Management The Personal Touch – A case

Anita Roddick, founder and managing director of The Body Shop international demonstrates how much a manager’s personality and values can actually define the manager’s role and help to shape an organization The Body Shop sells products that cleanse and polish the skin and while it may appear to be a boutiques cosmetics company. It is really quite different.

The Body Shop was founded in 1976 by Roddick and her husband Gordon. At that time, the couple formed the business so Anita would have a means of supporting herself and their two children while her husband Gordon fulfilled his dream of riding on horseback from Buenos Aires to New York City. When Gordon left, Anita was operating a single shop in England; when he returned ten months later there were two shops with another one soon to follow.

By the early 1990s, The Body Shop had blossomed into a financial success. In 1992 The Body Shop boasted earnings of $265 million worldwide and enjoyed a 23 percent growth rate for the first half of 1993. As of November 1993, nearly 1000 Body shop stores were located around the world in 43 countries.

Many of Roddick’s personal values have influenced the Body Shop’s corporate culture. Indeed, the company is driven by her intense commitment – what she calls electricity and passion – that can’t help but engender enthusiasm and boost employee, customer, and community morale. At the same time, Roddick also focuses on her specific managerial responsibilities, primarily (thought not exclusively) product development and marketing.

Roddick’s use of marketing tends to distinguish The Body Shop not only from direct competitors but also from most other conies. The Body Shop does not spend money on consumer advertising. The organization is premised upon the belief that consumers are under-whelmed by the commercial hype already clouding the marketplace. The Body Shop therefore allocates promotional money to social activism instead of consumer advertising the old days we couldn’t afford (to advertise) recalled Roddick. Now we would be deeply embarrassed to. In a way, the organization’s refusal to advertise has become an element of the corporate culture.

Roddick does not market the company in a traditional way. Instead she aggressively pursues avenues through which the company can enjoy media coverage for free. In this way, the marketing of The Body resembles a political campaign I’m always available to the press, noted Roddick. I fervently believe that passion persuades, and I emit a lot of enthusiasm. Clearly Roddick recognizes the value of media coverage of The Body Shop. If I put our poster for coloring [a line of market] in the shop window that creates sales and profits, asserted Roddick. A poster to stop the burning of the rain forest doesn’t. It creates a banner of values. It links us to the community but it will not increase sales. What increases sale is boring Glamour magazine saying Princess Diana uses Body Shop products. Then we will get 7,000 phone calls asking for our catalog. You can measure the effect.

Roddick has also found that she must market herself as well as the company, and that the image she conveys is one that falls in line with the values she articulates. The staff doesn’t want me in fur coats or in big cars or acting like I’ve got the million dollars that I have said Roddick. They want me to be as I am. Other people, the City London’s Wall Street want me to be respectable. So you are dealing with multitudes of different people. There are so many planks in the platform of running a business.

It is Roddick who controls the press coverage, though not the other way around. She demonstrated her ability to create favorable coverage early on when The Body Shop first opened. Roddick opened the first store next door to a funeral home. When he received a formal letter of complaint from the neighboring undertaken, she leaked it to the press that they were ganging up on her – a struggling, female shopkeeper.

Attention to communication has played a major role in Roddick’s management of The Body Shop’s success. In the early days, Roddick felt it necessary to hide her true financial woes. I used to have friends call me when a potential franchises was arriving so I could have an absolutely ridiculous conversation. Ring, Ring Oh yes this is where you’d like the franchisee, Barry Street Edmonds? No, I don’t think it’s the right town for that. Besides we’ve already had 14 other applications. That went on all the time. This image of success that she fabricated soon turned into reality.