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Guest Blog: Caroline Kerr

We’re so excited to spotlight junior business major and CCI minor Caronline Kerr on the CCI Collective this week. Caroline recently participated in the L’Oréal Brandstorm competition – an international university competition that asks students to reinvent the Beauty industry by tackling three business challenges: Inclusion, Technology, and Sustainability. Check out what she has to say about her journey through the competition below, and how she applied the CCI concepts she learned to create an innovative beauty product.

Photo of Caroline. Courtesy of Caroline Kerr.

Hi! My name is Caroline Kerr and I am a rising senior majoring in business marketing and minoring in CCI. I have been involved in the CCI program since the beginning of my junior year and with amazing professors like Jamie Larkin, I have discovered a passion for sustainability. Growing up in a small beach town in San Clemente, CA, I have always cared about keeping the environment clean. But it wasn’t until I took CCI 202 that I got a real insight into how important it is to change the core business model across multiple sectors of CCI. Through this insight, I gained the confidence to ‌disrupt the current business model of beauty in L’Oréal’s 2022 Brandstorm Competition.

L’Oreal Brandstorm 30th Annual Competition. Photo Courtesy of L'Oreal.

What is Brandstorm?

Brandstorm is a global innovation competition giving teams of three the opportunity to take on a real business case and innovate a new product for some of L’Oréal’s 24 international brands. They fly the winners of the competition to the L’Oréal headquarters in Paris to create the product for the company during a paid internship. Participants can choose 1 of 3 tracks: Sustainability, Technology, or Inclusivity. Globally, there were over 60,000 participants! My team had the honor of making it to the top 12 U.S. national finals representing the sustainability track, and here’s how we did it.

Why Sustainability?

Did you know that ⅔ of the world’s population may face water scarcity by 2025? When waters run dry, locals in affected areas don’t have enough to drink, wash, or feed crops, and economic decline is likely to occur. The beauty industry is a major contributor to this problem, since most products comprise 70-90% water. That’s why my peers and I created Sans Soleil, the first water-responsible spray-on sunscreen.

Sans Soleil Marketing Concept. Photo Courtesy of Caroline Kerr.

An important topic we reviewed throughout the course of CCI 202 is “corporate green-washing”. Coined by environmental activist Jay Westerveld in 1986, corporate greenwashing describes companies that highlight their sustainable practices, in order to distract from their unsustainable ones (Tsui, 2020). The number one consequence seen with this is consumers will believe they are helping the environment, when in reality they are unknowingly contributing to the problem. For this reason, we labeled our sunscreen as “water-responsible”. The sunscreen includes one reusable PCR plastic bottle and one pack of dissolvable rose petals. Customers then place one rose petal inside the bottle, add water to the fill line, and shake to give them long-lasting sunscreen. Creating the dissolvable rose petal ensures that for every refill purchased, one gallon of water is saved within the production process. The waterless formula also ensures a reduction of its weight, thus reducing the amount of fuel and carbon emissions within the supply chain. In order to have honest marketing campaigns, we created a display that would visually show consumers how much water they are saving per purchase. We believe this would draw in customers because they could visually see the effects of their consumption. And because aluminum is the most widely used metal for current spray sunscreens, our bottle comprises 100% PCR plastic. This eliminates the need for aluminum extraction, which has dangerously increased 214% from 2015 to 2020.

Hypothetical in-store display for Sans Soleil. Photo Courtesy of Caroline Kerr.

My team had a vision to create a sunscreen that was more sustainable than your day-to-day sunscreens like Coppertone or Banana Boat. We crafted this product for almost five months and worked closely with CCI professors like Jamie Larkin and Lisa Maracine, L’Oréal global marketing director Gabrielle Green, and business professor Mohammed Zia. Their guidance was crucial during this process and although we didn’t move on to the international finals, we got to create a never ‌before seen sunscreen that changes the way we use aluminum and waste water in the sunscreen industry. A quick reminder to my fellow CCI students out there, creativity expands beyond just music, art, fashion, and film! Finding innovative ways to change the culture of how we view an industry is creative within itself. This product went far in L’Oréal’s competition because we saw a problem, found a solution, and expressed this solution through innovative marketing campaigns that reflected our passion for sustainability. So if you believe in what you’re doing and truly care about making a difference, you’ll go far and originality will come naturally.

Even though her team did not make it through to the finalist round in the Paris competition, Caroline and her team were grateful for the opportunity to unleash their creativity and apply groundbreaking ideas to one of L'Oréal's international brands by reimagining a whole new product.

We would like to congratulate Caroline on all her hard work throughout this competition and if you or someone you know has any creative projects that you to highlight on the CCI Collective, please feel free to email them to and we’ll provide more information.

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