Opinion: Towards a more collaborative approach to sustainability

Neil Ebbutt: “It seems increasingly likely that we will see the introduction of dedicated ‘clean’ beauty areas and certified sustainable product areas in travel retail”

In this guest column, Rituals Director Global Travel Retail Neil Ebbutt says that a collaborative approach to sustainability is key to the long-term health of our industry and the wellbeing of our planet.  

In travel retail, no issue has risen up the industry agenda faster over the last few years than sustainability. And with good reason – according to TFWA research, 71% of shoppers would have their purchase decision impacted by a product having sustainability credentials. As a result of its increased importance to consumers, sustainability has been thrust into the spotlight and become a “must-have” for every brand aiming for credibility.

While it’s heartening that a topic which is so central to Rituals’ ethos has become an industry wide issue, it’s crucial that we do not lose sight of what we should be aiming to achieve and do not allow sustainability to become a commoditised, tick-box marketing exercise.

The choice of sustainable brands in travel retail ties into broader global trends around conscious spending, mindful consumption and wellbeing, all of which are here to stay for the long run. Consumers are only going to become more discerning and demanding in choosing which brands to align with and which retail channels to use, so it’s vital for the long-term viability of travel retail that we continue to push the sustainability agenda forward.

From individual organisations within travel retail there is huge progress being made around sustainability. At Rituals we tackle this challenge from every angle and have made significant investments in rolling out more sustainable practices across our business, for example transitioning our entire product range to 90% natural-origin ingredients by 2023 and shifting all packaging to 100% recyclable/ refillable or made with recycled materials by 2025.

As an industry, the next step is asking how we reward and showcase those brands making positive contributions and tell a compelling sustainability story to travelling consumers at each step of their journey.

In the same way that the Trinity approach recognised the importance of collaboration at a commercial level, sustainability must be something which galvanises our industry. Discussion, innovation and collaboration should involve key stakeholders not only from within travel retail, but from the broader ecosystem which supports travel and tourism.

Key pillars: Rituals’ holistic approach spans physical and mental to spiritual wellbeing

Central to this broader, collaborative approach needs to be a focus on engaging travellers looking to make informed, meaningful choices at every step of their journeys and embrace what we at Rituals call ‘The Art of Soulful Living’ – Rituals’ holistic approach to good living, where all the important pillars are touched, from physical and mental to spiritual wellbeing. The same shopper who is keen to only buy sustainable skincare products is likely to demand similarly sustainable credentials from food & beverage operators, airlines, hotels and tour companies.

In the future, it seems increasingly likely that we will see the introduction of dedicated ‘clean’ beauty areas and certified sustainable product areas in travel retail. Considering the steps that we are taking, such as obtaining B Corp certification and transitioning our entire product range to 90% natural-origin ingredients, we want to be one of the first cosmetics brands to sit amongst a curated selection of highly certified products.

When all is said and done, our treatment of the planet directly impacts the long-term viability of our industry, but more importantly, our physical and mental wellbeing is also at stake. All of us have a role to play in not only challenging our own organisations to take better care of the Earth’s resources, but to drive broader conversations across the entire travel ecosystem about how we contribute to a happier, more sustainable way of life.

*Click here to read an in-depth interview with Rituals Innovation & Sustainability Director Niki Schilling.

The Moodie Davitt Report has launched an e-newsletter, Wellbeing Curated, in association with Rituals. It offers a curated selection of stories focused on the key wellbeing category in travel retail and beyond.

To subscribe free of charge please email Sinead@MoodieDavittReport.com headed ‘Curated Wellbeing’. All stories are permanently archived on this website.

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