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Published by:
IBS Center for Management Research (2007)
25 pages
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This case is about the issue of sustainability rhetoric and greenwashing. In March 2006, The Body Shop International Plc, a retailer of natural-based and ethically-sourced beauty products, announced that it had agreed to an acquisition by the beauty care giant L''Oreal SA in a cash deal worth £652 million (US$1.14 billion). The announcement brought in its wake a spate of criticism against Body Shop and its founder, Dame Anita Roddick. This case discusses the reactions of consumers, activists, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) experts to the acquisition of Body Shop by L''Oreal. The acquisition throws up questions such as: Is Body Shop guilty of greenwashing? Does it have the influence to extend its values to L''Oreal. The case also looks into the issue of whether L''Oreal was trying to improve its own image and to buy CSR through this deal. The case will help students to: (1) understand the issues of sustainability rhetoric and greenwashing with regard to the acquisition of Body Shop by L''Oreal; (2) understand the challenges faced by a company in building a corporate image and brand on the social marketing concept; and (3) appreciate the importance of the cultural and CSR factors in mergers and acquisitions vis-a-vis financial and strategic parameters. This case is intended for use in MBA / MS level programmes as part of the business ethics and corporate governance course. It can also be effectively used as part of the business strategy and marketing management courses. The detailed teaching note includes: (1) the case summary; (2) immediate issues; (3) basic issues; (4) teaching objectives and methodology; (5) questions for discussion and analysis; (6) case feedback; and (7) additional readings and references.


The Body Shop International PLC; Natural-based and ethically-sourced beauty products; L'Oreal SA; Dame Anita Roddick; Corporate social responsibility (CSR); Greenwashing; Consumerism; Mergers & acquisitions (M&A); Consumer advocacy activism; Environmental management; Beauty care; Animal protection and testing; Community trade product; Product boycott; Business ethics
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