Philosophy in Cosmetics



LUSH: Philosophy in Cosmetics
Philosophy in Cosmetics
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I. Introduction

When marketing their products, cosmetic brands promise customers beauty or the fulfillment of dreams. The companies may use these elements:

  • Advertisements featuring beautiful, famous celebrities.
  • Dainty packaging that attracts female clientele.
  • Colorless, odorless ingredients to emphasize natural ingredients..

However, there is one company that has been wildly successful despite not using any of these elements: Lush.

  • Lush does not launch large-scale ad campaigns nor do they offer discounts or sales on their items.
  • Lush packages its products in simple black plastic tubs or brown paper.
  • Lush products are sharply scented and colorfully pigmented.

What makes Lush so special?

Lush’s unique identity reflects founder Mark Constantine’s philosophy and personality.

II. Lush’s Founder, Mark Constantine

Mark Constantine’s eccentric interest in environmental protection and herbology began at an early age.

  • Born in 1953, Constantine was thrown out of his home by his mother and stepfather when he was 16. He lived in the woods, living close to the wilderness and the plants found within.
  • Constantine grew up in Poole, a small town in the harbor of southern England. As an avid bird watcher, he was shocked when one day, he came upon a dead bird whose stomach was filled with litter.
  • Constantine proceeded to study trichology, the scientific study of the health of hair and scalp, and was hired onto a beauty salon that used hair products made with herbal, all-natural ingredients. He was heartbroken to learn that countless animals had to be sacrificed as test subjects when manufacturing the products he used.

→ Motivated by his experiences with nature, Constantine resolved to dedicate his life to protecting animals and the environment.

Initially, his attempts to launch an environmentally-friendly beauty line were unsuccessful. But his first two failures became valuable learning experiences that culminated in the creation of Lush.

  • First Business: In 1977, Constantine co-founded a company with beauty therapist Liz Weir Constantine and Weir, an all-natural skin care line. The company primarily sold hair dyes, body butters, and creams made entirely from fruits, vegetables, plants, and flowers. Constantine and Weir partnered with cosmetics and skin care company The Body Shop, and their products became an instant hit, but Constantine soon grew uncomfortable with the degradation of his company’s eco-friendly focus. He decided to sell Constantine and Weir to The Body Shop.
  • Second Business: Cosmetics to Go was an early incarnation of Lush that took the industry by storm with its unusual inventions. Minimizing the packaging and offering freshly-made products for delivery, Cosmetics to Go experienced a meteoric rise. Unfortunately, the company was ill-equipped to handle the wave of orders that came in, leading to its devastating fall soon afterward.

→ Two failed businesses later, Constantine was determined to start a business that would stay true to its core values. This led to the founding of Lush in 1995.

III. Lush: A Brand with a Philosophy

Two failed businesses later, Constantine established Lush, a brand which would embody his philosophies.

1. Manufacturing: The founding members of Lush produced the goods by buying the ingredients from grocery stores and making them in their own kitchens.

  • All-natural ingredients: Lush created their products [1]cruelty-free with all-natural ingredients. To secure the freshest, highest-quality ingredients, Lush opened a creative buying division. Members of the division traveled all around the world – for example, to Morocco – and took note of the suppliers’ testing and harvesting techniques.
  • Kitchens: Lush dubs their manufacturing plants “kitchens.” Because Lush products are preservative-free, their kitchens can only manufacture a meager 200~300 kg without risking the freshness of the products. Lush has opened kitchens throughout several continents to ensure the quick delivery of its easily-perishable products. CEO Andrew Gerrie has likened Lush’s manufacturing and distribution model to that of a bakery.
  • Handmade: Lush products are made not by machines but by individuals. Staying true to the company tagline, “Fresh Handmade Cosmetics,” Lush even labels their containers with an illustrated face of the employee who made the product.

2. Product: Constantine’s background as a hair designer and environmentalist rubs off on the creative, vibrantly colored, and fragrant products, which come in all shapes and sizes and are vegetarian.

  • Bold color and fragrance: Using his familiarity with hair dyes from his time working as a hair stylist, Constantine invented products that amplified the color and fragrance of their original ingredients. At first glance, the vibrant look and scent of Lush’s soaps, creams, etc. may be perceived as running counter to Lush’s identity as an all-natural cosmetics store. However, Constantine remains confident that this helps emphasize the fact that the products are [2]chock full of all-natural ingredients.
  • Creativity: Constantine hoped to bring joy to his customers the instant they used Lush’s products. This mindset contributed to the creation of some of Lush’s signature products, including their shower jellies and bath bombs(the brainchild of Mark Constantine’s wife, Mo), solid bars of sodium bicarbonate, citric acid, essential oils, and natural butters that fizz out and can produce an array of colors in the bathtub.
  • Eco-friendly: Because liquid products have to be stored in non-reusable plastic containers, Lush invented solid shampoos and perfumes to reduce their environmental impact.

3. Packaging: To reduce their environmental impact, Lush has tried to minimize their use of plastic, supplying what they call 'naked cosmetics.'

  • Lush’s soaps come in big blocks. When a customer decides how much they want to buy, an employee cuts off a chunk from the block, wraps it in recyclable paper, and hands it to the customer.
  • Black pot: Most fluid items come in Lush’s black pots. These tubs are made with recyclable polypropylene. The company offers customers a way to recycle used black pots by bringing empty ones back to the store for a free Fresh Face Mask for every five returned.

4. Stores: A key element of advertising Lush's brand identity.

  • Rather than hiring a celebrity to represent the brand, Lush has made their stores key to the company’s marketing strategy. Confident that the stores themselves are able to encapsulate the spirit of the company, CEO Gerrie once said in an interview that his strategy for expanding into the North American cosmetics market was simply, “to open many stores.”
  • To emphasize the freshness of their products, stores mimic the look of a grocery store, displaying items in stacks, without individual packaging. The pleasant fragrances emanating from Lush stores have also become symbolic of the company.
  • There is a relatively high density of employees per square foot of store space. Employees are also encouraged to familiarize themselves with Lush’s unique products so that they can help customers’ purchasing decisions.
  • Lush has attracted customers with unique performances. For example, they would place tubs in front of their stores, fill them with water and Lush’s bubble bath solution, and encourage passersby to wash their hands.

5. Ethics and campaigning: Lush has launched several campaigns aimed at raising awareness about and fighting against animal testing and human rights violations.

  • Palm-free campaign: Lush phased out its use of palm oil, which is harvested from trees of tropical rainforests. They then partnered with soap manufacturing company Kay’s to invent the first palm oil-free soap base. As a result, Lush has been able to eliminate their annual use of 250,000 kg of palm oil and has demanded that other cosmetic companies follow suit.
  • ‘Charity Pot’ campaign: Charity Pot was a hand and body lotion launched in 2007. Lush has donated 100% of the price of every Charity Pot to small, [3]grassroots organizations working in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare, and human rights. As of 2017, Lush has donated more than 20 million GBP (approximately 31 billion KRW) to over 5,500 grassroots charities.
  • Lush Prize: Every year, Lush awards 250,000 GBP (approximately 400 million KRW) to individuals and organizations around the world who work to end or replace animal testing. This is one of the biggest funds in the world in the field of animal research alternatives.

IV. Lush’s growth and international expansion

Lush’s quirky products and unique philosophy have won the hearts of many customers. The company currently operates over 900 stores in 50 countries.

  • Although the beauty industry is highly susceptible to economic downswings, Lush has seen 15% growth in revenue per annum in the past decade. Between 2015 and 2016, Lush boasted a 21% growth in revenue.
  • In a 2015 UK nationwide customer satisfaction survey, Lush [4]surpassed Apple and took first place. The 2016 ranking is not yet available.
  • Lush has been recognized by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for their environmental activism in the beauty industry.

Just as Lush stands firm with its philosophy, it has taken a unique stance on foreign expansion.

  • Though many distributors offered Lush favorable terms of entry into Korea, Lush chose Woo Mi-ryung as its Korean representative, even though she did not have any experience in business. The reason behind this decision was that her personal philosophy for beauty companies aligned with Lush’s. Representative Woo was invited to one of Lush’s kitchens, where she was taught how to make the products and given personalized training.
  • When Lush was trying to expand into China, the company was barred by local regulations prohibiting the sale of cosmetic products which had not been tested on animals. Lush immediately gave up entering the Chinese market.

V. For your consideration

Looking back on Constantine’s professional trajectory, we can imagine that he had several opportunities to make a lot of money. But because he stuck to his beliefs, he gave up his deal with The Body Shop and even rejected the opportunity to expand into China with Lush.

Lush was not afraid to voice its concerns about the environment and social causes. Some customers have even boycotted Lush for their LGBTQ rights campaigns.

Is Mark Constantine a good businessman or just a successful philosopher?

In addition, what are your thoughts on Lush being simultaneously a profit-maximizing firm and the focus of controversy?

Please take this time to discuss Lush and its controversies with your Ringle tutor.

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