Body Shop Brand: Repositioning to Target the ‘Masstige’ Segment and Impact of its Acquisition by L’Oréa

Body Shop Brand: Repositioning to Target the ‘Masstige’ Segment and Impact of its Acquisition by L’Oréa

Understand the issues and challenges in building up a brand through the societal marketing concept

 The case discusses the evolution of ‘The Body Shop’ brand since its inception – its rapid growth in the 1980s; decline in the 1990s; repositioning to target the ‘masstige’ segment; acquisition by L’Oréal; and, impact of the acquisition. Since its inception in 1976, The Body Shop International Plc (TBS) had caught the imagination of its customers as well as the world through its ethical stance and social activism of its founder Dame Anita Roddick (Roddick). The brand, considered an example of the societal marketing concept, grew rapidly for more than a decade till it faced some serious problems in the 1990s and the early 2000s. It suffered due to a combination of factors – quality issues related to its products; emergence of many other ‘me-too’ brands; and, targeted by critics who alleged that TBS was not as ethical as it projected itself.         

This was the time the management of TBS decided to reposition the brand to target the ‘masstige’ segment. It took various initiatives to reinforce the positioning and by the mid2000s, TBS was well on its path to recovery. In 2006, TBS’s management agreed to be acquired by multinational cosmetics giant L’Oréal. This decision led to a spate of criticisms against TBS and Roddick as the critics alleged that L’Oréal did not share the values of TBS. Some felt that the ‘The Body Shop’ brand was irrevocably damaged through its association with L’Oréal. However, TBS sales seemed to be unaffected by the criticisms and consumer backlash that followed the acquisition, at least in the short term.

Issues:

 Q1. Understand the issues and challenges in building up a brand through the societal marketing concept

Q2. Understand the issues and challenges in repositioning a brand, particularly to the ‘masstige’ segment of the consumers

Q3. Understand the reasons for the consumer backlash against TBS after it agreed to be acquired by L’Oreal and the effect social criticism/consumer backlash has on a brand

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