Can beauty travel retail look at the Nordics for circular pioneers to follow?
When growing your brand, Lumene’s VP R&D and Sustainability Alain Mavon states the importance of how it’s made: ”We need to grow differently.”
20 Oct 2023

Lumene has worked with circular principles for their skincare range for more than 20 years. During the leading travel retail fair TFWA World Exhibition and Conference in Cannes in the first days of October, the Finnish brand showcased for the first time, bringing its range of upcycled ingredients and material innovations to a global audience.

— There were almost 500 brands showing what you see in any duty-free shops: alcohol and beverage, jewellery, and skincare, says Alain Mavon, VP R&D and Sustainability. We had a nice, 34 sqm booth, visible, and a lot of traction. In general, we are not so known, so I think one of the big things was just to showcase. Surprisingly, people had heard about us, probably because we have also been in a few duty-free shops, for example in Helsinki. So, especially before COVID, there have been a lot of people from Asia there, with Helsinki being a kind of shortcut to Asia. 

— We also had a lot of attraction from around the world with people who wanted to distribute our brand from Costa Rica, Panama, Korea, Uruguay, Malaysia, and more. We are not planning to expand that far right now — we are in China but focusing on Europe. 

What were you doing there?

— I was there to support my colleagues on our sustainability and scientific brand content, highlighting in particular our strategy toward circular beauty. And, it was resonating a lot; people were very attracted by the context of the upcycled ingredients. It’s not yet fully understood, but resonates very positively from a circularity point of view.

What else did you see at the fair?

— We had about 65 meetings over three days, so not much time to walk around. I did see sustainability in a way, but various levels of communication from brands having a low profile up brand stating high the B-Corp certification, a certification we are aiming for by next year, and right now entering the verification phase.

When you go to those places, it becomes quite clear how far ahead we are in the Nordics.

— Yes. We’re also distributed on boats and we had many discussions with ferry lines. The boat cruise industry is now deep into sustainability and it’s just getting more and more to go towards net zero. And, more and more consumers on these boats are more environmentally conscious, so these customers (retailers, Ed’s note) also want to portray brands that bring this image in the boat or in the store. That’s why I think we were quite well-appealing for many.

This means that you can be shown as a good example in their ’environmental transition’.

— Yes, indeed. And many of them didn’t know much about us. They said that it would be nice to have some new, trendy brand. So, what I was testing with them was the circular beauty, what does it mean? So, in all the meetings, I had 5-10 minutes to explain to people before my sales colleagues took more of the business part. So, I had time to explain that we start from Nordic nature where upcycled ingredients play a part, to introduce the journey to circularity. We are pushing that further with the production, where we use renewable water power and district heating, which is renewable as well, and the biobased plastic in packaging. And we want to continue the journey, explaining that we should transition from linear to circular — no choice.

Inside Lumene’s new flagship store at Helsinki-Vantaa airport.

It’s also good for the retailers which can be perceived as early adopters when including circular products in their stock.

— Yes, and with some of them, we were also discussing the Scope 1, 2, and 3, CO2 emission reduction, and Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to 2030 and net zero by 2050. With some of the retailers, this is a daily discussion and coming high on the agenda. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is coming into force next year, or in two years time for us as an SME. This will have a big impact when 11,000 companies in Europe have to report their initiatives and it will be under a similar framework. So visible and transparent, and I guess the comparison will be more visible.

— In Cannes, however, this was not the biggest topic but instead, the fact that we are back to business pre-Covid. That was the core. And the overall ambition was growth, which is great. But it’s also about how we are growing. We need to grow differently. That’s what we want. And the north of Europe is definitely much more into sustainability and focusing their efforts towards the environment. In the rest of the world, I think it’s still not there.

When Mavon joined Lumene a few years ago, he pushed for the brand to start pointing out the amount of upcycled ingredients.

— I said that we should put it on the outer packaging as soon as it is above 10%. The point is not to be 99% upcycled as we can be on the amount of naturally derived ingredients, but if we have it, why not tell it? And, most of the ingredients are sourced from Finland. They are not the cheapest ones, but they are great, and we have a local, shorter supply chain which is also a benefit.

Earlier this year, the Glow Boost Essence launched as Lumene’s first product pointing out the mentioned percentage, around 70%. Also just released is the new biobased jar.

— We have found oil in the forest in Finland, Mavon shares. It’s a side stream from the forest industry, tall oil, which is the base for the chemistry to create a plastic. It’s the same plastic as from fossil oil but the source is biobased and renewable. We launched it in August and now, all our 50 ml jars in the core range will have them, moving away from a fossil plastic origin. We are now on the calculation and it’s a bit complex but we will reduce emissions in the range of 20 to 30%.