Seven million people have joined the fight to end cosmetic animal testing. As The Body Shop becomes UKSSD’s 90th Partner, Jessie Macneil-Brown shares how business and civil society can work together to harness consumers’ voices to support SDG12

Responsible production and consumption is at the heart of The Body Shop’s DNA. We were founded on the philosophy that business should be a force for good and for forty two years our business has been driven by this ethos. Every day we strive to ensure that the production and consumption of our products are sustainable and that rather than just mitigating or reducing negative impacts, our business has a positive impact on the environment and our communities.

There are many ways that The Body Shop contributes to responsible production and consumption.  Underpinning our business is our CSR strategy Enrich Not Exploit™, which is made up of 14 targets to enrich our people, planet and products by 2020.

Campaigning with our customers is in our history

In 1989, The Body Shop was the first international beauty brand to take a stand on the issue of animal testing in cosmetics. We have always believed passionately that no animals should be harmed to make cosmetic products and this is a commitment we are famous for. When we started campaigning, many thought we were mad for taking on the entire cosmetic industry on an issue that very few thought we would be able to influence. However, our customers and colleagues were just as passionate about this issue as we were and through their tenacious efforts and in partnership with Cruelty Free International, we campaigned successfully to end cosmetic animal testing in the UK and then the EU.

The Body Shop has a long history of campaigning with our customers and civil society partners to drive legislative change and this is why we believe consumers will be critical to the success of SDG 12.

Consumer attitudes and increased demand for sustainable and ethical products has the power to shape global production patterns and approaches. In fact in the beauty industry we are already seeing the majority of companies, large and small, respond to this demand.

Millennials in particular are leading the charge for more sustainable and responsible products. This is significant as they will make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020 and according to a recent report, 85% of US Millennials claim to buy responsible products wherever possible.

We also know that cruelty-free products are a big selling point for millennials. The worldwide cruelty-free beauty market is expected to reach US$20.8 billion by 2025 and the shift to these products is being driven by consumer demand. Not only because animal testing is regarded as unethical but because millennials have growing concerns about health and safety and this is bringing sustainability to the fore in their purchasing decisions. 

For five years there has been no cosmetic animal testing in the EU and because of this courageous decision we have seen what started as a moral decision turn into an attractive business case

The EU Cosmetics market has grown 8%, it is currently worth £75 billion and provides 2 million jobs. The demand for cruelty free cosmetics shows no signs of slowing down and is predicted to continue to grow at 6.1% over the next 6 years.

According to a recent report, vegan and cruelty-free are two of the biggest issues for customers in 2018. The number of vegans has quadrupled in the UK in the past 10 years and vegan prestige beauty products in the UK have achieved a 38% sales rise in a 12 month period ending this past January.

However this business case doesn’t just benefit the cosmetics industry; the science and technology sectors have enjoyed rapid growth and innovation since the changes in EU policy. Non-animal tests are now becoming the mainstream. They are more efficient, reliable, quicker and often cheaper than animal tests.

Unfortunately despite this positive change, 80% of countries still allow cosmetic animal testing. And this is where we feel there is a big opportunity to use consumer demand to drive policy change. Last year The Body Shop and Cruelty Free International launched our campaign, Forever Against Animal Testing, calling for an end to cosmetic animal testing globally.

Barely 14 months since we launched the campaign, we reached 7 million signatures for our petition. The campaign has been featured in all of our stores globally, on all our websites, social media channels and promoted by our direct sales consultants. The Body Shop stores teams and customers all around the world have been passionately campaigning and raising awareness of this issue. We’ve done this in a positive, empowering and fun way. We even enlisted the support of some of our pet heroes to spread the message, as seen on screens in Times Square recently.

In Canada, our team has collected more signatures than any other petition in the past 70 years and our store managers have been meeting with their local MPs, calling for an end to cosmetic animal testing in their country. This has created incredible momentum in their Parliament with a bill recently being passed by the Senate and sent to the commons for approval.

The success of our Forever Against Animal Testing campaign demonstrates the power and potential of consumers to drive real industry and policy change. Millions of consumer-citizens around the world are already choosing to use their purchasing power for sustainability, buying products that aren’t tested on animals as part of the sustainable lifestyle they want to live.

It’s time to harness consumer power to help deliver SDG 12. Transformative change will be driven by consumers through ethical purchasing and by values-driven businesses that respond to this demand, this is likely to cover a range of issues and has been demonstrated by the recent responses to public pressure regarding single use plastics and coffee cups here in the UK. But it’s going to take a collective effort to get there.

You can sign our petition at www.foreveragainstanimaltesting.com

Jessie Macneil-Brown is Head of Global Campaigns at The Body Shop. You can find out more about their work to end animal testing here.