In our 2013 CSR trends round up, we commented on companies turning to unlikely partners to solve complex CSR issues, including Nike's partnership with NASA, the U.S. State Department and USAID. Now, the power of unexpected alliances reemerges, this time in a collaboration between two of America's biggest retailers – who just happen to be direct competitors.
Retail rivals Walmart and Target are coming together in the name of beauty. The two organizations will co-host the first-everBeauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Summit organized by Forum for the Future in September. The Summit will bring together stakeholders from across the beauty and personal care space to "map the landscape in which companies and organizations are operating, [and] explore common concerns" all with an end goal of providing consumers with safer and more sustainable options. Although the Guardian is quick to point out Walmart and Target's previously divergent approaches to sustainability, and participating parties have been mum on specifics of the event, the Summit has the ability to kick-start a common language and approach to product ingredients and sourcing among suppliers and competitors. With two of the largest purchasing powers in health and beauty at the table, the impact could be massive.
This new collaboration has the potential to set a new precedent for how competitors can work together to solve CSR issues, moving from rivals to teammates in the journey toward collective and mutually beneficial innovation. Although it remains to be seen what the end product of the Summit will be, or if continued partnerships will emerge, the alliance has certainly piqued the interest of CSR thought leaders across industries. Stay tuned to see what co-created solutions what will result from this meeting of the minds.