Pankaj Sharma & Zeenia Bastani on Garnier India’s sustainability efforts to promote ‘Green Beauty’

Garnier Green Beauty

In conversation with Social Samosa, L’Oréal India’s Pankaj Sharma and Garnier’s Zeenia Bastani talk at length about the Garnier Green Beauty initiative and why CSR stands tall amidst all the marketing stints.

Garnier claims to have been committed to sustainability for years, producing more natural formulas, using sustainable and fair-trade ingredients, even being the first to bring certified organic products to the mass skincare market. With the launch of its sustainability program Garnier Green Beauty, Garnier aims to go further, to shift the way the beauty industry operates and lead the change for all of us. We get in touch with Pankaj Sharma, Director, Consumer Products Division, L’Oréal India, and Zeenia Bastani, General Manager, Garnier India, to know more about the initiative and how the brand plans to harness the power of social media to amplify the message further.

All About ‘Garnier Green Beauty’

The events of the last year have led to more awareness and conversations over the impact we, as people, are having on the planet and a changed attitude towards environmental issues. This is evident from the Garnier commissioned an international survey that found that over 90% of Indian consumers want to be more sustainable and a substantial percent of them expect brands to facilitate this. Their awareness amplifies the intent and core thought of this program.

Zeenia Bastani shares, “To amplify our message, we are creating a community of our consumers and supporters who can take this journey with us. We have put together a group of sustainability warriors called The Garnier Green Tribe which is led by our brand ambassador John Abraham who will drive this advocacy for us through social media conversations.”

Implementing Product Environmental & Social Impact Labelling tool

Through Product Environmental & Social Impact Labelling tool, Garnier aims to inform consumers on their products’ environmental and social impact, empowering them to make more sustainable and informed choices. Bastani notes that given the rising consciousness among consumers and them expecting more from the brands they use, the brand believes this tool will partner their journey towards living a more sustainable life, taking small steps towards a cleaner, greener planet; while simultaneously building a more transparent and trusting relationship with them.

Supporting Causes- investment & marketing inventory

“Sustainability is embedded in our core business model and we don’t see the two as mutually exclusive,” says Pankaj Sharma.

L’Oreal (the parent company of Garnier) has announced a €150 million fund to support vulnerable women and protect the environment. A €50 million charitable endowment fund will support organizations that support highly vulnerable women, the first victims of the social and economic crisis generated by the pandemic. €100 million will be dedicated to environmental impact investing and the regeneration of damaged natural ecosystems and efforts to prevent climate change.

He adds, “L’Oréal has been leading the journey towards sustainability, globally, for many years now. While it is heartening to see more brands have a purpose, the key is in creating a purpose that truly ties in with what they do. At L’Oréal, we have defined a sense of purpose for ourselves – Create the beauty that moves the world – which impacts each and every aspect of our business.”

Garnier has previously helmed many  CSR campaigns like ‘power light a village’. How, as a beauty brand, Garnier aims to stand by ‘causes’? “Garnier MEN Powerlight a Village was an initiative that was ahead of its time when we launched it in 2013. Garnier gave its consumers the opportunity to participate in a movement that will help the electrification of lightless villages across India using solar power. The main premise of the ‘PowerLight A Village’ campaign was that every action made online was translated into actual energy donation on – ground in the village. Instead of apathetically urging people to take action, we made the action easy,” Bastani shares.

According to her, every like share and comment across the Garnier Men social media platforms contributed a pre-determined unit of energy to underserved rural areas.

Also Read: #SSWellnessWatch Kavita Angre on L’Oréal India navigating offline experience through online

Creating the Garnier Tribe the social way

Garnier Green Beauty, as per the company, is a way of bringing together its commitments and ensuring it is focused on improving every aspect of the value chain.

John Abraham has been associated with Garnier for over a decade. Bastani comments, “He is not just a face of the brand, but truly a partner in our journey. He himself is an advocate for greener, cleaner living and therefore makes for a perfect choice to lead the Garnier Green Tribe for us. His appeal among a cross-section of consumers and his lifestyle choices are aligned to what Green Beauty is and therefore creates authenticity for the community we are building.”

For Green Beauty, Garnier India has brought together the Green Tribe which is made up of real champions on the field of sustainability. These people are influencers who have been driving the sustainability agenda with their followers for some time now and have come on board to be the voice of the campaign.

She adds, “It is not about using influencers for the sake of using influencers but really bringing on board credible voices who believe in what we are doing and committing to.”

On social media, there were various teaser posters launched before the revealing of the initiave and the campaign was supported by influencers supporting and promoting Green Beauty in their own little way.

“At L’Oréal, we believe social is not just a medium, but an enabler in deepening and enhancing consumer journeys and connect. The last year has only accelerated activity on this medium, and L’Oréal has used this consumer shift effectively to build a more engaged community,” asserts Sharma. 

While the company has used social media apps for occasion-based marketing, like Diwali or Valentine’s day, amplifying it’s marquee events like L’Oréal Paris Fashion Week and Maybelline New York Fashion Week on Instagram, or delivering a much richer social media experience for it’s consumers through education, use of VR/AR tools DIY sessions etc.;

Sharma says further, “Our efforts and impact in using the power of this medium towards social causes is what has really excited us. For example, late last year we launched the L’Oréal Paris initiative against street harassment – Stand Up – and leveraged social media to drive trainings for the program, we saw immense support from our social community in helping us drive this. This year too, our Garnier Green Tribe is using social media to create the Green Tribe and drive adoption of more sustainable habits and choices.”

Tracking the ‘BIG IMPACT’

The Garnier Green Beauty initiative will present an annual global Sustainability Progress Report, offering complete transparency on Garnier’s commitments. The report can be tracked publicly via the Garnier website and states where Garnier stands today, mapping out the process of how the brand will reach its ambitious 2025 targets.

Bastani shares that this progress report provides a clear and trackable summary of Garnier’s commitments, enlisting work that has been completed with the help of experts and scientists, and is audited by a third party.

L’Oreal for Future- The Way Forward

For Sharma, while it is heartening to see more brands have a purpose, the key is in creating a purpose that truly ties in with what they do. “At L’Oréal we have defined a sense of purpose for ourselves – Create the beauty that moves the world – which impacts each and every aspect of our business,” he elucidates.

L’Oréal for the Future is a program that has been created seeing the growing need for social and environmental responsibility. Sharma states that it is not a response to the pandemic but was accelerated by it.

The pandemic, however, has also accelerated consumers expectations from the brands they support to address social and environmental issues and are paying attention to a brand’s social responsibility efforts when making a purchase.

“We don’t see this as a phase, but as a significant milestone in the consumer journey and further strengthens our commitment and resolve towards the L’Oréal for the Future program. With this program we want to partner their journey and Garnier will be the first brand to introduce the Product Environmental & Social Impact Labelling tool. The aims to empower consumers with information and transparency to make the sustainable choices they seek,” Sharma concludes.