The Body Shop: Social Responsibility or Sustained Greenwashing?

Case Abstract

This case is about the issue of sustainability rhetoric and greenwashing. In March 2006, The Body Shop International Plc. (Body Shop), a retailer of natural-based and ethically-sourced beauty products, announced that it had agreed to an acquisition by the beauty care giant L’Oréal in a cash deal worth £652 million (US$ 1.14 billion). The announcement brought in its wake a spate of criticism against Body Shop and its founder, Dame Anita Roddick. Body Shop was regarded as a pioneer in modern corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices.

The company was also strongly associated with Roddick’s social activism. This case discusses the reactions of consumers, activists, and CSR experts to the acquisition of Body Shop by L’Oréal. The acquisition throws up some questions such as: Is Body Shop guilty of greenwashing? Does it have the influence to extend its values to L’Oréal? The case also looks into the issue of whether L’Oréal was trying to improve its own image and to buy CSR through this deal.

Authors: Rajiv Fernando, Debapratim Purkayastha
Institution: ICFAI Hyderabad, India
Competition Year2007
Place3rd place
TrackCorporate Sustainability
Key WordsBody Shop, L'Oreal, Societal Marketing Concept, Repositioning, Anita Roddick, Multi-Channel Strategy, Loyalty Programme, Corporate Social Responsibility, Ethical Score
CoursesBusiness Ethics, Corporate Governance, Business Strategy, Marketing Management
Target AudienceMBA, MS
Permission RightsThis case is available for purchase from the Case Centre (707-006-1). This case is also part of the oikos Case Collection book (Volume 1): Case Studies in Sustainability Management and Strategy published by Greenleaf.
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posted June 30, 2007

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