Lush Ditched Social Media. Who’s Next?
Last Tuesday, on November 23, Lush Cosmetics announced that it would deactivate its Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, and Snapchat pages until social media platforms “can provide a safer environment for their users.”
“We wouldn’t ask our customers to meet us down a dark and dangerous alleyway – but some social media platforms are beginning to feel like places no one should be encouraged to go,” Lush’s statement reads. “We hope that platforms will introduce strong best practice guidelines, and we hope that international regulation will be passed into law. But we can’t wait. We feel forced to take our own action to shield our customers from the harm and manipulation they may experience whilst trying to connect with us on social media.”
Lush Cosmetics was founded in 1995, and is known for its unique handmade bath products. The UK-based brand leads with its ethics, promoting its use of fresh, organic ingredients in products that are cruelty-free. Lush co-founder and CEO Mark Constantine claimed that the brand’s decision to part with social media falls in line with these ethics. Constantine stated, “I’ve spent all my life avoiding putting harmful ingredients in my products. There is now overwhelming evidence we are being put at risk when using social media. I’m not willing to expose my customers to this harm, so it’s time to take it out of the mix.”
Constantine went on to tell The Guardian that he was “happy to lose £10m” in sales if it no longer means using media platforms that seed body image issues in teenage girls, as teenage girls are among the brand’s primary consumers.
On November 26, Lush officially logged off, leaving the following message on Instagram: “Be somewhere else.”
It was a bold move, but not without precedent. Lush distanced itself from social media in March of 2019 for nine months before renewing its engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic. The brand acknowledged this in their statement: “Like so many people have experienced before us, Lush has tried to come off social media, but our FOMO is vast, and our compulsion to use the various platforms means we find ourselves back on there, despite our best intentions.”
Lush’s YouTube and Twitter accounts will remain in operation, but it aims to “build better channels of communication elsewhere.” According to The Drum, Lush CDO Jack Constantine said that “it was Frances Haugen’s Facebook whistle-blower testimony that ‘strengthened’ [the brand’s] resolve” to cast off major social media platforms.
In early October, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen revealed that Facebook encourages the dissemination of “angry, polarizing, divisive content,” as it generates more engagement with the platform. “The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Haugen stated. “And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”
Haugen has previously worked for media companies like Google and Pinterest, but she says “it was substantially worse at Facebook” than anything she had seen before. Many have suspected that Facebook inflames polarization, but Haugen confirmed it.
Additionally, consumers are smarter than corporations like to believe. People respect deviation from the standard embrace of omnipresent marketing. Although Lush’s social media departure may impact its sales, there has been an outpouring of support for the brand’s decision. On a YouTube video posted by ABC News, top viewer comments read, “Never bought a Lush product, but now I’m intrigued to support them with this move,” and “I will deliberately shop here and embrace this decision with them as a company.”
It will be interesting to see how Lush fares, but it will be even more interesting to see whether other brands follow suit.