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THE BODY SHOP Shopping for Cosmetics
THE BODY SHOP The Evolution of Business in Society No longer are business and community two mutually exclusive spheres of influence in the society today. Increasingly, the trend in companies is to be actively engaged in corporate social initiatives with community involvement. Multinationals like Microsoft, BP, and McDonalds have come to appreciate the benefits reaped from successful integration of corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts into their core business units, which serve as a powerful competitive edge over other companies. The competitive nature of business has very much remained. However, the fundamental role of business in society has evolved over the years. Within a company, there are employers, managers and shareholders. Outside of it lies the sphere of influence that extends towards the government, consumers and not forgetting the community at large. With complex intertwined relationships between business, government and the society, a business exists not solely for the sake of profits but it can entail shrewd corporate strategies like how best to serve its customers, satisfy the needs of the community and meet the expectations of the government. Interestingly, many companies like The Body Shop, Philip Morris and Shell are adopting the new model of strategic philanthropy to incorporate corporate social initiatives into their business. On the other extreme end, multinationals are spending millions on corporate philanthropy, which has absolute nothing to do with their products. In this paper, our group will first outline the various CSR taken by The Body Shop International as well as The Body Shop Singapore. All information with regards to the local CSR initiatives were given by Grace Chang, public relations manager of The Body Shop Asia Pacific. Next, we will attempt to share our objective analysis of these initiatives and what they entail. This is crucial, as we will further analyse the extent of The Body Shop’s corporate social initiatives taking shape in Singapore, which is culturally, socially and politically different from the West. The Green Symbol of Success Anita Roddick founded The Body Shop in 1976, which had evolved from one small shop in Brighton, with only around 25 hand-mixed products on sale, to a multinational company today. Today, The Body Shop has over 1,900 outlets in 50 countries and an impressive collection of over 1000 products. The Body Shop aims to distinguish itself to be a leader in corporate social responsibility. The Company's campaigns against human rights abuses, in favor of animal and environmental protection and its commitment to challenge the stereotypes of beauty perpetuated by the cosmetics industry, have won the support of generations of consumers. It is estimated that The Body Shop sells a product every 0.4 seconds with over 77 million customers worldwide. In 1996, The Body Shop won the prestigious UN Grand Award for outstanding achievement in public relations campaigns. According to the 1997 Interbrand survey criteria, the Body Shop was named as the 28th top brand in the world and second in the retail sector. The Financial Times voted The Body Shop as the 27th most respected company in the world in a 1998 report. In 1999, the Body Shop was voted the second most trusted brand in the UK by the Consumers Association. Mission Statement The Body Shop Mission Statement dedicates the Company's business to the pursuit of social and environmental change. Underpinning the mission statement is The Body Shop Trading Charter, which addresses the three principal concerns of social responsibility, environmental sustainability and animal protection. The focus on these three primary concerns helps to address and balance the needs between the stakeholders, the environment, the communities, and animals, reflected in the policies put down by The Body Shop. Great Expectations The Five Core Values As a socially responsible business, The Body Shop campaigns for the protection of the environment, against animal testing and campaigning for human and civil rights within the cosmetics and toiletries industry around the world. In the following sections, the group will outline and analyze the various environmental, social and community efforts taken by The Body Shop International as well as The Body Shop Singapore and Asia Pacific, which we group under the five core values stated by The Body Shop. 1. Against Animal Testing The Body Shop operates on a strict purchasing rule that ensures they do not buy any ingredient that has been animal tested for cosmetic purposes by their suppliers since 31 December 1990. The Body Shop informs the public and campaigns to ban cosmetics tests on animals. Instead of testing on animals, The Body Shop supports the use and development of alternative technologies like Irritection, a replacement for the rabbit eye test, and human volunteer trials such as skin patch tests assists The Body Shop in ensuring safety and efficacy. In 1986, The Body Shop launched its first window campaign in support of the Greenpeace campaign, Save the Whale. Since then, The Body Shop has actively undertaken several campaigns to protect endangered species. In 1990, The Body Shop raised public awareness against animal testing through its series of campaigns. In 1995, The Body Shop became the first cosmetic company to have their Against Animal Testing supplier-monitoring systems independently audited and successfully certified against the ISO9002 quality assurance standard. In November 1996, The Body Shop was the first international cosmetic company approved under the Humans Cosmetics Standard operated by many of the world's leading animal protection groups. We believe that The Body Shop has certainly lived up to public’s expectations in this area. The Body Shop firmly believes that animals should not be made to suffer just to make humans look better. Hence, they are very strict with their suppliers, requesting them to get certification for the supplies bi-annually to show that they are not tested on animals. While the suppliers have been able to take advantage of several loopholes in the supplying agreements, The Body Shop has been quick to plug such gaps. In fact, even for ingredients required by law to be tested on animals, The Body Shop is considering replacement with alternatives so as to not go against their anti-animal testing principle. We feel that this firm belief, while intended to be altruistic, has given The Body Shop at least two distinct advantages over their competitors in satisfying their stakeholder’s expectations. Firstly, animal rights advocates that have always been railing at cosmetic companies for testing their products on animals has seldom done so to The Body Shop. In fact, The Body Shop is one of the few cosmetics and body care companies they openly support. Next, consumers of cosmetic and body care shops are mostly women. When they purchase their products from The Body Shop, they do not have the feeling of guilt that some cute and furry mammal is suffering for them to feel and look good. Such positive relationship with their stakeholders will further enhance Body Shop’s public image. However, having such close relationships with stakeholders such as animal rights advocates can have its disadvantages as well. A clear example would be the Pink Dolphin incident in Singapore. During an interview, Grace Chang, she revealed that The Body Shop faced some problems here. Initially, when Yeo Hiap Seng first introduced the Pink Dolphin drink, they declared that a portion of the profits from this drink would go into research on dolphins in Sentosa UnderWater World. The Body Shop Singapore chipped in, thinking that this would help to save endangered dolphins, which is coherent with their mission. However, a major animal rights advocate group in the United States apparently believed that by doing so, this would encourage breeding dolphins in captivity, which they feel should be left to breed in the wild. The Body Shop Singapore received a protest call from them and to prevent offending them, they tried to verify that the money was going to benefit dolphins. However, the project was eventually scrapped in the end. From this incident, it is evident that The Body Shop has a tremendous responsibility to uphold against animal testing values. Although only in Singapore, where we are consider small compared to larger markets in Japan or Spain, the impact of local activities tremors can be felt even in the United States. This goes to show how The Body Shop has successfully gathered support from the public especially the animal activists, who play substantial roles in its CSR initiatives. 2. Protecting the Environment The Body Shop believes that a business has a responsibility to protect the environment in which it operates. The Body Shop’s first Environmental Policy was developed in to ensure that environmental laws are complied with at all times and in the event of difficulties, these will be reported to the appropriate regulatory authorities. The Body Shop is also committed to raise environmental awareness amongst its employees and business partners around the world. Other crucial stakeholders involved are the environmentalists and consumers. In 2001, The Body Shop joined forces with Greenpeace International in a global campaign to increase awareness of the issue of global warming and encourage customers to take part in halting global warming by switching to renewable energy. In 2000, The Body Shop International Service Centre, UK/ROI regional offices in Littlehampton and London along with 100 UK/ROI company stores switched to renewable energy supplied by Ecotricity. This environmental policy of The Body Shop has humble beginnings. Initially, in order to save costs, The Body Shop made use of recycled materials. As saving the environment gradually became a larger public concern, The Body Shop responded in a strategic enhancement tie with their stakeholders. It gradually evolved into a full-fledged policy. This policy of saving energy and recycling, even encouraging customers to refill their products by reusing bottles, have won plaudits from environmental activists all over the world. The 1996 Environmental Reporting Scoreboard' - a study by Company Reporting, an independent accounts auditor, ranked The Body Shop highest out of 42 environmental reports and statements according to the amount of information disclosed by companies about their impact on the environment. By implementing an environmental policy and following it, The Body Shop is able to save costs, as well as to generate positive image to its stakeholders. An important point to highlight here is that the fact that Anita Roddick is able to integrate extensive environmental policies into The Body Shop’s business is because of a silent assumption that the public is capable of being educated to think in an environmentally responsible way. By being actively involved in campaigning for saving the environment, The Body Shop collaterally create new wants and needs in the consumers’ mindset i.e. to get the consumers to think and go green, a common trend in the market today. But a bigger question we ask The Body Shop is to what extent are the Singaporean consumers willing to spend on environmentally friendly cosmetic products without burning a hole in their pockets? Do consumers worldwide especially in Singapore support and buy The Body Shop products just because they provide refill services and recycled bottles or do consumers really care? To answer our deepest doubts, we scoured the streets to interview The Body Shop’s customers in Singapore. Our interviews revealed that when customers buy from The Body Shop, supporting the environment is not the main reason for purchasing their products. Practical reasons like reasonable price and quality were some of the answers provided when asked why they buy The Body Shop’s products. Little is known about the initiatives taken by The Body Shop to protect the environment, the animals or human rights. However when asked if they are willing to pay more to support environment programs or campaigns, most of the consumers do not mind as long as it is within their budget. Therefore, we think that the passion to support The Body Shop because it engages in saving the environment is virtually non-existent in the minds of Singaporean consumers. This can be attributed to the fact that most Singaporeans are often nonchalant towards environment issues, which usually are taken with a pitch of salt. Another attempt by The Body Shop in Singapore was to sponsor recycling bins in the MRT stations. However they ran into a lot of bureaucracy from the Government with regards to the strategic positions of the bins due to strict security reasons. This avidly shows the obstacles that The Body Shop faced in the implementation of environmental programs in Singapore, which probably explain for the low publicity, and occurrence of such intensive programs. Disregarding the red tapes present in the Singapore context, we feel that that The Body Shop is capable of doing even more. Take the recycling bottles for consumer as an example, it is a very good initiative but we feel that The Body Shop is not emphasizing enough. Customers in Singapore do not purchase items from The Body Shop just because they can reuse the bottles and save the environment. There is very little incentive for them to do so as they do not save much money from it. In fact, some staffs in Singapore are not even aware of the refilling services that The Body Shop provides. In the West, customers are given the option of carriers such that plastic or paper bags are minimally used. However, in Singapore, carriers are given without even asking the customers. This goes on to show that even employees of The Body Shop Singapore are not trained or informed of The Body Shop’s environmental policy. We feel more should be done to get its employees in Singapore to be well informed and be more proactive in areas of helping to save the planet. Though it may be spoiling its intended motive of recycling, The Body Shop Singapore can give incentives, such as rewarding their customers who refill with vouchers or free gifts. In a way, they may benefit from gaining customers’ loyalty; incentives will not only help to improve their relationship with regular customers, but will also make their environmental policy even more successful, as more people will be reusing their bottles. 3. Defend Human Rights The Body Shop believes that businesses, in particular, have a part to play in effecting social change. If more businesses demonstrate a social conscience and act with social responsibility, governments would have to listen. The Body Shop began their campaigning on this issue years ago with Amnesty International in full support of their customers - 3,000,000 of them signed up to the 'Make your Mark' campaign. In 2000, The Body Shop launched its own Human Rights award as an ongoing commitment to support the defense of human rights the world over. The intention is to give special attention to the neglected areas of social, economic and cultural rights, such as education, housing and health. Our group feels that The Body Shop, being a beauty and cosmetic business does not have a direct interest to advocate Human Rights issues. As such, by doing so, The Body Shop would probably gain a lot of positive publicity and goodwill, as it will be hard to question the motives of this initiative. We feel that this program is very closely related to The Body Shop mission statement of being socially responsible to the community. For example in 1993, The Body Shop risked suffering political disfavor from the Nigerian government by supporting the campaign of the Ogoni people of Nigeria against the economic exploitation and environmental destruction caused by the Nigerian military dictatorship and multinational oil companies like Shell. The Body Shop supported this campaign and its founder, Anita Roddick, personally fought the issue through public press by presenting many high profile speeches written by herself and other company executives. Though we think that Anita Roddick may be doing this as a means of publicity for The Body Shop, we feel that it’s a win- win situation for both The Body Shop and the community. If The Body Shop had not supported the campaign, there would be one less voice to support and speak up for these people. The Body Shop’s contribution to social change in this aspect is significant. Hence, we feel that this program is a very good illustration of how a large powerful multinational company like The Body Shop can do to lend a larger voice to the people under oppression around the world and that The Body Shop should try to continue and expand the scope of this program. We feel that The Body Shop has been very vocal and daring to take up an issue that is both controversial and sensitive even in a controversial society like Singapore. In Singapore, it took leadership in conducting AIDS awareness courses in business, which was a success. In addition, The Body Shop Singapore has hired around 8 HIV positive staff whom they want to keep low profile on and had classes for its employees on how to work with AIDS colleagues. This is by far a great leap forward in the Singapore society, which prefers to hush-hush on AIDS and AIDS patients, which explains for the low number of Aids positive patients coming forward to the public to create awareness. 4. Support Community Trade The Community Trade program is aimed at small producer communities around the world who supply it with accessories and natural ingredients. Fair prices help producers to take control over their own lives and allow money to go back into the community to supply basic needs such as water, health and education. The Body Shop believes that big businesses have a huge responsibility to use trade not just to make money but also to have a positive influence in the world. Their goal is to create livelihoods by sourcing ingredients and accessories from socially and economically marginalized producer communities. The Body Shop currently trades with over 42 Community Trade suppliers in more than 26 countries. Two of the longest standing suppliers, Teddy Exports in India and Get Paper Industries in Nepal have, with support from The Body Shop, set up AIDS awareness projects which now attract international funding. For such projects, The Body Shop needs to be careful not to be the only buyer from these communities. The Body Shop would not be there to help them forever, and thus we raise the question of self-sustainability by these Community Trade suppliers. In actual fact, The Body Shop’s ability to purchase from these communities depends on their customers. If the demand for, say, handicrafts from such communities by The Body Shop’s customers dropped, one doubts The Body Shop would continue to purchase them just to aid the community. If there are multiple purchasers, not only would such communities be more self-sufficient, but they would be able to demand better prices as well. The concern was raised to Grace Chang, and she assured us that The Body Shop has looked into this matter and is focused on ensuring these communities become self sufficient and not overly reliant on The Body Shop. However the group feels that while The Body Shop has been exemplary in spearheading this concept of providing a source of living hood to the marginalized people, it has failed to clarify on the principles on the amount of usage of the raw materials purchased in their products. All they have is a specific monetary target; that an undisclosed dollar amount of their raw materials will be sourced form these places. We feel that the relatively inexpensive raw materials placed The Body Shop in an advantageous situation whereby the sales of these products will provide The Body Shop with a relatively high profit due to the premium prices charged for these products. We wonder how much of their profits are being channeled back into these communities which they have purported to help. As a result, we feel that these communities may be exploited. Thus, the scale and effectiveness of The Body Shop’s direct trading projects is somehow questioned. Next, even when they do try to give such aid to the communities, there are certain regulatory hurdles, some of which could not be crossed. In an incident related to us by Grace Chang, The Body Shop International has tried to help some farmers of a certain type of plant, called hemp, in a remote part of Asia. The leaves of hemps could be made into creams and sold in The Body Shop. It was quite successful, and would have even been more so had the leaves not contain certain ingredients that could be made into marijuana. Although the creams contained only a tiny fraction of the ingredient required to manufacture marijuana, the Singapore authorities are adamant that this product do not enter our borders. A shipment from Hong Kong carrying this product was forced to turn back because of this reason. If The Body Shop International is able to take into account the individual sensitivities and regulations in the various countries like Singapore where it has a presence, its programs would be even more successful. We recommend that they should come up with a comprehensive strategy to solve such cross cultural and political issues. 5. Activate Self-Esteem The Body Shop defines self-esteem to be “…. about self-awareness, self- confidence, self-worth, and self-acceptance”. It's about respecting yourself, looking after your body and soul, and being proud of who and what you are. In 1998, The Body Shop produced 'The Body and Self Esteem', the first publication in the 'Full Voice' series. Distributed worldwide, this publication aimed to raise awareness of the issue of self-esteem and generate debate. In 1997, a campaign based on 'Ruby', a doll representing real women, was launched. In Singapore, The Body Shop supported a debate on self-esteem by the Sophia Institute - one of the few institutions in the world dedicated to promoting self-esteem. Our group trust that it is a common knowledge that The Body Shop’s clientele consists mainly of women who buy their beauty and hair products. Hence, we believe that The Body Shop’s advocacy of women issues is a clever marketing ploy and that it is a move to appeal to what their clientele can identify with. Compared to the past, more women now are provided educational and better work opportunities. Therefore, they now enjoy higher buying power and level of disposable income. By advocating women’s issues, The Body Shop is likened to be killing two birds with one stone. They could be seen to be socially responsible in educating women on positive self image as well as a means of publicity of the Body Shop products as a way to fulfilling a holistic well being experience. Consequently we feel that The Body Shop has manipulatively used claims of social concerns for pure commercial advantage. However, The Body Shop’s move to educate women on positive self-esteem issues and to stimulate debate on eating disorders and self-love should not be undermined. It has indeed generated greater awareness and education on these pressing issues of self-abuse. The Body Shop Foundation Eleven years on, The Body Shop Foundation has donated over £5 million in grants and gift-in-kind support, assisting the work of various worldwide organizations. In addition to the work, the Foundation covers UK administration costs for its two core projects; the Brazilian Healthcare Project and children on the edge. On the whole, The foundation effectively benefits the Brazilian Healthcare Project, Children on the Edge, The Maiti’s children trust, The Ogoni Foundation, The Born Free Foundation and Body & Soul. Closer to our home, The Body Shop Asia Pacific had contributed L700000 to The Body Shop International Foundation. Community Involvement Community involvement is a concept that has always been an integral part of its business. The Body Shop supports and encourages employees throughout the world to volunteer their time in local community action. The Body Shop’s community action covers a wide range of activities from conservation work to providing massages and taking part in activity sessions for blind and partially sighted people. Other CSR Initiatives In Singapore Besides those mentioned before in the report, The Body Shop Singapore had once collaborated with Singapore Sports Council (SSC) to organize a National Leisure Cycling event which was tied with the “ Save the World” campaign. Initially, SSC was against the signing of petition to “Save the World”. But they got around the problem by asking participants to go to all The Body Shops in Singapore to get a 16.90 soap free which they have to sign a petition in the shop before they get the soap. In addition, The Body Shop Asia Pacific is working with UNICEF to build playing space for children for East Timor. They chose East Timor not because it is prominent, but because they wanted to give help to where it was needed most. Some of the successful programs that The Body Shop Asia Pacific has organized so far were the recycling bins programs, AIDS awareness programs and the employment of AIDS positive staff in the company. In all of the programs mentioned above, we asked Grace Chang why The Body Shop engages itself to the implementation of such programs and why CSR is so important? We were given answers like The Body Shop truly wanting to give back to the society and helping those in need especially those in third world countries. At first glance, it may seem that The Body Shop’s motives for CSR are truly altruistic. This may be supported by two reasons. Firstly, The Body Shop is venturing into “no man’s land”, in effect, it is exploring deeper and serious social and environmental issues that most of us in developed countries often take for granted. Most companies involved in the area of CSR initiatives usually avoid these issues. Some of these issues like the AIDS programs in Singapore and world human rights programs are controversial to the society at large. Yet The Body Shop is bold enough to bring out these issues right in front of our faces, urging the compassionate side of humans to surface. Secondly, especially in conservative Singapore, The Body Shop Asia Pacific had initiated the AIDS awareness talk to businesses and the petition to “Save the World” program. This illustrates the extent of The Body Shop’s passion to “help the needy”. While it may be difficult to carry out activities in some countries because government regulations pose barriers to faster implementation of CSR initiatives, it can be avoided usually with some creative effort. Nevertheless, on a further note, it may seem that The Body Shop is actually trying to fulfill the mission statement laid out. Being an international company with stores all over the world, it has successfully build up its brand equity and awareness. The public views The Body Shop as a socially responsible business, thus the high expectations. In order not to tarnish the image built, The Body Shop has to be persistent and always on the look out for supporting or initiating social and environment issues. The Art of the Media Game While we sneered at the large posters or newspaper advertisements of how companies like Starbucks and NTUC have sponsored charities and sporting events in attempts to conduct CSR initiatives, it is interesting to note that The Body Shop does not spend money on advertising at all. When Anita Roddick first started small business in 1974, she could not on large-scale advertising. Moreover, she firmly believes that The Body Shop is not in the business of selling unattainable dreams, promising effective results for its consumers. Therefore till today, we do not see huge budget media advertising on The Body Shop’s products. This further emphasised the belief that she does not support the conventional modes of advertising and making false claims on their products being practiced by big cosmetic companies nowadays. Ironically, the bulk of so-called “advertising” comes from the wide media publicity generated from the environment, social and community activities that The Body Shop engages in. On the same note, most of these free “advertising” also came from slams about The Body Shop engaging in illegal or undesirable activities contrary to their mission statement. The reason why the group did not dig into The Body Shop’s dirty linen is because we were overwhelmed by the tremendous criticisms against them. Even so, we are not in the position to judge which is true and which we should believe. Therefore, we would attempt to analyse the CSR initiatives objectively from what we view as credible sources like the official website and Grace Chang. This brings us to a controversial point about The Body Shop’s media publicity stints, which highlights our groups overall view about the CSR initiatives though some intended to be altruistic that The Body Shop has undertaken. As we study deeper into each of the CSR initiatives undertaken internationally as well as in Singapore, we are sceptical about the altruistic element in the active involvement. The altruistic motives are dubious to a greater extent when recently its founder Anita Roddick stepped down. We therefore explore the possibility of a hidden agenda to promote the brand name of The Body Shop. There seems to be a skewed direction from what it originally stood for. The good or even the bad publicity has created a greater public awareness. Undeniably these media reports are actually The Body Shop’s use of media channels to generate publicity widely and effectively. In retrospect, it seems that such media publicity do not create such deep impressions in Singaporeans. One of the reasons we feel may be that The Body Shop Singapore does not engage in enough “reported CSR initiatives” to reflect on consumers’ mindset or that most Singaporean consumers just simply do not care about environmental, social or animal issues. Even so, we feel that The Body Shop Singapore has not done enough intensive CSR programs in Singapore. Piecing the Whole Picture The group feels strongly for the hidden agenda behind all the active involvement in the CSR initiatives despite the fact that when The Body Shop stands up for certain issues, both the company and the community benefit. It is a win-win situation. As Anita Roddick stepped down, what entails are the strategic social and environmental involvements and programs designed to establish greater brand equity and awareness. This point is further substantiated by the decrease in profits in its balance sheets over the recent years. Furthermore, the group greatly feels that CSR initiatives are not enough and relevant in Singapore even though they are bold. The Body Shop Singapore seems to give us the feeling that it is following the headquarters in Brighton with regards to the kind of activities it engages in. As we interview Singaporean consumers, The Body Shop come across to us as a profit making company instead of a socially responsible company it claims to be. Therefore, we conclude that The Body Shop is likened to have many facets; it is up to the stakeholders to see which facet they favor in their interest.
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