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How The Body Shop Is Reviving Its U.S. Presence Through Activism And Sustainable Store Concepts


The Body Shop GM, Andrea Blieden, discusses leaning into the brand's heritage as a revolutionary, female-founded co, cultivating activist and sustainability measures to connect with values-driven millennials in a competitive, indie-saturated beauty market

In Brief:

  • Andrea Blieden, the U.S. GM of The Body Shop, worked in fashion until a leap of faith brought her to the beauty industry. Now, she's the brand's youngest female executive in the U.S.
  • To connect with the brand's roots and distinguish The Body Shop in a crowded field of corporate and indie competitors, Blieden is leaning into sustainability.
  • In conversation with PSFK, Blieden discusses reaching younger consumers, expanding the brand's refillable concept stores and forging partnerships with green organizations.

PSFK: Tell me about the process of re-establishing The Body Shop as a leader in the beauty industry. How are you doing it?

Andrea Blieden: We're still very much on the journey. I would say this is by far the most competitive beauty market. If we're going to stand for something in the activism space—instead of it being a message buried in our store—how can that become our windows, take over our ecommerce, become all of our digital marketing?

How do we stand for those messages much more loudly, and how do we get really clear on those messages? That is a big part of our focus. In the next year, you'll see a lot more of that, where we take a much bolder stance on our activism issues.

The Body Shop

Who are you targeting with these moves?

Certain customers are going to buy into a brand because of its values and what it stands for. The millennial audience is one that cares much more about a brand's proposition as the primary entry, and then about having a good product. I think that in the next couple of years, that's going to be a brand's price of entry. They're going to have to use cleaner ingredients. They're going to have to be more transparent. They're going to have to be more sustainable.

How will The Body Shop deliver on sustainability?

Sustainability and showing that you think differently about what we're sending you home with is so, so crucial. The Body Shop just became B Corp‑certified, and it's a huge win for us to be part of a very select group of companies that think about the bottom line differently.

For us, it's telling our consumers that we care, that what you take home is not going to impact the earth—or if you take care of it in the right way, the impact will be a lot lower. I think it's also the transparency. We're 100% vegetarian, and a lot of our products are vegan.

Describe your partnership with Plastics for Change. How does that fit into your strategy?

It's an incredibly exciting initiative. It's really up to brands to think about how we deal with this situation, not just in the future, but today. Plastics for Change is one of the ways that we're innovating. This plastic exists today—it's not going anywhere. But here's how we can make use of it and do something differently, do something better for the environment.

The point is that we are giving woman in India a steady pay, and we're paying a premium and giving these women a chance to contribute at a totally different level than they've ever been able to, and support their communities and families.

The Body Shop

You recently launched a store in the U.K. with a refill center and activist zone. Do you have any similar plans in North America?

We have two stores launching next year with the concept. The goal is that we get to a place where the majority of our fleet has it, but those initiatives take years to accomplish.

What I'm trying to do is take some of the key elements and figure out how we can sell them to many more stores. Two stores in the U.S. are locked down fully. Right now, the resale fill station is for two types of shower gels. The goal is that we launch more variety, and also other products that can be refilled.

What are your plans for the future? How do you hope The Body Shop will continue to evolve to meet consumer demand?

We are so right for the younger generations in terms of what we stand for, who our founder was and our stance on activism. One of the ways we will know that we have moved in the right direction is when the younger generation is much more aware of The Body Shop and who we are. Next year is our year to think about how we approach marketing differently, how we break the mold of more traditional beauty brands and how we do things in a Body Shop way.

Lead image: Toa Heftiba/Unsplash