Students reach UK final of global L'Oreal competition

03 June 2020

  • Team of WBS students reach UK final of global L'Oreal competition
  • L'Oreal called for ideas to build a plastic-free beauty industry
  • Trio designed industry-standard reusable packaging
  • The idea would cut amount of plastic used in the supply chain

Three MSc Marketing & Strategy students beat more than 100 other teams to reach the semi-finals of L’Oreal’s worldwide Brandstorm competition.

Mustafa Saeed, Lefteris Christou and Felix Johannsen were one of just 13 teams to make the UK final in the annual competition that attracts more than 40,000 students from 65 countries across the world.

The Brandstorm competition called for students to produce an innovation for a plastic-free beauty industry and the WBS trio decided to focus on the supply chain.

Felix, 27, of Germany, said: “We developed a supply chain model that eliminates plastic-use across the cosmetics industry by creating an industry-standard refill concept. The packaging is designed to be cleanable and refillable. Thereby, this solution solves the problem that plastic can only be recycled a certain number of times before ending up as waste.

“We think being environmentally-friendly is a collaborative process. We wanted to bring together many important players of the industry in a way to create a new standard and inspire other players to act similarly.

“We are all concerned and passionate about the environment hence we thought the competition was a great opportunity. Passionate for change, we wanted to provide our ideas to create a world free of plastic and so developed a model specifically for the beauty industry, which is unfortunately one of the most polluting industries globally. We thought such an opportunity is a great way to not only demonstrate our way of thinking but to raise awareness for such an important topic.”

Innovators: (l-r) Fleix Johannsen, Lefteris Christou and Mustafa Saeed on a Zoom call

The winning team in each country or region then moves into the final to pitch their idea to L’Oreal executives, which were due to be at the company’s headquarters in Paris on June 23 and 24, though that depends on restrictions surrounding the pandemic.

After reaching the UK final the WBS team were able to refine their idea with e-learning sessions provided by L’Oreal. Although, after pitching their idea to L’Oreal executives online alongside a five-minute video, they weren’t chosen to represent UK in the final, the team felt it had been a valuable experience.

Mustafa, 21, of Canada, said: “It is disappointing not to reach the world finals, but we have learned so much from entering this competition and the fact we came so close, with L’Oreal really liking our idea, has really inspired us to do more to help industries become greener. It is a huge issue, one that our generation has to solve if we are to save the planet.”

Lefteris, 23, of Cyprus, added: “We all come from different countries and we’ve been able to leverage our wide range of experiences throughout the project. I have been able to leverage my background in marketing consulting, Mustafa was able to leverage his experience in FMCG marketing and Felix used his background in supply chain management.

“Together, we were able to learn from each other and embrace our differences in the way we see the business world. It was a great opportunity to use our cultural awareness, creativity, and project management while developing a friendship with one another.”

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