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Mission-driven brands seek to answer consumer demands for businesses as a force for good

Beauty brands are answering demands to do more than sell products.
Nora Caley
sustainable beauty teaser

It’s important to look good and to do good. Consumers like to buy from companies that have philanthropic missions and advocate for certain issues. Beauty brands that partner with nonprofits or develop their own initiatives as a force for good can benefit from customer loyalty and increased sales. For purpose-driven beauty brands, the key is to work with a cause that shoppers deem important and matches the brand’s messaging. 

According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, a survey by Edelman Data & Intelligence, people want more business engagement with various issues: 52% say business is not doing enough on climate change, and 49% said business is not doing enough on economic inequality. 

Beauty brands are answering demands to do more than sell products. “Customers are looking for community and a sense of shared ‘power for good’ that a purpose-driven brand can provide,” said Psyche Terry, founder and CEO of UI Global Brands. “You’ll even find that customers don’t say ‘shop’ or ‘buy from.’ They use words like ‘support’ and ‘help.’”

Since 2016, the Plano, Texas-based company, which makes Urban Hydration products, has partnered with WATERisLIFE and donates water to a community that does not have easy access to drinking water. “Hydrating skin and hydrating communities just felt right,” Terry said. “We have since raised enough funds to contribute to the building of two clean drinking water wells in communities in Kenya and are now aiming to construct our own well in Kenya.” 

Closer to home, Urban Hydration made a $50,000 scholarship pledge to help college juniors get through the graduation process, and takes kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to movies, pumpkin patches and to get haircuts for back to school. The efforts reflect a larger movement in the beauty industry. “We started as a mission-driven company, and we are elated to see so many historic brands take an interest in serving and giving back,” Terry said. “Mission driven is here to stay.” 

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For some brands, the mission is to update ideas surrounding beauty. “Inclusion such as age, race, gender or lived experience has defined the current expression of modern beauty,” said Yamit Sadok, vice president of marketing for Twinlab Consolidation Corporation. 

Among the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company’s family of brands is Reserveage, which, Sadok said, is led by a diverse team of talented women. The brand’s mission is to help women from every background feel beautifully healthy inside and out, at every life stage. “We really believe that what makes a woman unique is also what makes her beautiful,” Sadok said. “We want to redefine the way we approach beauty with original product lines, a holistic mindset and a purpose-filled mission.”

Empowering women is a mission at Cantu Beauty. The Stamford, Conn.-based company partners with Gyrl Wonder, offering career development, mentorship and mental wellness to young women of color. “While our business was born out of promoting inclusivity and meeting the hair care needs of people who historically were underserved, we’re thinking beyond products when it comes to finding ways to impact the lives of our consumers,” said Cantu's global head of marketing, Dametria Kinsley. “Focusing on building the leaders of tomorrow and supporting new entrepreneurs is how we elevate visibility and representation, ultimately bringing value and creating change within our communities.”

Cantu also has joined forces with Women Empowering Nations, which provides mentorship and professional development to girls of color from marginalized communities. “Our continuous goal as a brand is understanding what our audience needs and showing up for them as best as we can to meet those needs,” Kinsley said. 

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“Consumers are looking for brands to be more socially responsible.” — Juan Morillo, marketing director, Xtreme Beauty.

Sustainability focus 

Sustainability is a huge topic now, and Unilever brand Love Beauty and Planet has a goal of making 100% of its ingredients biodegradable by 2030, minimizing the impact on water and aquatic ecosystems. The challenge is that while consumers want eco-friendly items, they also expect the products to be effective. 

“We need to make sustainable products work as well as, if not better than, the ones not working with a mission toward being kinder to the planet,” said Sonika Malhotra, chief marketing officer, U.S. Hair Care at Unilever, and co-founder of Love Beauty and Planet. “The urge to do better for the planet remains. We need to make it easy for the consumers to make that choice.”

One way to make it easy for consumers to buy mission-driven products is to make them affordable. “With continued pressure on household budgets, providing access to purpose-driven, clean beauty products at an affordable price is the most important trend right now,” said Michael Marquis, CEO of Raw Sugar Living. The Sarasota, Fla.-based brand makes clean, premium products and supports Eco-Soap Bank, which employs women to recycle soap from manufactures and provide it to developing countries. 

The work of purpose-driven brands is likely to continue. “Consumers are looking for brands to be more socially responsible,” said Juan Morillo, marketing director for Miami Gardens, Fla.-based Xtreme Beauty, which makes the OKAY Naturals line of products. “The future is bright for mission-driven beauty brands who stay true to their values. Once the mission is stated, brands must follow through, be consistent and persistent.”

Product Picks 

Cantu — Guava & Ginger Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
SRP: $5.97
The shampoo clarifies the scalp to eliminate dandruff and dry scalp irritation and is formulated with a unique blend of guava, ginger, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and menthol, to remove product buildup. Zinc pyrithione uses antibacterial properties to stop dandruff at the source, relieve dry, itchy scalp, and promote hair growth. 

Love Beauty and Planet — Plant-Based Body Washes
SRP: $7.49 for a 20-oz. bottle
The reintroduced body washes now have 100% biodegradable formulas with plant-based cleansers infused with vitamin C, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. The washes are cruelty free, and the bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic. To promote the launch, the brand partnered with actress Diane Guerrero to announce a $50,000 donation to Mujeres De La Tierra, a Latina-owned organization that works toward making their local communities cleaner, greener and more beautiful. 

Urban Hydration — Hand Cream Collection
SRP: $4.99
The hand creams help refresh dry skin, remove dead skin cells, support the body’s natural collagen production to brighten skin tone, and reduce the appearance of dark spots and age lines. 

Lemon extract improves the luster of dull skin, and vitamin B-rich vanilla extract protects skin from environmental aging factors. Coconut oil moisturizes and keeps skin soft, and the product is sulfate, paraben, dye and silicone free. 

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