More accurately, the new is that L’Oreal is ‘considering’ selling the Body Shop which it bought for £650m a few years ago. For it to hit the headlines of The Financial Times and be reported on the BBC news, I think we can fairly safely say that the writing is on the wall. The Body Shop Foundation, founded by Anita Roddick and her husband in 1989, to announced its closure at the end of last year and that should have been a red flag that something was very definitely up. The foundation had a declining income (it was primarily funded by The Body Shop) and they failed to reach further funding agreements.
In simple financial terms, the only reason that L’Oreal would consider selling The Body Shop is that it isn’t bringing in expected revenue. But, the more interesting question is why it’s failed to perform under the helm of L’Oreal. Partly, it’s because being animal friendly isn’t a niche any more – tougher legislation around animal testing is across the board, so most brands don’t test on animals these days.
As a consumer and observer, I think L’Oreal plans for Body Shop were just too grand. The simple things that people loved Body Shop for (tangerine things, animal shaped soaps and so on) didn’t get any attention and instead L’Oreal focussed on selling expensive skin care to people who only ever wanted a bottle of Dewberry .I literally don’t know how you convert someone who loves Strawberry Shower Gel to a bottle of Widdringtonia Fragrance. There was a misplaced assumption that the hardcore Body Shop fan could be easily converted to a L’Oreal With A Panda Face fan. Despite some really beautiful new formulations (last year’s face masks, Drops of Youth oil) it just all got too expensive and moved a long way from affordable, feel-good, do-good beauty.
We are short on affordable bath & body products with any points of difference, but we are not in the least short on skin care so I feel more development in the bath and body category would have been wiser. Let me know your thoughts! For all the so called ‘expert’ quotes, consumer opinion is really what counts. L’Oreal has had over 10 years with this brand – where did it go wrong in your view?
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