Sustainable Design and the UK

Fair Trade allowed producers to receive a significant price premium, dependent upon world coffee prices and the mainstream markets. Price premiums for farmers promoted social development and strengthened institutional capacities in the area. However, the ability to improve working conditions for workers was limited (Valkila and Nygren 2009). Price premiums were found to be the main benefit for fruit producers involved in a Swiss partnership (Bezencon 2009).


Fair Trade products and certified end products represent the next logical step in the natural and organic products movement. The impact of fair trade has already been examined in other industries and it is believed that the same principles apply to the cosmetics industry as well. Trends in the cosmetic industry are driven traditionally by the fashion industry. However, social responsibility must now be considered a part of the equation as well. The movement towards socially responsible products is being driven by consumer demand. Consumers are demanding socially responsible products and the industry has an obligation to provide them.

Research sustainable practices and the UK cosmetics industry reveals two key trends in research. Study into this topic is in its infancy and it currently lacks in cohesive theory development. Theory is beginning to develop in the area of standards and evaluation criteria for those seeking certification. Cohesiveness in this area is expected to produce greater consumer demand. Standardization will allow the customer to know what to expect when they read key terms on the label. Currently, a lack of theoretical cohesion in this area leaves the customer wondering if they are getting what they pay for in terms of sustainability and ethically sound practices.

Research into the affects of fair trade products indicates that socially responsible products do have at least some positive effects on the country of origin. The trend in fair trade and sustainable market will have an impact on UK cosmetic sales. It is expected that as time continues, sales of organic, natural and fair trade cosmetic products will continue to represent a greater percentage of the market share as the gains momentum. If the literature reviewed is any indication, one could expect consumer demand for sustainable cosmetic products to continue to increase over time.

The consumer market for sustainable cosmetic products is in its early stages. As the market matures, one could expect to see major players in the industry to be begin marketing sustainable products as well. It is the consumers who are in control of this trend and if current growth is any indication, the trend will continue to increase in the future.

Attention to global issues and social responsibility are key drivers of the trend.

Due to the early stage in market development, the field is wide open for the introduction of new theories and ideas. Research indicates that the trend is here to stay and that it hold the potential to represent a major sector in the cosmetic industry. Sustainability closes the gap in the value chain between supply and marketing. The development of this intimate relationship means a new way of looking at the value chain in the sustainable cosmetic industry. However, much more research is needed before we will be able to understand its impact on the industry.

This literature review demonstrated that although, not much is available concerning the cosmetic industry in the UK and sustainability, one can extrapolate from other industries that face a similar situation. The first step in understanding the complexities of this developing trend will be the formulation of theory. It will be necessary to look towards other industries that have a similar supply chain and end product distribution for inspiration. As the market matures the direction that research must take will become more apparent.


Bezencon, V. n.d. Producers and the fair trade distribution systems: what are the benefits and problems? [Online]. Sustainably Development. Abstract. Available at: [Accessed 3 Nov 2009].

Global Cosmetics Industry (GCI). 2009. European Natural Cosmetics Sales Approaching ˆ2 Billion. [Online]. 1 Oct 2009. Available at: [Accessed 3 Nov 2009].

Global Cosmetics Industry (GCI). 2009. Global Natural Products Market: The Battle of the Standards Gains Pace. Available at: [Accessed 3 Nov 2009].

Moore, G., Slack, R. & Gibbon, 2009. PR Firm Names top Ten Ingredients for 2009. [Online]. Journal of Business Ethics. Available at: [Accessed 3 Nov 2009].

Pitman, S. 2008. France leads the way on Fairtrade personal care Cosmetics 1 Oct 2008 [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 3 Nov 2009].

Organic Monitor. 2008. 7021-92 Strategic Insights: The Potential of Fair Trade Cosmetics & Ingredients. Available at: [Accessed 3 Nov 2009].

Valkila, J. & Nygren, a. 2009. Impacts of fair trade certification on coffee farmers, cooperatives, and laborers in Nicaragua. [Online]. Agriculture and Human Values. Abstract. Available at: / [Accessed 3 Nov 2009]..

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