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‘What’s Your Purpose?’ Discover how sustainability is evolving the Personal Care industry with Mintel

What’s Your Purpose?’ – That’s the question each of our monthly guests will have the opportunity to answer on our new Beauty Care Sustainability podcast, named accordingly. The goal of ‘What’s Your Purpose?’ is to spark conversation around the role sustainability is playing in shaping the future of beauty and inspire listeners to take action for a more sustainable industry. We will be releasing monthly podcasts featuring respected industry experts to discuss topics such as sustainability trends, ingredient sourcing, plastic packaging, and biodiversity. And with each expert, we’ll learn about the purpose that drives them to strive for a more sustainable Personal Care industry.

For our first episode, we sat down with Andrew McDougall, Mintel’s Director of Beauty and Personal Care Research. With 12 years of experience in the beauty industry and 6 years at Mintel, a global, award-winning market intelligence agency, McDougall has the unique opportunity to observe and introduce beauty trends as they unfold.

what's your purpose logo with photo of andrew mcdougall

“We are seeing the option for more sustainable solutions becoming much more viable and appealing,” McDougall said during our conversation on ‘What’s Your Purpose?’. “Our purpose is bringing you [the supplier and beauty brands] the consumer sentiment so we can work on strategies to deliver sustainable practices to them [beauty consumers].”

Transparency
In Beauty and Personal Care, transparency goes hand-in-hand with sustainability – and Mintel are seeing consumers demanding transparency from brands more than ever. Conscious consumers are taking extra time to research the products they are using and the companies they are purchasing from. Consumers want to purchase from brands with values that align with their own sustainability and societal goals.

Sustainability and ethics have seemingly merged in recent years, and sustainability is no longer just about how ‘green’ a company is. There are social and moral parameters that need to be addressed when truly considering the overall sustainability of a brand. Although ethical transparency is a seemingly easy concept to agree on, becoming completely transparent can be difficult to put into action. McDougall recommends that companies be authentic, not merely performative, and carefully consider the topics they choose to tackle.

“It’s about understanding what you should be playing in and what you shouldn’t be playing in,” he said. Stepping into an arena that is not truthful or relevant to your brand might be perceived as inauthentic to consumers and can be difficult to recover from.

Working Together
McDougall also stresses the importance of brands supporting each other in the sustainability realm. If sustainable products and practices are our end goal as an industry, we can’t let competitiveness get in the way. 

“I think going forward, there has to be this big shift in the way that we approach sustainability because it’s different than how we approach everything else,” he said. “We have to work together. We have to have open sourcing. We have to have much more sharing.”

Hands holding sprouting plants

McDougall emphasises that there is a huge amount of education that needs to be done to successfully create a sustainable personal care market. For instance, the complexities of sustainable packaging clearly highlight this point. McDougall notes that consumers often don’t know how to properly dispose of their used packaging, with it potentially ending up in the trash bin or in the incorrect recycling receptacle.

He encourages educating consumers about how to reuse, recycle, or properly dispose of materials. There is so much that can be done on-pack to properly demonstrate end-of-use procedures for a cosmetic product, and this would certainly be a step in the right direction towards advancing a circular economy.

Joy-Based Selling
Another major point McDougall discusses is the concept of ‘joy-based selling’  and positive messaging relating to sustainability in the personal care industry. Brands should find ways to form a connection with their consumers and provide them with positive reasons to consider a more sustainable approach.
 
“The emotional connection, the positivity that we have through beauty is a really fascinating one to look at,” he said. “Around sustainability, we do need more positive messaging to say, you know what, we can do things better. We can always do things better.”
 
Pandemic Effects
McDougall also touches on how the pandemic has played a large part in accelerating the general trend toward sustainability. While we were in lockdown, we saw the haze that normally covers much of India lift, allowing Punjab residents to see the Himalayas for the first time in a long time. C&EN captures the disappearing haze in the photos below, and CNN showcases the visible Himalayas.

Cities in India with reduced haze due to pandemic lockdown

We realised that our consumption and habits were directly affecting air pollution. McDougall recognises that this realisation has made consumers consider the impact they have on the planet and the importance of sustainability. Now that consumers and companies alike are setting their sights on a sustainable future, McDougall reminds us that no one can reach that future alone.

“We need to bring everyone with us now,” he said. “You’re only as quick as your slowest person in this one, so it’s important to bring everyone with you. Whether that’s sharing more, educating more, or just dealing with issues as a collective, I think it’s going to be much more powerful.”

Listen to our entire conversation with McDougall to learn more about how Mintel examines ethical claims, what consumers in China think of unethical companies, and other exciting insights. Subscribe to our channel to stay up to date on future episodes  of ‘What’s Your Purpose?’.

Sources:

(1) cen.acs.org/environment/atmospheric-chemistry/COVID-19-lockdowns-had-strange-effects-on-air-pollution-across-the-globe/98/i37 
(2) www.cnn.com/travel/article/himalayas-visible-lockdown-india-scli-intl/index.html

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