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Sophie Bloxam

Published on

February 20, 2024


brand, Brand Awareness, strategy

It was announced that The Body Shop has gone into administration, leading to thousands of job cuts and UK store closures. This is another blow to the UK high street and what was deemed a hugely successful expansion from local shop to global brand. Its ethical values, brand positioning, strong brand identity and campaigns against animal testing headed by its founder, Anita Roddick, made it unique. But what caused its decline?

Getting nostalgic, The Body Shop was my staple shop to browse as a teenager in the 1990s. I’d save my pocket money to buy banana conditioner, whale-shaped ‘save the whale’ soaps and bath pearls. First living near The Body Shop factory in Littlehampton, my Dad told me a story of Anita Roddick. She opened one of her first shops next to a funeral parlour and got into an argument about the inappropriateness of the name ‘Body Shop’, yet it stuck.

More than two decades later, what’s happened to the brand? Now owned by a private equity firm, has it lost its sense of brand purpose from being a campaigner to being driven by profit?

At TEAM LEWIS, we work with a wide range of brands who come to us to help them define their brand strategy and develop it into campaigns.

This can be when they’re doing well or need help in a changing market. No brand can stand still. You need to be able to articulate a clear and adaptable business strategy. Linking it with a brand strategy that’s underpinned by insights and key brand messaging are crucial to communicating with your target audience. Integrated campaigns can then lead to an effective brand strategy, helping a brand talk to its customers via multiple marketing channels.

To set The Body Shop up for success, it needs to:

  • Stay purposeful: The Body Shop was the first brand of its kind to stand for strong moral and ethical core values and kept these consistent across all its marketing efforts. However, it lost its way. This was when it was acquired by L’Oreal (which has a policy on animal testing its ingredients) and against a range of competitors who also stand for similar issues. It needs to be bolder and clearer in what it’s doing to gain purpose.
  • Explore new methods of engagement: Its original audiences (like me) have shifted to new phases of life. Partnerships with relevant brands can also make it more appealing to newer and younger audiences, as Lush did with Barbie. It should also build its presence on the channels that matter to these audiences, bringing humanity to its communications.
  • Offer an experience: Examples such as the in-store experience of beauty brands such as Bath & Body Works, where customers are invited to engage with the product, offer an experience you can’t get online. To make physical shopping more appealing, it could partner with local skin care consultants or make-up artists to give helpful tips and demos
  • Build on nostalgia: With TV shows such as Stranger Things and Gladiators helping to build a sense of nostalgia in terms of fashion and music, there is a huge opportunity for The Body Shop to bridge cultural trends. They could bring back traditional products that are still topical and relevant, that people like me loved as a teenager.

I really hope The Body Shops gets bought and succeeds in the UK. We don’t want it to represent another Blockbuster video example of a brand that has failed to adapt its branding strategy to modern times. Its ethical brand values still stand. It’s just about how it tells its brand story to show it strongly believes in them and continues to offer high quality and naturally made ‘smellies’.

If you need some advice about building an adaptable and successful brand strategy, get in touch with our team.

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