by John Trybus, Managing Director

Every time I visit an Aveda store I’m always struck by three things: the smell (it’s intoxicating), the comforting tea they offer (it’s delicious!) and the knowledge that employees have not just about product benefits but also about the responsible sourcing of ingredients and environmental mission of the company.

Aveda is a beauty company with a mission that permeates deep into every corner, including the store level. That mission is communicated well and authentically to me the consumer, who also cares about the environment and as a result I’m persuaded to make a purchase. A shared values marketing platform in action – talk about success!

Today’s social strategist features a conversation with the man behind much of the environmental responsibility strengths of the company, Chuck Bennett. He’s Aveda’s vice president of Earth and community care.

“It’s very much about making sure we’re walking the walk,” Chuck says of his position.

“One day I may be working with our global supply chain folks on a relationship with a supplier someplace in the world and another day I may be engaged with our corporate giving folks to make decisions on donations. Another day I may work with our communications and marketing folks to ensure that what we’re saying is what we’re doing,” Chuck explains of his multidisciplinary (and busy!) role at Aveda.

Chuck’s passion for environmental sustainability started early in his life and career journey. That passion brought Chuck to Uganda in the late 1960s as a Peace Corp Volunteer which he says gave him “a much deeper and broader perspective on the world than I had growing up as a middle class suburban American kid.”

Chuck says that two golden rules in particular can be credited with the success of Aveda’s mission focused business model and environmental sustainability work: perseverance and consistency. Here’s a preview of the ways in which Aveda uses perseverance and consistency that Chuck and I discuss in our interview:

  • Celebrate company history so that everyone remembers why the mission is what it is. Environmental sustainability has “really been the core part of the brand from its founding and it’s really been very consistent,” Chuck explains. “When you go back through the history of the brand, those initial guiding principles [of environmental stewardship] have been woven into everything we do for more than 35 years.” The mother of Aveda’s founder was an herbalist by training, Chuck says, and that distilled in him “a great appreciation for plants and for the importance of the natural environment and biodiversity.”
  • Let the mission live everyday through consistent reminders. Small actions are important to ensure that a mission is a living statement. “Mission is very much a part of our ongoing communications – whether that’s repeating it at the beginning of meetings or monthly employee celebrations…[there’s always something that we do on a daily basis] that relates to the mission,” says Chuck. Take a peak at Aveda’s mission statement here.
  • Mission survives through people and hiring the right ones matters. Remember when I said Aveda store employees know a lot about the company’s mission and environmental approach? I meant it. The reason is clear: “In the hiring process we really try to identify people who are predisposed to the values that the brand holds,” says Chuck.
  • Doing ‘good’ is great, but it must track back to the customer and bottom line benefits. The societal benefit to CSR work and shared value marketing must be there, but it will not be a long lasting business strategy if the work does not contribute to the bottom line or help build brand affinity among consumers. Says Chuck: “In our brand equity surveys we find that one of the reasons that customers value the Aveda brand…is the long term and deep commitment to our mission related to the environment and social responsibility. Because it’s such a prominent part of the feedback from the marketplace it’s almost intuitive to management that we’ve got to walk the walk.”

To Chuck, it all comes back to perseverance and consistency:

“The strength of Aveda’s success and the reason we believe so many believe in and value our commitment to environmental and social responsibility is the fact that it has been consistent. It’s not always exciting, it’s not dramatic, it’s not always headline grabbing but it’s always there. In the long run, as companies try to build their presence in this arena of environmental and social responsibility that’s going to be a critical measure of ultimate success.”

Listen to my interview with social strategist Chuck Bennett to learn more about why perseverance and consistency are the key ingredients in the corporate environmental sustainability work of Aveda.