Last month, beauty major Natura &Co became a founding member of WaterBear, launching a dedicated channel designed to showcase its environmental and social ambitions worldwide on the free eco video streaming platform. The goal? To take Natura &Co’s green messaging to an even wider audience, touching the hearts and minds of more citizens to inspire sustainable action, it said. And with 250,000 global users already on the WaterBear platform just nine months after launch, there was good potential.
But, was this the future of sustainable beauty? Did brands now need to stretch out beyond on-shelf messaging, in-store marketing and social media noise into video storytelling?
In short – yes, said Sam Sutaria, head of strategy at WaterBear. “Trust of brands is at an all-time low; people are not necessarily responding as they usually do to the traditional advertising. That’s where we come to storytelling,” Sutaria told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
Breaking the ‘echo chamber’ in sustainability communication
“…From an impact perspective, engaging new people and recruits to the environmental space is something very, very interesting to us,” he said. “And obviously, with a pioneering brand like Natura &Co, they’ve been leading the field in purpose-led cosmetics, so turning that into something very story-led was very exciting for us.”
What WaterBear wanted to do – with Natura &Co and other brands on the platform – was “break the echo chamber” of sustainability communications, he said, through collaborative storytelling.
Working with Natura &Co, for example, WaterBear’s production studio would transform the beauty major’s sustainability accomplishments into a stories people could “engage with very deeply”, he said. More specifically, Sutaria said WaterBear would focus on “atomic storytelling” that had a sharper focus on individual characters, events and small-stature stories – a far cry from traditional environmental storytelling that tended to pivot on scaremongering and big, scary truths. The goal, he said, was to create “living, breathing, emotive and empathetic” stories.
WaterBear was currently working with Natura &Co on an eco-documentary that explored stories about the communities it worked with in Latin America, Sutaria said, particularly the Amazon – one of the “most amazing ecosystems on earth”. The documentary was set to go live on the platform in the coming months, he said, reaching “non-typical audiences” for the beauty brand.
‘Community’ and ‘collaboration’ to be key over next decade
Importantly, WaterBear offered a space where a brands and consumers could engage with one another collectively, Sutaria said.
“Community building and collaboration – those two Cs are going to be the two Cs of the next decade. We need to come together on these issues and learn from each other. We want to try and give that diverse and story-led approach to WaterBear; we’re a network in every sense of the word.”
“…What we want to do at WaterBear is keep the platform free and build a coalition of purpose-built brands that all bring something different to the table. We cherry-picked the industries we wanted to work with – beauty, energy, apparel, cameras, among others – and what we wanted to do is find a founding global partner; someone who had international presence,” he said.
Natura &Co had become one of those founding partners, he said, alongside photography major Nikon Europe, and both brands would sit on the Brand Council at WaterBear to contribute ideas on how best to take the platform forward.
‘People as part of nature’ – beauty should focus on its people
For the wider beauty industry, Sutaria said future sustainability outreach was about making this highly engaging category better for people and planet. Importantly, he said beauty brands had to start making indigenous voices louder and “bring those voices into the boardroom” given how important they were to sustainable supply chains worldwide.
“We’re really excited about exploring that (…) What we want to do across industry is position people as part of nature, not people and nature, and I think beauty as a whole has a really interesting opportunity to be a vehicle for that, because of its human and natural connection.”
This year, WaterBear has partnered with The New York Times as an official content partner for the upcoming November 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and will be hosting a number of screenings and panels at the summit to take engaging environmental content to the masses.
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