The world’s largest cosmetics company lines up an ambitious set of sustainability goals. Will consumers buy them?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So runs the age-old adage. But is it true? That depends on context. Take two shades of lip gloss: one raspberry sorbet, say, the other strawberry cocktail. At an aesthetic level, their respective merits are indeed for every person to decide.

Yet, seen in a different context, perceptions may shift. What if one of the two products is made from natural products and the other from petroleum-derived materials? What if the raspberry isn’t raspberry at all, but a chemical compound with dubious implications for human health? Suddenly, beauty shifts into a more objective, more tangible sphere, where different grades of “beauty” can be distinguished.

For a global cosmetics industry, the issue of what comprises real, authentic beauty is an intriguing one. And it’s one that global cosmetics brand L’Oréal now finds itself grappling with.

Redefining beauty

As far as conventional perceptions of beauty go, the Paris-based manufacturer of skin and hair care products, fragrances and make-up has had more than a century to perfect its approach. Iconic names such as Giorgio Armani Beauty, Saint Laurent Paris and Lancôme are among its portfolio of brands. With sales of €16.5bn for the first nine months of...

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Responsible Business Summit Europe 2015

May 2015, London, United Kingdom

Europe’s leading meeting place for corporate leaders delivering sustainable business. 12+ C-Suite and over 300 attendees will address some of the key issues and opportunities, including: sustainable innovation, collaboration, and resource efficiency and brand strategies

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