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The challenges of sustainable skincare brands

By Florencia Alvarez, Senior project manager



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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August 27, 2019 | 6 min read

It is not an absolute novelty that organic, vegan and cruelty-free brands are the boom of the moment. In fact, last year was the eighth year of consecutive growth and, with people increasingly aware of the importance of being kind to the planet, its use becomes more of a necessity than an option. And it’s not too much to say that consumers buy based on trust, sustainability and benefits to the environment.


Wilderness consider the sustainability of some beauty brands, including Goop.

According to a Mintel research, “42% of UK consumers buy natural and organic personal care products because they believe they are better for the environment.” By the end of 2019, with the number of consumers buying natural products doubled, are you sure you are reaching emerging consumers correctly through social media?

1- The rise of well-being products

Being aware of what we consume has become one of the pillars for those who want to improve their quality of life. Anti-pollution and self-care are the top priorities for an audience that is increasing year to year. Traditional notions of beauty are a matter of the past and substitutes are approaching the conscious audience. The challenge is not only to create plant-based or vegan products, but to clarify this in the label or social media.

American actress Gwyneth Paltrow launched Goop by Juice Beauty in 2016 with a clear message of her brand statement - an all natural line of products including an eye cream, moisturizer and a face cleanser. To prove how natural the products were she visited Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show and both dipped French fries into the new moisturizer and ate it in a transparent demonstration of the product virtues.

The American brand Drunk Elephant has a ‘Clean compatible’ proclamation that stands their social media strategy. While clean means they use only biocompatible ingredients that skin can recognize, accept and process, being compatible means the compromise on safety and formulate using biocompatible ingredients. Their social strategy varies from showing in real life what you can get from regular use through user generated photos or quotes.

2- Standing out for a cause

A brand is a lot more than the products you sell, it’s about your values and the causes you support too. Millennial consumers are more likely to interact with brands that have a clear purpose. Is your brand conscious of environmental issues? Then show what you do to help combat climate change. Is your brand cruelty-free? Make sure you state this in your values. Will your plastic packaging be reusable, recyclable or compostable? Don’t miss the opportunity to mention this to your audience, in your social media, your website and the packaging itself.

REN skincare is a brand doing it great. The skincare brand has the commitment to respect the skin and the planet, and this is clear in all their social media strategy. From encouraging followers to refill their bottles to promoting events through the #CleantoPlanet hashtag, their goal to position as a sustainable brand is perfectly achieved.

3- Being transparent

Millennials represent 39% of the population worldwide and have grown up knowing how we had damaged the environment and how the future of the planet depends on the conscious choices we make moving forward. Millenials and Gen Z are constantly looking for ethical brands who show clarity around labelling and the production process, but are also transparent of their supply chain.

Herbivore Botanicals are using social in a unique way, putting the audience first and being transparent with the values they support: synthetic free, certified vegan, cruelty free. Combined with product information, how to’s and recommendations it adds value to the customer while remaining lighthearted and fun.

4- Amplifying through the power of influence

The power of influencers to help to create a link between a brand and social media has no limits, and beauty brands should take advantage of this. Well-known personalities in the beauty sector can promote products and capitalise the collective support of the brand. Partnering with an influencer is a fantastic way of reaching out to their audience -their ultimate objective is to raise awareness of your brand.

Finding a trustworthy micro or macro influencer is a real challenge in a collapsed industry. Giving them a creative freedom to create the content, imagery and execute the campaign will secure that is in line with their other content, therefore you will have more possibilities to drive the campaign objectives.

A fantastic example of creating varied and engaging content that resonates with their target audience perfectly and uses the power of influencers are Glossier, the make-up and skincare start-up. The Social team position the brand as consumers best friend and combine both stylised studio content and raw UGC (you just need 10,000 followers to be considered an influencer today) to give the audience the full Glossier lifestyle. In the words of its founder, Emily Weiss, “something we’ve always stayed very true to, since pre-launch, day one, is that every single person is an influencer.”

Florencia Alvarez, Senior project manager at Wilderness.


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