The report looked at the top ten holding companies for luxury brands and ranked them according to their own sustainability reporting, as well as the way they have been judged in the media and by non-governmental organisations. This is the first time that anyone has conducted such an analysis, and none of these holding companies scored well. The best performer, L'Oréal, scored a C+; many of its competitors failed even to achieve a pass grade.
The report highlights that many luxury consumers are part of an affluent, global élite that is increasingly well educated and concerned about social and environmental issues. These consumers use luxury products as a symbol of success. The definition of success and the way it is perceived by others is changing. Increasingly, successful people want the brands they use to reflect their concerns and aspirations for a better world. This is true not only in Western luxury markets, but, increasingly, amongst the affluent middle classes of Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Anthony Kleanthous, Senior Policy Adviser for WWF-UK, said: This report is a call to action for the world's top brands to improve the way they do business. Luxury companies must do more to justify their value in an increasingly resource-constrained and unequal world. Despite strong commercial drivers for greater sustainability, luxury brands have been slow to recognise their responsibilities and opportunities. We call upon the luxury industry to bring to life a new definition of luxury, with deeper values expressed through social and environmental excellence. Their performance and progress on environmental, social and governance issues should be comprehensively measured and reported."
Hollywood stars like Sienna Miller have shown that they have strong convictions about the environment and take personal action to combat damaging environmental impacts. The report challenges celebrities to make the same decisions about the products they endorse commercially as they would in their personal lives. WWF is launching a new "Star Charter" for celebrities to adopt, committing them to consider the environmental and social performance of the brands that they endorse.
Anthony Kleanthous, said: "The world of celebrity leads by example and generates an aspirational desire for branded products. These stars have the responsibility to make sure that the brands they are endorsing are not damaging the planet. Let's face it, who wants to pay extra for a dirty brand?"
1. WWF is now known simply by its initials and the panda logo.
2. The WWF-UK luxury company ranking is of the self-reported performance and public reputation on environmental, social and governance issues. It incorporates two categories of information: first, what companies themselves report to the ethical investment community about their environmental, social and governance performance; and second, what non-governmental organisations and the media and have been saying about them. The first data source is from the Ethical Investment Research Service EIRIS, a non-profit, independent research organisation, the second from Covalence, a Geneva-based research house. WWF-UK turned this data in numerical scores, to create a total maximum possible score of 100. Each company's score out of 100 is expressed in our ranking as a grade between A+ (best) and F (worst). The data was compiled in 2007 for performance during 2006.
3. To help endorsers to make the right choices, we have prepared a "Star Charter", comprising the following six principles that call on celebrities:
· To recognise their potential to influence consumer behaviour.
· To encourage both consumers and companies to be aware of the social and environmental aspects of their activities.
· To consider the social and environmental performance of companies before endorsing them.
· To obtain independent expert advice on that performance before endorsing companies.
· To address any public concerns over the social and environmental performance of the brands that they currently endorse.
· To tell professional colleagues about their commitment to the Star Charter.
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