Beauty Report: Conscious consumerism a trend to watch

By Janetta Mackay

Conscious consumerism is a trend that keeps growing

From collection to processing, making coconut oil for export in Samoa provides jobs.
From collection to processing, making coconut oil for export in Samoa provides jobs.

When people ask me what I do these days, I'm apt to joke "I just write about lipstick." As a long-time journalist, this mid-life career change may sound - as it is - a bit of a lifestyle choice, not the serious stuff that got me started and kept me in newsrooms nights and weekends.

Switching focus isn't just a chance to lie down on a day job. Although I admit to the odd facial, the serious side of things is more about tracking consumer trends. As with fashion, our individual investment in the beauty industry is an expression of how we see ourselves and how we want others to see us. That makes the underlying sociological impulses way more interesting to me than, say, which colours are in or out. It's a challenge to try to cover both. Viva's discerning readers - and you, our exciting new online audience - share this need to know not only what is happening, but to find out why and to discuss it.

Just last week, I was party to one of those fascinating discussions when I talked fair trade with two dynamic women. Adimaimalaga Tafuna'i is co-founder and executive director of the Samoan Women in Business Development organisation which supplies more than 20,000 kilograms of coconut oil to The Body Shop each year.

The partnership, she told me during a visit to Auckland with Christina Archer, senior buyer in The Body Shop's community fair trade team, meant many villagers now had a steady income. The Body Shop team sources ingredients from across the developing world and the resultant products, including big-selling coconut body butters, find a receptive market in 60 countries.

Conscious consumerism is a trend the women are delighted to say is growing. Whether you put the rise in fair trade sales - notably led by coffee and chocolate and increasingly beauty ingredients - mostly down to a genuine shift in buyers' attitudes, clever marketing or the feel-good factor of spending that salves the conscience is open to debate, but at Viva we applaud it.

It's good to hear that it has having positive results in our Pacific part of the world. Tafuna'i says that when shoppers buy Samoan coconut fair trade products they "are helping a family to be able to live a sustainable life." Archer urges: "Ask where your products come from, at the end of every supply chain there are people there."

* Look out for Viva Beauty Editor Janetta Mackay's weekly report every Tuesday

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