American Marketer


Cosmetics industry tops fashion for sustainability media impact

October 4, 2019

Stella McCartney is one of the most visible environmentally-friendly luxury labels. Image courtesy of Stella McCartney


As environmental consciousness becomes a larger consideration for contemporary consumers, the cosmetics industry has generated more conversation and media impact value around sustainability than the fashion industry.

According to data from Launchmetrics, traditional media placements contribute the most media impact value regarding sustainability for both the cosmetics and fashion sectors. Luxury brands also trail their mass-market peers in sustainability-generated media impact value.

Sustainability value
Launchmetrics’ data measures media impact value, or MIV, giving a quantitative number for the total impact of relevant media placements on all channels – online, social and print – inclusive of paid, owned and earned mentions.

In the first six months of 2019, the cosmetics industry generated $77 million in MIV compared to the fashion industry’s MIV of $40 million.

“Cruelty free,” indicating that an item was not tested on animals, is the leading sustainable term associated with cosmetics brands. The term alone generated $26.4 million in MIV.

Neiman Marcus has launched a clean beauty section. Image credit: Neiman Marcus

Vegan, meaning a product is made without animal products such as beeswax, produced about half of that MIV, $13.4 million. “Vegan beauty” had a MVI of $10 million, followed by “clean beauty” with a MIV of $4 million.

Clean beauty is becoming another key word within the personal care industry as sustainability and wellness take over in all aspects of retail. Consumers are more concerned than ever in regards to harmful chemicals in any product, but the beauty consumers as well as the luxury consumer are some of the most keen to these issues (see story).

Media placements about sustainable beauty products reached 4 billion consumers, with an engagement of 25 million.

LVMH’s Sephora generated a sustainability MIV of $3.9 million with 341,000 engagements. French cosmetics brand L’Occitane en Provence had a sustainability MIV of $1 million with 41,000 engagements.

Nearly half of cosmetics’ sustainability MIV, 49.2 percent, was generated by traditional media placements, including print. Owned media, such as brands' social media pages, produced 45.2 percent, while influencers generated less than 5 percent of MIV.

In the fashion sector, the term “sustainable fashion” alone generated almost $10 million in MIV, followed by “sustainable” and “sustainability” at a respective $5.8 and $4 million in MIV. Other valuable terms included “slow fashion,” “ethical fashion,” “recycled” and “vegan.”

Fashion’s sustainability MIV of $40 million had a reach of 6 billion with engagement of 16 million – significantly less than cosmetics’ engagement of 25 million.

Net-A-Porter Sustainability

Net Sustain features eco-friendly fashion. Image courtesy of Net-A-Porter

Stella McCartney and Salvatore Ferragamo were the only luxury labels to generate more than $1 million each in sustainable MIV, at $1.8 and $1.2 million, respectively.

Media again generated the majority of fashion’s sustainability MIV, at 63.6 percent. However, influencers and celebrities were more impactful in fashion than cosmetics, combining for 14.6 percent of MIV.

The United States was the top country for MIV, regarding sustainability in both cosmetics and fashion.

Eco-friendly marketing
Although luxury brands have become more vocal about their sustainability practices, they are not engaging with environmentally-conscious consumers to their full extent.

Forty-five percent of respondents reported that it is challenging to know which fashion companies are truly committed to sustainability, according to a report from Nosto. Six in 10 consumers also believe that brands can be more effective in promoting sustainably-made clothing (see story).

As the Launchmetrics report explains, supply chain processes are the most environmentally-damaging aspects of the fashion and cosmetics industries.

As a result, a growing number of luxury firms are launching carbon-neutral initiatives in an effort to boost their green goals.

In September, Kering joined brands including Porsche and Gabriela Hearst that have established carbon offset programs and promises.

Carbon offsetting is the process of calculating the environmental impact of activities such as production, transportation and packaging. The carbon footprint that is generated is assigned a financial figure, which is then donated to ecological causes (see story).