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The Body Shop: can a chain believe in social responsibility?

Cosmetics chain that doesn’t test products on animals and uses only organic ingredients.

Until it was bought by the French multinational L’Oréal in March of 2006 for 652 million euro, the history of the British cosmetics chain The Body Shop International is tied to its founder, Anita Roddick, responsible for the company’s politics of social responsibility since the first store of the franchise opened in 1976 in the United Kingdom.

The Body Shop carved out a space in a market dominated by multinationals through the positioning of its products, whose production didn’t involve animal testing and that only use innocuous and biodegradable products.

Roddick developed the idea to create a cosmetics firm and a chain of stores in which to market them after thinking that a sustainable positioning would attract a public committed to the environment.

During a trip to the United States, the businesswoman visited a small store in Berkeley, on the San Francisco Bay, that had managed to combine the values of the Californian counterculture with their sanitary, and personal hygiene, products.

The small store sold shampoos, lotions and creams, explained to their clients why use products with only organic ingredients and, offered discounts to those who brought their own bottles instead of acquiring products with a new container provided by the store.

The small store, originally also called The Body Shop, offered Roddick the perfect model to carry this model of sustainability to an industrial scale.

From the beginning The Body Shop has based its business model on offering products created with natural ingredients; the labels of each product offer detailed technical, although intelligible, information, about the contents; and continuing the idea of the California store that she had visited, they offer a 15% discount to clients that bring their own bottles.

After becoming a multinational and being quoted on the stock market in 1986, the business has tried to defend its ideals through aid to environmental campaigns coordinated by Greenpeace.

The products of The Body Shop are prohibited in China, where legislation requires that cosmetic products are tested on animals.

  • More information about The Body Shop, at Wikipedia.