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By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

September 6, 2022 | 7 min read

The Drum catches up with Laura Keane, global brand development director at The Body Shop, on how it is trying to change the narrative on its anti-aging products.

‘Drops of Youth’ is one of The Body Shop’s best-selling skincare ranges. Its serum is the bestselling product overall, with a bottle sold every 20 seconds around the world. But now it is rebranding to Edelweiss as part of a concerted effort by the company to move away from harmful branding that promotes ‘anti-aging.’

Leading the change is Laura Keane, The Body Shop’s global brand development director. She says culturally there is a shift in the ways in which brands market products and solutions around women aging. “We really wanted to take a strong stance that goes against what’s been the norm within the beauty industry, because as a big, global brand we have a responsibility to do that for our customers,” she explains.

The Body Shop had already begun to tackle beauty norms with its ‘Self Love’ campaign, which ran last year and “was a pivotal moment to the big rejuvenation we’re doing at The Body Shop to make women feel good about themselves in an industry that can sometimes encourage women to be negative about themselves,” says Keane.

This was backed by research that found that women feel the nature of the beauty industry has negative impacts on their perception of self-worth, and this was largely down to things such as airbrushing and unrealistic claims.

“This was really a catalyst to encourage us to look at our portfolio and see where we could improve the creative and the language – not just the images we put out, but what our products do and what they are named.”

The overhaul to the Drops of Youth range is happening on two fronts, “the first being the formulation change making the product better,” which has then informed the branding.

In line with The Body Shop’s B-corp certification and commitment to sustainability, “we’ve increased its naturality so it’s now 90% from natural origins, it’s more sustainable from a packaging perspective and we’ve doubled the quantities of edelweiss, which is a key ingredient,” says Keane.

“The fact is, we’re changing it from a purpose perspective ... so the cherry on top is it’s all vegan certified, which is the next step in our journey to animal welfare.”

Keane also says that it was the bumped-up quantities of edelweiss as a key ingredient that inspired the range’s rejuvenation. “It has incredible antioxidant properties that fight environmental aggressors such as pollution and blue light, which is so key for our demographic today of women living in urban environments.

“So the way the narrative has changed is super important. Using edelweiss as a key ingredient really delivers on this key demand, not around making you look younger or eradicating fine lines, but strengthening your skin and making it more resilient, which is a lot more empowering.”

For the campaign itself, Keane says The Body Shop took a different stance from the ones it has traditionally in the past – this time choosing to visually “showcase the ingredient.”

“Edelweiss grows high in the mountains in Switzerland and it’s extremely hardy, withstanding all kinds of winds and temperatures. The acid it produces to protect itself is what’s included in our product, so we’re really trying to educate around that.”

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This language of resilience is what has provided the basic marketing element for the ad, which features a cast of women sharing their own stories of facing and overcoming adversity. “We wanted to make the link between having resilience in your skin and having resilience in your life as empowering qualities.”

Going forward, Keane says The Body Shop wants to apply this kind of body-positive and ingredient-focused positioning across its portfolio. “The goal is always to stay true to our purpose and [encourage] men and women throughout their lifecycle to find products at The Body Shop.”

She says this is firmly in line with the purpose under which founder Anita Roddick created the brand. “She was the ultimate agent of change, and with every project we are wondering what she would do and how she would frame it.

“It started last year with ‘Self Love’ and our iconic body butters ... really highlighting the ingredients as well as a message of empowerment, and that’s something we’re going to continue to do.”

The emphasis on skin protection is also going to feature in its marketing much more in the coming years. “In the situation we find ourselves in with climate change and global warming, it will affect how [people] look after their skin,” Keane says.

“All the trend forecasts we’ve seen say that skincare will only continue to grow as a category over the next five years, and this is down to the changing environment we find ourselves in and the desire to protect ourselves from it.

“It’s a growing concern and something that The Body Shop has the products and innovations to answer.”

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