Connect, chat and change at key events

Givaudan’s presentations at the World Perfumery Congress and the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in 2014 spoke of a future with challenges, but one where our industry is coming up roses. Here we explain why attending these events is so important. 

Givaudan first attended the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit (SCS) ten years ago, and spoke for the first time in 2009. In 2014 we were invited to co-sponsor SCS’s September event in São Paolo. The invitation was eagerly accepted: this high profile event – one of the largest in the cosmetics and fragrance world – aligns with our desire to share our experience in how we sustainably source cosmetics ingredients with other suppliers and with large customers.

Hervé, our Global Director of Naturals, explains why Givaudan’s presence at these events is so crucial: “The objective of these summits is for everyone to share their experiences and to consider trying new models. Companies have different approaches to sustainable sourcing and that’s not a bad thing: this is how we can learn, exchange experiences and strategies. The theme of our presentation this year, ‘Ethical Sourcing in Perfumery – The Learning Journey’, focused on the key pillars of sustainable supply. We shared our own experience in ethical sourcing, and our most important learnings, which include engaging local communities, managing crop fluctuations, motivating local partners, working with NGOs, preserving biodiversity, developing new products and engaging other partners.”

Hervé describes the main take-away of these events: “The SCS is always really inspiring, it reminds everyone that they’re not on their own. What we noted this year was the emergence of a truly ‘360’ approach. This encompasses a whole ‘eco-concept’ from raw materials right through to packaging and merchandising, and this was top of everyone’s agenda.”

Hervé tells of a similar mood at the World Perfumery Congress (WPC) in Deauville, France, attended by over 1,000 participants in June 2014. “The WPC is a unique opportunity for Givaudan leaders to meet other key players in the industry such as customers, suppliers and competitors. Several Givaudan representatives were invited to participate in conferences and panel discussions, talking on topics of strategic importance for the industry, in particular Sustainability.”

Givaudan’s Sustainability Manager, Mickaël, presented around Smart Sustainability and how the perfumery industry, with its reliance on raw materials can seize an opportunity to make a blueprint for a more sustainable model. Mickaël explains how: “Sustainability contributes to growth of brands via increased attraction and better efficiency: there’s really no contradiction between sustainable and profitable growth.” He adds: “We all have an important role to play. Successes will come via collaboration between stakeholders: at the industry level, businesses can join forces to be effective on the more challenging issues. This is what we see with groups such as AIM-PROGRESS, the NRSC (Natural Resources Stewardship Council), or the suppliers’ ethical data exchange (SEDEX).”

Much of this impetus is from a strong desire from corporates to act as good global citizens, but is also being driven by greater consumer awareness. Hervé explains the growing shift in consumer behaviours: “In early 2000, the buzzword was ‘organic’. Not everyone knows that organic pertains to the way in which the land is cultivated – and this is a good thing – but it is not necessarily fully sustainable. Brands were also developing their own standards, which led to a patchwork of different types of ‘green’ labels. However, consumers can see through anything that isn’t genuine! Today we’ve really moved on and things have changed. Education is key for consumers, and transparency is critical for brands. At Givaudan, our role is to educate our customers, so in turn, they can pass this information onto the end consumer. In particular, we are supporting brand managers and the people developing the products of tomorrow.”

Supporting this, Mickaël explains part of the talk he gave at WPC: “Consumers are more discerning about the sustainability footprint of the products and services they use. A growing segment of individual consumers are putting their money where their values are, demanding an understanding of the sustainability impacts of the products and services that they buy. In turn, for the retail industry, sustainability is becoming a core consideration, affecting strategy, operations, and connection to consumers and communities. It’s about transparency and big data, as well as new consumption patterns, like ‘shared consumption’, lifestyles shifts, experiences, reuse, and services.”

It seems these two seminal events shared the same conclusion, one best summed up in a quote used by Hervé during his SCS talk: “Coming together is a beginning; Keeping together is progress; working together is success.” It’s a quote by Henry Ford, but one which neatly describes the positive change that our industry is undertaking. It is clear that the vital connections and learnings shared within this arena are driving the momentum for change.