, leverage data and analytics to demonstrate how sustainability programs can improve efficiencies and save costs in the long run, both financial and reputational. Maintaining active involvement in cross-industry working groups and thought leadership events to track the development of new tools and metrics can also help support the business case for sustainability programs.”
Cosmetics Design: How, when, and why can beauty companies best communicate with consumers about sustainability?
Nancy Mahon: “How: Communicate proactively on your areas of differentiation and in a clear way that will stick with your audience. Remind consumers of your priority focus areas, address of-the-moment topics, and leverage diverse channels. It’s also important to be humble and honest; authenticity is key, as consumers will be unforgiving of disingenuous marketing. Sustainability is a journey, and we are not perfect, but we are ready to move forward together.
“When: Remember that today’s consumers are plugged-in and mobile, so meet your target audience when and where they are (online, social media, etc.). Communicate regularly and frequently, aligning with key global events and trends.
“Why: Proactively addressing consumer concerns and topics of interest maintains a positive corporate reputation. Further, brands with purpose embedded into their value proposition are held to a higher standard, so sincere and substantive communication is an unwavering expectation for such brands.
Learn more about “Tackling the Sustainability Challenge” when Nancy Mahon speaks on May 4th at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in New York City.