There is strong evidence that certification drives performance. UK B Corps reported an average revenue growth of 14% year-on-year since launch in 2015. There is an overriding message that people want to buy from businesses they believe in and whose values align with their own.
As well as the potential increase in revenue, becoming a B Corp may also generate positive reputational effects and differentiate companies from their competitors. In the consumer market, a number of major retailers have actively been showing support for B Corps with Ocado, Waitrose and Boots each creating ‘B Corp’ only digital shopping aisles.
A focus on fashion and beauty brands…
The ethical dimension of building a fashion and beauty brand is now a top priority.
As a result of the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Beauty Council’s 2020 Report ‘the Courage to Change: Sustainability Report’, many brands are under scrutiny for their contribution to climate change. Experts want to see comprehensive, aggressive and urgent efforts from brands that focus on full-spectrum and whole-system changes.
In our recent campaign, ‘Defining Moments’, doyenne of the retail world, Mary Portas, described the seismic shift that has hit our consumer society and the ‘Covid conscience’ that has driven us to a ‘kindness economy’ and a revaluation of how we live and operate. As she notes, “we’re seeing the floods, we’re seeing the fires, we’re seeing what’s happening across the world” and the realisation is that we need to create “businesses that look after our people and our planet as well as profit”.
B Corps may be the solution for many reasons – they are a demonstrable way to reaffirm a brand’s shift to sustainable and ethical practices that encompass transparent supply chains, better labour practices and a ‘give back’ model. Obtaining and maintaining a B Corp certification can help fashion and beauty brands to both ensure that their operations are up to par and to alert sceptical consumers of the fact. There is therefore also an indisputable marketing element at play for B Corps in the way that it can strengthen a brand’s reputation globally as a sustainability-minded company. Moreover, the badge ensures that a brand remains relevant and appealing to customers, building goodwill and attracting consumers in a saturated market. In October 2021, the iconic brand Chloé announced it had achieved B Corp status, making it the first luxury Maison to do so. This defining event is sure to pave the way for many more luxury fashion brands to follow suit.
Greater Investment Appeal
B Corp certification signals to investors that a business is beginning to measure and manage its social and environmental performance and will be held accountable to these objectives. The standards required for B Corp designation demonstrate a genuine commitment to social and environmental ambitions and excellence – this authenticity is vital in a market often criticised of ‘greenwashing’.
By way of example, Vestiaire Collective, a luxury resale platform, raised $216 million in a funding round in March 2021. Part of the company’s manifesto to its current and prospective investors was its intention to become B Corp certified, which it then went on to achieve in September 2021.
B Corps are an equally appealing asset in the M&A market, with Nestle acquiring a majority stake in B Corp Mindful Chef in November 2020.