Big Brand Talks 2022: Industry leaders weigh in on climate and global health

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Executive leaders at Rituals, L'Oréal, Colgate-Palmolive, LVMH and Weleda weigh in on the climate crisis and wider health crisis [Getty Images]
Executive leaders at Rituals, L'Oréal, Colgate-Palmolive, LVMH and Weleda weigh in on the climate crisis and wider health crisis [Getty Images]

Related tags Rituals L'oréal Colgate-palmolive Lvmh Weleda Sustainability circular beauty Oral care oral health Environment

Executive leaders from Rituals, L’Oréal, Colgate-Palmolive, LMVH and Weleda discuss how industry can truly advance sustainably and how critical consumer education will be for driving true change in this space, as well as wider health and wellbeing shifts.

This year, CosmeticsDesign-Europe started a 'Big Brand Talks' project speaking to today's beauty leaders at executive level about some of the most critical issues of our time, notably the global climate crisis. Why? Because these leaders sat on the front-line given the reach of their mass and prestige businesses. Because these executives were at the top of their game for a reason. And because these were the members of industry with the power to influence sweeping change.

These exclusive interviews provided a fascinating 'behind-the-scenes' perspective on why exactly certain decisions were being made, how they were being thought through and what these leaders thought needed to happen moving forward.

Here, CosmeticsDesign-Europe looks back at the Big Brand Talks interviews of 2022.

Rituals CEO on blurring luxury and sustainability – ‘it feels sometimes paradoxal’

In January, when Dutch beauty major Rituals achieved B Corp status, we caught up with Raymond Cloosterman, CEO and founder of Rituals.

“Three years ago, we realised if we wanted to become a leading wellbeing brand in the beauty industry, then we should take a more holistic approach to the approach of wellbeing. So, not only concentrating on what we have to offer to our customers, but also how we run our business; how we treat our employees, suppliers and everyone around us. That led to the idea of going towards B Corp,”​ Cloosterman said.

The biggest challenge through this transition, however, had been ensuring Rituals still lived up to its promise of elegant stores and products designed to make a difference to consumers, he said.

“It was all about how we can make luxury, sustainability and social responsibility go hand in hand. I like that challenge. It’s not easy, because it feels sometimes paradoxal, but it is possible,”​ he said.

L’Oréal sustainable packaging director – ‘eco-desirability’ will be key

In March, we caught up with Brice André, global director of sustainable packaging at L’Oréal​, to brainstorm the future of beauty packaging.

“I actually truly believe that the future of beauty packaging will be in eco-desirability – a combination of ecological, or sustainable, and desirability,” ​André said.

Importantly, he said this shift would require change both upstream, with reuse and refill concepts, and downstream via improved recycling and composting. On the upstream side, he said more consumers were shifting in this direction and L’Oréal remained “very hopeful that this model will take off more in the future”.

“…The big challenge will be to have both consumers and all the different actors really aligned to progress. And what I see as a major hurdle is the understanding of lifecycle analysis,” ​he said.

Colgate-Palmolive VP – oral disease remains a ‘global health crisis’

In March, we caught up with Dr Maria Ryan, VP and chief clinical officer at Colgate-Palmolive​, to discuss the challenges with driving better consumer awareness around oral health – one month after the launch of its global consumer education programme.

“What many people don’t realise is that the consequences of tooth decay and gum disease reach far beyond our mouths and are linked to physical health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, as well a mental health and emotional wellbeing,” ​Ryan said.

Despite widespread and ongoing research proving this, she said there remained a “major information gap and lack of understanding” ​about the importance of oral health. Oral disease, she said, was a “global health crisis”​ with “far-reaching and significant impacts​”.

Colgate-Palmolive was well-placed to educate and create change, Ryan said, and planned to help advance oral health literacy amongst consumers worldwide. “We have the power, team, partners, innovations and motivation to fulfil our company’s purpose: reimagining a healthier future for all,”​ she said.

LVMH chief sustainability officer – ‘businesses need to step up’

In July, we caught up with Isabelle Sultan, chief sustainability officer at Parfums Christian Dior,​ to discuss the future of sustainability in the premium beauty category.

“The science is very clear; businesses need to step up, need to accelerate the pace of change,”​ Sultan said. “…The cost of inaction will be much higher than the cost of action and we really need to collectively address the biodiversity and climate emergencies.”

The pressure to create change, she said, was on both mass beauty and prestige beauty brands. And, importantly, she said these two categories could also come together “to create a more sustainable beauty industry overall”.

“…We really believe we have a role to play in beating today’s global challenges and basically accelerating our sustainability agenda,”​ she said.

Weleda R&D chief – innovation for use-phase and packaging critical

In December, we caught up with Dr Bernhard Irrgang, head of R&D for natural and organic cosmetics at Weleda​, about innovating sustainably in the future.

This year, Weleda had formed a ‘Futurum’ group – a five-person startup-style group dedicated to speedy ideation, product development and market testing – which represented a “very new”​ way of working for the brand, Irrgang said.

“We’re trying to switch our way of innovating,”​ he said.

And innovation, he said, would be key in driving true sustainable change across the beauty industry in the coming years. Industry also had to closely consider the use phase of its products, where plenty of environmental impact occurred with showering and bathing, he said. Weleda, for example, was thinking about new formulations and types of products to influence fresh ways of using products, he said.

On the packaging side, he said industry collaboration and market-standard formats, to facilitate returns, refills and recycling, would be a strong way forward and “the only way”​ true circularity could be achieved across industry.

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