Lush takes social media stance

Posted 26.11.21

You will have seen the news by now, Lush the high-street cosmetic brand has pulled the plug on its social media activities closing down the brand’s global Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat account last Friday, 19th November. 

The brand cited concerns to its young follower-base following the revelations uncovered in the Facebook papers following whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony. The company put out a press release to explain the decision which read “In the same way that evidence against climate change was ignored and belittled for decades, concerns about the serious effects of social media are going largely ignored now”. 

In what seems a very honourable step Lush have looked to remove themselves from the social conversation whilst recognising that this will likely cost the brand a pipeline of young fans who then become advocates for the brand. CEO Mark Constantine suggested the cost in business terms could be more than £10M. He told the Guardian in an interview “I’m happy to lose £10 million by quitting Facebook” adding “we’ve tightened up over the Covid period, it won’t destroy us”. A bold proclamation and potentially an encouragement to other brands to follow suit. 

However, Lush has been here before with the UK brand closing its social channels back in 2019 citing that they no longer wanted to fight against algorithms – basically, the brand didn’t want to have to pay to reach its target audience. Obviously, the brand feels like they have other ways of reaching and retaining their audience and don’t need their own social channels – that said they are keeping their YouTube and Twitter (two highly toxic platforms but that’s another story). 

Zahra Hasan, our Insights Lead, adds that “brands are increasingly standing up for causes that they deem important and therefore aligning their values with their target audiences. This makes total sense as this is what young audiences especially expect from brands nowadays.” However, she adds “ this has to feel genuine and authentic and there’s a fine line. The cynical side of me feels like this is more of a publicity stunt as they’re bandwagon-ing on a cause but it doesn’t feel quite genuine for some reason.” 

Whatever the real reasoning, the long term effects could be damaging and the brand is in a fight for relevance especially amongst a younger audience with an array of challenger cosmetic brands growing huge online audiences and delivering year-on-year sales growth. In comparison, Lush’s turnover is down almost 20% YOY according to its own financial reporting and much of this is down to its bloated retail store base. With only 30% of its annual sales coming from online channels the brand has a lot of work to do.

By removing its direct communication channel with its most important audience and cutting off a massive potential sales channel the brand might find that their move, however honourable, is one they regret having taken. 

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