Sustainability was the key theme at this year’s Cosmoprof beauty conference in Bologna, which drew in over a quarter of a million visitors from around the world. Here’s a summary of what we learnt:

  1. We need to redefine what it means to be consumers: Less and less will we be consuming for the sake of consuming. We’ll have to anticipate a world order where we’re buying fewer, higher quality products, with greater meaning and alignment to our values.
  2. It’s not what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it”: In the words of Stefan Siemer, Head Corporate Sustainability at Weleda Group, superficial CSR won’t cut it anymore.
  3. Define your claims: ‘Natural’, ‘green’ and ‘clean’ mean little to discerning consuming who are wary of greenwashing with unsubstantiated claims. Being clear on your definition can also bring differentiation, and allow you to set your own benchmarks for other brands to follow.
  4. Sustainability is a journey: It’s OK to show humility that you’re not yet perfect. Transparency is the way to go.
  5. Recycled, not recyclable: It’s about making a positive impact to the environment, not simply harming it less. Beyond that, is your recycled packaging also recyclable?
  6. It’s an equal responsibility between consumers and brands: Both need to encourage each other, and consumers need to be willing to compromise on cost, packaging, or efficacy in the meantime.
  7. Make a commitment and stick to it: This is how brands will demonstrate that they take their responsibility seriously.
  8. The opportunity for disruption is significant: Disruption is how we will overcome barriers and create the momentum needed to encourage products that tick all the boxes of price, convenience, efficacy, and beauty.
  9. Gen Z are the biggest proponent: But they are conflicted as crave the newest and hottest, but also want to consume more consciously. It’s up to brands to keep them engaged and excited while focusing on fewer, better products.
  10. Contextualise the good brought on from consumer choices: Empower consumers by helping them understand the impact that they can have. So rather than saying you’ve saved X litres of water by making this choice, frame it as Y seconds under the shower.

These are cross-category learnings for sustainability, and we are excited to see who the visionaries and pioneers are that make the first moves!

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