Sustainability & Beauty

September 21, 2023

Sustainability is becoming central to growing the beauty e-commerce market.

The beauty industry – including skincare, fragrance, makeup, and haircare – has long been criticized for its environmental impact, use of toxic chemicals, and non-recyclable materials. However, in recent years, beauty has been undergoing a green movement, known as “sustainable beauty,” with brands taking action to reduce their climate footprint while championing the health of the planet alongside the health of the individual.

Although sustainability often comes with front-loaded costs, these businesses are winning over young shoppers who are willing to pay a premium for environmentally-friendly brands. Yet the preference isn’t limited to Gen Zers and Millennials.

According to surveys conducted by NIQ, nearly half of all consumers are likely to choose a brand if it has health benefits for them as well as the planet. The same survey found that 69 percent of consumers said sustainability has become more important to them over the last two years. In particular, Gen Z and Millennials indicate they will conduct extensive research on product sustainability before purchasing.

Research suggests there is both an ethical and competitive reason to “go green” and capitalize on this rapidly growing preference. Simple choices can improve sustainability: use eco-friendly materials for packaging that are either biodegradable or recyclable – glass, cardboard, and bamboo are popular choices; utilize a minimalist design to reduce unnecessary material; prioritize reusable packaging for products like lotions and makeup.

While reducing waste might come with front-loaded costs, there is potential for long-term financial gain. Sustainable beauty brands can solidify their customer base and increase repeat buyers by creating a culture centered on values. This choice often wins over Gen Z and Millennial shoppers who are more likely to shop for brands with which they feel ethically connected.

Major e-commerce marketplaces – like Amazon – are beginning to prioritize sustainable products, which can help soften the blow of added production costs. Amazon offers a “Climate Pledge Friendly Badge” listed below the product title and rating stars, allowing these products to appear in special sustainable product searches.

Although “going green” is becoming an increasingly important branding strategy, companies need to be careful to substantiate their environmental claims or risk their reputation. Various certifications like Amazon’s or FDA certifications like “cruelty-free” improve branding but come with strict qualifications. If a company is accused of “greenwashing” – falsely claiming environmental standards – they can quickly lose customers. Surveys have found that 77 percent of consumers would stop buying products from brands guilty of greenwashing.

Businesses that make environmental sustainability central to their mission have a major opportunity at hand: embed ethics into their business model, become leaders in environmental responsibility, and connect with a wide audience who cares – and will pay more – to support brands that are dedicated to protecting their health and the planet.

The ZQUARED Advantage

With extensive experience working with large brands in the Beauty & Personal space, ZQUARED brings invaluable strategic experience to your business. Our team can help you stay ahead of the curve as market demands shift.

Additionally, we optimize your listings across major e-commerce platforms, maintain competitive Minimum Advertised Pricing, and streamline warehouse operations to cut operational costs.

To learn more about how ZQUARED can help your brand, email us at