Beauty Kitchen Re Program Aims To Boost Circular Beauty In Retail Over Next Five Years, Founder Says
Initially launched last year, the Re program offered beauty and personal care brands and retailers with refillable bottles and standardized charging stations in an effort to support scalable and lasting change. Developed as a business unit within independent brand Beauty Kitchen, the program had already secured Unilever, Asda and Co-op in the UK and was due to launch with Elemis in John Lewis department stores in early 2022. It was also executed with Beauty Kitchen in the Netherlands and Belgium at Holland & Barrett stores, as well as across the UK.
The larger ambition was to integrate many other beauty and personal care brands and retailers in the coming months, according to Jo Chidley, founder of Beauty Kitchen and Re.
Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Chidley said: âThere are quite a few brands that we can’t talk about (â¦) but we talk to everyone you’d expect us to talk to. So, it’s pretty exciting.
The aim was first to expand the program to the UK, she said, with wider expansion in Europe. âThe next logical stepâ.
When asked if Beauty Kitchen has international ambitions for Re, she replied: âIf we take Asia and America, they’re really way behind in their recycling journey, and they’re even further behind in their reuse journey. However, some countries in Asia, like India in particular, are very prone to reuse. So there are some markets that we could potentially jump into because it makes cultural sense, but, for now, we want to do it right in the UK. “
For the UK, she said the goal was to roll out more than 250 return points over the next nine months, but also to expand beyond the beauty of other adjacent high-use categories, such as home care.
Close the loop for brands, retailers and consumers
Chidley said for the Re program to truly make a difference and drive circular change, brands, retailers and consumers need to come together.
âHaving everything that is a circular business model is tricky because if you have a circular business model you really have to collaborate. You are not creating something that is ultimately a competitive advantage just for your business; you’re creating a benefit for everyone, and that’s not right for linear businesses.
The Re program was designed to work in a circular fashion with all kinds of beauty and retail brands, large and small, offering no exclusivity to any of them, she said. All the refillable bottles were the same; all the charging stations were the same, she said, although these could of course be marked accordingly. âWe will be responsible for the initial packaging, not the labeling, not the brand, not anything that is intrinsic to a brand. We are just the vehicle of the product.
The concept of offering the same packaging and refill stations for everyone was important, Chidley said, because it was crucial to create a shift in consumer mindsets around circularity – encouraging consumers to buy for the ingredients and the formulation. , not for packaging. âAll we’re doing is helping consumers, brands and retailers make the switch to ‘product as a service’, rather than just single-use packaging. “she says.
Circular Beauty and Retail is “Accessibility”
Moving forward, Chidley said that the success of programs like Re would wholeheartedly depend on the level of “accessibility”they offered to consumers.
Refillable beauty items and charging stations had to be convenient to buy, use and return, while still offering enough brand choices, she said. If that wasn’t achieved, she said consumers would not engage.
âIt all comes down to the bolts: is it practical, accessible and do I have a choice of brands to choose from? That’s really what we’re trying to do – build the repertoire in terms of number of brands â,she says. Re was already working with Unilever, for example, and ten of its brands, and with the integration of Elemis, owned by L’Occitane, it was possible to expand the choice even further, she said.
âAlthough the biggest brands are much more difficult and maybe even difficult to manage because they have a very low risk profile in terms of managing change, the opportunity for sustainability is huge because they give us access to a large choice of brands. They also have relationships with large retailers, which makes things more accessible and convenient.
As Beauty Kitchen worked on Re’s expansion and scale-up, Chidley said he will consciously try to integrate more big brands, but also independent, prestige and luxury brands to offer consumers this essential choice in the reuse and recharge market.
“Reuse will not be suitable for everything”
However, while Beauty Kitchen had strong growth ambitions for Re, Chidley said it won’t be right for all brands or retailers, although the goal is for it to be important to many.
âReuse won’t do everything. But reuse must definitely be a pillar of the packaging we will use in the future â,she says.
And centralizing and eliminating reuse and recharge retail competition, she said, would be key to achieving that. âIf you think back to when EVs first hit the market, they all had different outlets and outlet points, which was a nightmare for us to switch to EVs. And even in Victorian times, all train lines were different gauge, so you couldn’t take a train from London to Edinburgh without changing trains. And the reason was the competitive advantage (â¦) In a circular economy, we can’t do that.
For circular business models to really scale, in beauty, retail or other categories, she said. “Widget”Had to be standardized – a huge shift in mindset for traditional players in the industry, but not necessarily a big shift in action.
âIf we think about the packaging and all the packaging that is available at the moment, we could go to a packaging supplier’s website and look at all the different components that they have, and in fact, there aren’t any. not as much as you might think âshe says. Re’s goal was simply to bring all of these components to market in reusable formats.
Integration of suppliers and collaboration with other reuse actors
Bringing in suppliers, drawn from packaging and the broader supply chain, was therefore essential, Chidley said. âFor me, it’s about integrating not only brands and retailers, but also industry, i.e. supply chain and sourcing, because we are not a company of packaging, but what we’re really good at is bringing different pieces together to create a circular business model that people can access. This is where the opportunity is for everyone.
When asked if Beauty Kitchen and Re clash with TerraCycle and its Loop program, Chidley said no, he works alongside her instead.
“The reuse market, in terms of players, we all know each other and we all help each other” she says. And it has remained a niche market with a lot of room to grow and a lot to accomplish, she said.
While Loop was working with the “Food industry in general”,Partnering with Tesco, she said Re takes a beauty-focused approach and works “a little differently”.
âThere is a lot of space for everyone. All I want to do is make sure we don’t create widgets that don’t match â,she says.
Reuse beauty to soon become mainstream?
So how far was the beauty category from integrating a charging revolution? [one of CosmeticsDesignâs Top 15 Global Beauty Trends to Watch in 2022ââ]?
“Deep in my heart I would like to say quickly,” Chidley said. âBut I think we’re looking at a three to five year plan here. Because the other thing is, these are thoughtful disturbances. You have to take people with it (â¦) You don’t want to be the one who creates something that makes other companies go bankrupt, there is something really unethical about it. It’s about bridging this gap and bringing people with us, but unfortunately it takes time â,she says.