Award Winning Case - Third prize in the Oikos sustainability case writing competition 2007, organized by University of St. Gallen, Oikos foundation for economy and ecology, Switzerland

The Body Shop: Social Responsibility or Sustained Greenwashing?

The Body Shop: Social Responsibility or Sustained Greenwashing?
Case Code: BECG067
Case Length: 25 Pages
Period: 2002-2006
Pub Date: 2006
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: The Body Shop International Plc.
Industry: Beauty Care, Cosmetics
Countries: UK, Europe, USA
Themes: Corporate Social Responsibility
The Body Shop: Social Responsibility or Sustained Greenwashing?
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


Body Shop's CSR Initiatives

Body Shop did not test its cosmetic products on animals and did not commission others to do it on its behalf, as it considered this practice unethical. Along with customers and animal protection groups, Body Shop campaigned for a change in the law on the testing of animals for cosmetics purposes in the UK, Europe, the Netherlands, Germany, and Japan. Its campaigns had some major successes. In 1996, Body Shop presented the European Union with a petition signed by over 4,000,000 people, which at the time was the largest petition against animal testing. Body Shop was also instrumental in the UK government's decision in 1998 to ban animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients...


Though the company had a distinguished record as a pioneer of corporate responsibility, it had its fair share of critics. From the 1990s, Body Shop faced increased scrutiny regarding its activities and claims. Business ethics expert Jon Entine (Entine) was one of Body Shop's fiercest critics. Entine accused Body Shop and its founders of being hypocrites, as in his opinion, they were preying on the idealism of consumers, while not being any different from other companies in their pursuit of profit...

Body Shop's Response

Body Shop clarified that the acquisition by L'Oreal would not dilute its ethical stance and that it would continue its position on anti-animal testing. Body Shop spokesman Bill Eyres said, "It has been agreed that all our values are ring-fenced and we will continue to apply our animal testing policy...

L'oréal Buying CSR?

Some analysts felt that the acquisition was an attempt by L'Oréal to buy CSR. They cited other instances when major multinational corporations bought up smaller, model ethical corporations such as Unilever's acquisition of Ben and Jerry's, The Coca Cola Company's buyout of Odwalla, Colgate-Palmolive Company's takeover of Tom's of Maine, and Dean Foods' acquisition of Horizon Organics. Critics argued that these "model"corporations would find it difficult to continue the good work under their new parent...


Some analysts felt that L'Oreal did not share the principles of Body Shop and that this acquisition had removed the biggest supporter of ethically-sourced beauty care products from the market. Despite the assurance to the contrary, Body Shop might not be able to function autonomously. They pointed out that already five members of the board, namely Peggy Bruzelius, Howard Mann, Jack Keenan, Irene Miller and Gordon, had resigned, and were replaced by former L'Oréal UK chief Tom Vyner and current L'Oréal CEO Jean-Paul Agon, along with four others...


Exhibit I: Body Shop's Mission Statement
Exhibit II: Body Shop's Values
Exhibit III: Awards Won by Anita Roddick*
Exhibit IV: Key Financials of the Body Shop*
Exhibit V: Leaflet Released by MCspotlight and Greenpeace UK
Exhibit VI (A): Backlash against Body Shop
Exhibit VI (B): Backlash against Body Shop

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