How Herbal Essences is trying to use charity to tackle wicked eco-problems

By Ravyn Cullor contact

- Last updated on GMT

The multinational hair care brand has focused its sustainability campaigns around plant conservation and reforestation. © Getty Images - Janie Airey
The multinational hair care brand has focused its sustainability campaigns around plant conservation and reforestation. © Getty Images - Janie Airey

Related tags: Sustainability, charity, Environment, Plant, botanicals, Conservation biology

Mass market hair care brand Herbal Essences is trying to use its long-standing focus on plants to shape sustainability programs that connect to and tackle issues directly associated with it.

The P&G brand is currently running its second annual Renew the Forest campaign, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and national grocery chains Albertsons and Meijer. The program will plant a tree for every two bottles sold at the retail locations or online through May 21.

One of the keys to making this campaign and other programs at Herbal Essences work are partnerships with organizations that share goals with the brand, Chief Scientist for Herbal Essences Rachel Zipperian told CosmeticsDesign.

Some of those partnerships include The Nature Conservancy, the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, the World Wildlife Fund, local organizations and retailers, Zipperian said.

“We have a pretty solid group of different partners that we work with that have helped educate us and really step change how we're approaching some of our innovation, some of how we communicate things,”​ Zipperian said. “We're always looking for where there are opportunities to use business to close gaps where things could be circular.”

Focusing on plants for a plant-focused brand

Plants are central both in Herbal Essences’ branding and botanically based formulation, which is a central reason why Zipperian said the brand has chosen to focus on plants in their sustainability campaigns.

Alongside the tree campaign, which the brand centers around celebrating Earth Day, they have also been involved in seed banking endangered plants with the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, planting 200,000 trees in Mexico and participating in more local efforts.

“This is something that is really driven by passion and looking to have that fit of where your brand can stand for something good, but in an authentic way,”​ Zipperian said. “Herbal Essences is made with plants, so it makes sense to protect plants.”

She also said enthusiasm about the campaigns within the brand is important. Beyond current campaigns, enthusiasm about sustainability partnerships can drive companies to continue seeking ways to make innovations and changes.

Multinational partnership and education

One of the benefits of partnering with multinational retailers on campaigns like Renew the Forest is the edition physical space it affords in a retail setting. While Herbal Essences can post sustainability information online, extra end cap space with branding for the campaign meets consumers where they are.

Zipperian also said the brand has also put effort into consumer education around the importance of plant conservation on a sustainability level whether through social media and branding, participating in campaigns or pushing for the reintroduction of botanical studies into STEM.

She added that Herbal Essences prefers to take a “joy and hope”​ approach to this messaging, as opposed to “doom and gloom.”

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