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Sustainability alone will not be enough for consumers to change their shopping habits and products must “deliver for the consumer, first and foremost,” according to Adrien Koskas, global brand president at cosmetics label Garnier.

“We conduct a survey every year about how people are committed to sustainability,” Adrien Koskas told CNBC’s “Marketing, Media, Money.”

“We actually interviewed 30,000 people in nine different countries and 83% of people want to be more sustainable every day, which is really a big number, but only 5% are actively sustainable day to day,” he added.

Garnier, which is part of the L’Oreal Group, was founded in France in 1904 by Alfred Amour Garnier and is now one of the world’s biggest beauty brands. Koskas told CNBC that the brand understands that sustainability can be an overwhelming topic for many people who don’t know where they can begin to make a difference.

“This is why we are partnering with National Geographic, for example, to create content to educate people, actually 250 million people, on how to become more sustainable every day. How to recycle your beauty products, how to use less water in a beauty routine, and we think it’s a great mission for us and really helps the consumers in this green quest,” Koskas said.

The global brand recently launched the “first ever mass market no rinse conditioner” which, it says, saves 100 liters of water per tube compared to a traditional wash-out conditioner. It also says that the product’s packaging contains 75% less plastic than traditional conditioners and is made in a carbon-neutral factory using a water loop, to re-use any water needed in its production.

Garnier has set sustainability targets, with some set for as early as 2025, but Koskas remains confident they can be met.  “We are confirming those objectives today. We have very clear KPIs that we track every other month with my team, we regroup, we look at the conception, we have a recycled plastic because we want to have zero virgin plastic by 2025,” he said.

Garnier is also keen to encourage others to join them on their sustainability mission through their “One Green Step” initiative across its social media.

For everyone who shares its “One Green Step” video, Garnier is committing to recycle five bottles of plastic, and if people share their own “green steps” and how they are making a difference themselves, the brand will recycle ten bottles of plastic.

Garnier hopes the “snowball effect” of sharing will encourage people to become more sustainable.

Asked how the brand’s sustainability initiatives have affected its profitability, Koskas told CNBC:

You know, we don’t look at sustainability and profit like that. For us, it’s what we have to do is the right thing to do and we don’t count, you know, how much it costs. We look at what is the right thing to do, and how can we afford it.”

Garnier’s earnings results are reported as part of L’Oreal’s larger consumer products division, and a look back over the past few years shows a fairly steady operating profit. As a percentage of sales, the unit saw profits of 20% back in 2017, which rose to 20.4% in 2020 before falling to 20.2% last year.

Koskas says this is only the beginning for the brand’s sustainability ambitions.

“At Garnier we really want to become the most sustainable beauty brand in the world. 

I think we’ve started well with the green beauty commitments we have, but it’s only the beginning. We’re very humble. We need to do more, we want to do more,” he said.

“I think Garnier can play a key role in the industry to really change what beauty is about and to make it a very sustainable category and push further out, you know, how much we can engage with our consumers on this topic all around the world.”


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