In this guest column, L’OCCITANE Group Managing Director Travel Retail, Export, B2B & Spa Worldwide Aline Valantin looks back on how travel retail celebrated Earth Day in April. She also discusses L’OCCITANE’s mission to create positive change and assesses how sustainability is driving the future of the channel.
The travel retail industry recently celebrated Earth Day (22 April) alongside one billion environmentally committed people from more than 190 countries globally. Who could have predicted that this pioneering green movement, created back in 1970, would grow exponentially and become a genuine catalyst for positive change?
To celebrate the event, L’OCCITANE Travel Retail created six ‘nature positive’, animated pop-up stores at Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris. The pop-ups showcased the brand’s sustainable product ranges, combined with an interactive eco-game and giveaway seeds for clients to plant at home.
On offer was an exclusive limited edition travel retail-exclusive Shea Butter Hand Cream containing 96% natural origin ingredients and a tube created from 95% recycled aluminium.
To support biodiversity, 1% of its April sales went to support tree planting initiatives through the Office National des Forêts (ONF) in France. Through the L’OCCITANE Foundation and this initiative, approximately 40 hectares of forestland in France will be regenerated.
L’OCCITANE Travel Retail is now launching this dynamic ‘nature positive’ animated pop-up store concept globally. The campaign is already underway in Europe, continuing during the summer months. It will be rolled out in the Americas and APAC countries at the beginning of July.
If the last three challenging years have taught us anything it is that, as a sector, we need to focus all our efforts on working together for a cleaner and more sustainable planet. This urgent desire to spearhead real change has been driven not only by the travel retail industry itself but more crucially, by the customer too.
During the pandemic, we were forced to sharpen our perspectives and to consider how we can adapt to the reality of a disruptive and unpredictable ‘new normal’. We had to find innovative ways to support the customer and to address their genuine concerns in an ever- evolving landscape.
While very real challenges lay ahead, fantastic opportunities presented themselves too, and at L’OCCITANE Travel Retail we saw this as the perfect time to reach out to our customers in a meaningful way. We did this by highlighting our Provençal art-de-vivre and reminding them of the brand’s green credentials.
As an eco-pioneer since our inception in 1976, L’OCCITANE en Provence has always been at the forefront of change. As early as 1992, our company created a customer campaign dedicated to recycling and reducing waste. We joined forces with TerraCycle in 2014 to offer in-store recycling bins for our customers.
This underlined our commitment to reducing waste in line with our Group motto of ‘Reduce, Recycle, React’. Our eco-refills for travel kits have proven a game changer in the industry, using 90% less plastic than a normal bottle and cutting plastic waste by approximately 200 tons annually.
In our continuing efforts to underline our commitment to natural and sustainable product formulas, eco design and sustainable packaging, all our travel exclusive kits offer products with improved formulas, no single-use plastics and packaging made from 100% certified FSC cardboard. The travel retail solids range of soaps and shampoos has also proven a sustainable hero. The line conserves water and reduces waste with its plastic-free packaging in accordance with the L’OCCITANE Clean Charter, which guarantees a minimum of 95% biodegradable ingredients.
Since sustainability has leapt to the top of the agenda, L’OCCITANE has been greatly encouraged by the fact that our travel retail colleagues have joined our sustainable crusade. Recent global research by m1nd-set — revealed at the Travel Retail Sustainability Week 2022 — identified that conscious consumerism has become the leading trend in 2022.
Savvy customers are wary of green washing and empty promises about brands’ sustainability policies: they want the real deal. M1nd-set also identified that since the pandemic, 85% travellers were more concerned than ever before about sustainability. 87% believed that sustainable values had a significant impact on a brand’s image.
Of those questioned, 85% expressed a desire to see more well-being spaces created at airports for showcasing sustainable products, and for use as meditation and relaxation zones.
During the Health & Well-being webinar at the Sustainability Week event, Marie Videau, Director of Research and Development at L’OCCITANE Group, endorsed this concept. She suggested the installation of wellbeing stations within airport complexes dedicated to wellness experiences and enlightening travellers about the sustainability of products.
During the Green Influencers webinar, Jean-Charles L’hommet, L’OCCITANE Group’s Biodiversity & Sustainable Ingredients Director, underlined the importance of ethical and eco-friendly practices when sourcing supply chains. He also stressed the need for transparency about the traceability of raw ingredients.
To encourage the consumer to make more informed choices, L’OCCITANE Travel Retail aims to ignite conscious conversations via the Group’s omnichannels and underline key sustainability messages in the airport. This year, our Asia Pacific travel retail team created a ‘Make Earth Green Again’ pop-up promotion at the Sanya International Duty Free Shopping Complex in Hainan.
The pop-up used eco-friendly materials and offered an immersive and experiential journey. It featured a digital recycling game, QR codes and digital information to spark interest and drive discourse. The pop-up also featured eco-refills and our recycled aluminium Forever Bottles that can be used time and again.
At L’OCCITANE Travel Retail we firmly believe in close collaboration with our travel partners and stakeholders in order to meet the expectations of the customer. Partnering with collectives such as One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OPB2) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has allowed us to engage in open-source practices.
In the same way, the likes of TFWA Exhibition & Conference, Virtual Travel Retail Expo and Sustainability Week have offered us the opportunity to participate in stimulating discussions with our industry colleagues and to share key insights in an atmosphere of positive cooperation.
The travel retail sector has come a long way in the last challenging few years and today is stronger and more united than ever when it comes to sustainability. We have shared values and similar goals in our efforts to reduce CO2 footprint, regenerate nature and adopt more sustainable practices to have a real impact on the whole value chain.
We are the shop window of the world, so surely it is our responsibility to take the lead by working together for lasting change and a better, cleaner and more sustainable planet?
Note: The Moodie Davitt Report has launched an e-newsletter, Sustainability Curated, in association with L’Occitane. It offers a curated selection of key sustainability stories in travel retail and beyond.
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