In The Economist, February 18th-24th, 2017
Growing up, the Linguini loved going into two main shops in my town: The Body Shop, to look at and take a whiff of the beautiful soaps and bubble baths, and the furniture shop I cannot remember the name of, but I loved trying out all the different comfy chairs à la Goldie Locks. The Body Shop in particular, had the revolutionary, fresh scent flown in from exciting faraway countries abroad. For a newly committed 12 year old animal rights activist, it was a promising source of non-animal-tested shampoos.
In the pre-internet days it was more difficult to keep up with new products on the market and so visits to the physical shop were required, transforming The Body Shop into a political activism locus where fellow animal rights supporters would gather. As the report in the Economist suggests, from the start, the Body Shop was at the forefront of not simply business, but representing an ethical one on two fronts: animal testing and exploitation in the poor world.
Today, however, according to the article, the Body Shop’s revenues increased by only 0.6%, falling by 4.8% . The reasons for this, it is claimed, are partly that the Body Shop’s stand against animal testing and ethical consumerism is white noise in what is now mainstream. However, I would like to argue that while it is true that the products the Body Shop offers are no longer novel making the company less distinctive, the aspect of animal testing is far from an established fact. The Body Shop is a high-end brand and sadly, most luxury cosmetic brands still test on animals. Try going into Debenham’s (a high street department store in the UK) where all the offered brands are animal-tested.
The cause for the downfall of the Body Shop, I suggest, is the residue of a trust crisis that began after the company was sold to L’Oréal, now the parent company. (Whether the company tests on animals or not is debatable). Abandoning its strong activist position and selling out their ideals left the Body Shop customers with distrust, which has not been dispelled since. (At least not for the Linguini). With Lush combining anti-fracking, anti-animal testing campaigns with luscious vegan bubble bath, why return to the Body Shop?
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