The Body Shop wants to reconnect with customers

Cosmetics brand The Body Shop is on a mission to re-claim space on your bathroom shelves and dresser.

Mr Arnaud Jeanteur, general manager of The Body Shop International, is the first to admit that in recent years, the reception to the brand has been rather tepid.

"When we discuss The Body Shop with our customers, some say it is like a best friend they have lost touch with," says the Frenchman.

The Body Shop customers usually start buying the brand's affordable products in their teens. The brand's target customers are men and women between the ages of 16 and 60.

"We are amazed to see how much the brand is rooted in the personal history of women across the world," he says.

"But we have lost our way a bit. So we want to re-ignite the brand across all aspects."

Mr Jeanteur was speaking to Life in Ubud, Bali, where the brand laid out its new plans on rejuvenating the billion-dollar business, to the regional press.

The brand's retail sales volume suffered a hit in 2013, when it fell from €1.47 billion in 2012 to €1.4 billion in 2013. But it picked itself up last year and the figure grew to €1.48 billion (S$2.27 billion).

The Body Shop has one of the world's largest masstige cosmetics distribution network; it has 3,048 stores across 63 markets.

The brand is not letting up. It is going forward full steam to win back the hearts of consumers who have outgrown the brand and attract younger ones who have never picked up a Body Shop product.

Part of the strategy is the launch of two new premium lines that cost about 10 to 15 per cent more than the regular range.

Prices for its other products start from $6.90 for a bottle of hand sanitiser to $89.90 for The Drops Of Youth Concentrate anti-ageing serum.

"The Body Shop has always been an accessible brand and it will remain so," says Mr Jeanteur. "But some customers want more sophisticated products and they are happy to pay a little more for them."

The Oils Of Life skincare line comprises four products - Essence Lotion ($39.90), Facial Oil ($65.90), Gel Cream ($55.90) and Revitalising Cream ($55.90) - made with the cold-pressed seed oils of black cumin, camellia and rosehip. The seeds are rich in skin-nourishing antioxidants, oleic acids as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

The Body Shop is known for its home spa collection - its Spa Wisdom range is award-winning - and it will be turning up the ante in the category with the new nine-piece Spa Of The World selection.

Inspired by ancient beauty rituals around the world, the line includes a new African Ximenia Scrub ($55.90), Himalayan Charcoal Body Clay ($36.90) and Polynesian Monoi Radiance Oil ($36.90). The line is complemented with two home spa tools - a body mask brush ($24.90) and a Thai wooden massager ($29.90).

To give the products a more premium feel, most of them are packaged in weighty recycled glass and come with matte black caps.

The Oils Of Life range hits Body Shop stores here on Sept 3; while Spa Of The World is available from Oct 1.

"There are now more opportunities for our more grown-up customers to find the answers to their needs," says Mr Jeanteur.

For The Body Shop's campaigns, he is taking the brand back to its British roots.

The Body Shop was founded by activist Anita Roddick in 1976 and she built her brand around community-based fair trade practices, as well as eco-friendly initiatives.

The company was one of the first to make a stand against animal testing.

Roddick sold her company to the French cosmetics conglomerate L'Oreal in 2006. She died a year later at 64 from a brain haemorrhage.

"Some people might not be aware of the strong heritage of the brand. The Body Shop became a bit silent over the years.

"It is always true to what it is, but that has not been made obvious."

So to make sure its messages are heard loud and clear, the brand has begun to adopt more graphic pop-art visuals, as well as an " irreverent British tone" in its campaigns.

For example, the tagline for the new Oils Of Life declares cheekily: "It's not a miracle, but it's close."

Mr Jeanteur explains: "We want to be plain talking, simple to understand and communicate with our customers like a friend."

The new initiatives will also continue to drive home The Body Shop's philosophies, such as its dedication to conserving the environment. For instance, for every Oils Of Life skincare product sold, a seed will be planted in the Cerro Blanco, the last dry forest in Ecuador. The brand aims to plant a million seeds over two years.

"The idea is to give people the opportunity to re-connect and re-discover the brand," says Mr Jeanteur.

"We have new products to reaffirm what makes the brand different and make it more relevant to the customers; while honouring our heritage."

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This article was first published on August 13, 2015.
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