A survey by GfK revealed that over half of Brazilian consumers consider the environmental impact of the cosmetics they put in their shopping baskets – the highest percentage for any country. By promoting a more sustainable consumerism, Brazilians have also become more demanding and rigorous in their buying process. A research by Brazilian NGO Instituto Akatu highlights the five top aspects that Brazilian consumers consider when choosing a product: “cruelty-free” (52%), “socially responsible” (46%), “environmentally friendly” (46%), “low energy consumption” (44%) and “certified for fair labor practices” (43%).
Beauty has a strong association with green in Brazil, but is the industry ready to deliver? Brazil’s cosmetic giants Natura and O Boticário certainly are. The leading beauty company in Latin America, Natura is the only large cosmetic firm to become carbon-neutral. In 2013, Canadian research group Corporate Knights ranked Natura the second most sustainable company on the planet for its numerous sustainability initiatives. O Boticário is also strongly committed to corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. The Boticário Group Foundation has supported more than 1,400 initiatives from 480 different institutions over the last 24 years and protects 11,000 hectares of Atlantic Forest and Cerrado, two of the most endangered biomed in Brazil.
But the “green factor” is not an exclusive privilege of Brazil’s leading cosmetic companies. Founded in 1995, Surya Brasil has won several awards for its sustainable practices, products and packaging. From the release of the company’s first hair color range with organic ingredients to its latest collection of vegan lip balms made from candelilla wax, Surya Brasil has secured its place among Brazil’s most ethical beauty companies. Its social responsibility program, Surya Solidaria, develops and supports environmental preservation, animal rights and social welfare projects.
Some of the main challenges and opportunities involved in going green to grow in the Brazilian market were covered in the third Latin American edition of the Sustainable Cosmetic Summit, held 10th – 12th September in Sao Paulo. Organized by Organic Monitor, the event brought together leading companies and organizations to share their experiences and discuss the latest advances in green ingredients, marketing and distribution practices. The summit assessed the importance of sustainability metrics in the cosmetic industry, provided insights into how retailers are selecting and marketing green products, and explored how manufacturers can reduce their environmental footprint by using sustainable materials.
“Sustainability involves more than just natural and organic ingredients in cosmetic formulations. It encompasses transparency in supply chains, production processes and distribution, as well as social aspects,” says Tina Gill, marketing manager at Organic Monitor. “Packaging is also important, with companies looking at eco-design, sustainable materials and reducing packaging in waste streams.”
According to Gill, there have been many developments in green materials, with the introduction of new ingredients that attain the same performance as synthetics. “We have seen new green preservatives, emulsifiers, emollients and surfactants been introduced in recent years, making it easier for companies to develop green formulations and replace synthetics.” She believes that the main challenge when marketing natural and organic cosmetics is to differentiate these products from those that make natural claims. “So many brands are marketing their cosmetics on natural ingredients that consumers cannot tell the difference between ’pure natural’ cosmetics and conventional cosmetics that have natural ingredients in their formulations,” says Gill.
The Sustainable Cosmetics Summit will also hold an Asia-Pacific edition (10th – 11th November, in Hong Kong) and a European edition (24th – 26th November, in Paris), which are a great opportunity for Brazilian companies looking to enter or grow their presence in these markets with a focus on green initiatives.