02 January 2007

Body Shop - ethical sales approach?

Just before Christmas I went shopping for presents with my younger son - typical male-bonding activity - drive, park, walk, find shop, buy, walk, go home. One of the stores we went to was Body Shop. I know that it has its admirers but I'm not one of them. Body Shop claims that its products aren't animal tested and takes the position that it is opposed to animal testing.

That may or may not be true, but at root the marketing proposition must rely on the fact that their ingredients have been animal tested at some point, although not by Body Shop and not in the formulations which Body Shop's product developers have created. In their heart of hearts, which of Body Shop's customers would answer yes to the question "would you like to be the first animal in the world to test this product?".

That qualifies as a dishonest sell in my opinion. None of us wants to be the first guinea pig to test the product range for all the other eager buyers. We may be quite happy to be the 100th or the 1000th or even the millionth. There was a furore last year when 6 paid volunteers suffered significant physical damage as part of a clinical trial. The drug company was villified for putting the volunteers at risk, but that's how life is - someone has to be the first.

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