With climate change no longer being a distant issue plaguing the world, the focus on environmental sustainability has never been more pertinent than ever. In the past couple of years, there have been growing emphasis on companies to be transparent and held accountable for their manufacturing processes and supply chains. Companies exhibit their initiatives through Corporate Sustainability Reports (CSRs), serving as a bridge to report their sustainability efforts to stakeholders. With sustainable products being in-demand, some companies are also leveraging on their sustainability efforts as a marketing or publicity stunt. Among the different industries, the cosmetics industry has historically been under heavy scrutiny regarding sustainable processes. As an industry that is heavily reliant on package goods, it is interesting to analyze and compare how these companies have adopted sustainable ways in their processes. Even though the consequence of global warming is omnipresent, there seems to be varying degrees across different countries in acknowledging the severity of the environmental issues and the importance of sustainability. For the purposes of a high-level comparison, this research investigates the differences between Asian and Western countries. This is especially relevant as Asian and Western consumers are culturally divergent, resulting in differences in their perception and consumption behavior. This study aims to understand the differences in sustainability communication between Asian cosmetic brands and western cosmetic brands. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the content across 20 sustainability materials such as companies’ annual reports or sustainability reports. The key words in the reports are analyzed as codes and grouped into code groups for further analysis. Through this study, we hope to gain a better understanding of the key area of focus in sustainability communication between cosmetic companies across the region. The result from this research shed light on four key concepts surrounding environmental sustainability, mainly stakeholder theory, environmental sustainability, rise in environmental consciousness and greenwashing ATLAS.ti was utilized to convert reoccurring environmentally sustainable themes and phrases within reports into codes, which was then allocated into one of the twelve artificially generated code groups. This resulted in a total of 2,587 codes stemming from twenty reports, of which Carbon Emissions, Environmental Impact & Sustainability, and Plastics Packaging inhibited greatest significance by a large margin when compared to other code groups. Furthermore, while the total distribution of code groups was approximately equal across Asian and Western cosmetic companies, individual code group distribution severely varied in the four most significant code groups. Consequently, as part of the qualitative content analysis, four concepts were extracted from main findings of specific marketing usage of relevant code groups. The concluding remark is that Stakeholder Theory, Environmental Sustainability, Rise in Environmental Consciousness, and Greenwashing feature heavily in the analysis of cosmetic companies’ sustainability reporting.

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Dr. Radhika Mittal
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Ridhwan Rusli Bintang. (2022, June 27). One Standard of Beauty, Two Standards of Environmental Sustainability How do Asian and Western cosmetic companies incorporate environmental sustainability into sustainability reporting from 2018 onwards?. Media & Business. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/65049