Lush quits social media. The start of a trend?

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“We’re starting to see some pioneer brands moving in this direction,” observes Sabrina McPherson, senior managing director and management consultant for consumer products at digital transformation consulting firm Publicis Sapient. “People are looking for brands that live up to their values ​​and prioritize the right kind of relationship with customers over any relationship for the easy money. This requires a change in the measures of success, she continues. “You trade short-term income for long-term loyalty. “

For Lush, this decision was prompted by more general information about social media whistleblowers and the negative impact of algorithms on the mental health of users – an issue that is particularly relevant to Lush’s core demographic of young girls. “Social media weren’t designed to take care of people’s health, but our products are,” says Jack Constantine, chief digital officer of Lush. “It’s counterintuitive for us to use platforms that keep you hypertensive, engaged and anxious. “

Lucky second time?

Lush has already taken a stand against social media. In March 2019, the company announced that it was stopping – or, as Lush put it, “going social media” – tired of battling algorithms and unwilling to pay for news real estate. During the nine-month hiatus, Lush encouraged customers to engage with the individual social media accounts of its staff and stores, the Lush hashtags, its e-commerce site, and the Lush Labs app. After that, the pandemic struck and his digital team saw no choice but to return to social media.

Constantine recognizes that the company faced difficult choices. “We were a little ahead of the curve,” he says. “Social media is addictive and we had a hard time convincing our team to make the cold turkey. During the pandemic, stores were closed and social media was the best way to interact with customers, so we reused these tools. Now seems like a more stable time to re-establish our position and defend our digital ethics. “

As other brands sit back and watch, there are potential benefits to pioneering such a change. “This move will create a buzz for Lush, and people will start to see the company as a champion of this movement,” suggests Jared Watson, assistant professor of marketing at the Stern School of Business at New York University, but he stresses the need to stay. with her: “The fact that Lush has already tried this could undermine the perceived authenticity of this strategy. “

Risk versus reward

Watson argues that the growing apprehension and mistrust of social media gives companies like Lush the opportunity to create “an unbiased relationship” with customers, but it remains to be seen how that will play out in the future. long term. “If we adopt this hyper compartmentalized approach, there will be less search for variety on the part of consumers. It might instill brand loyalty, but it makes it harder for Lush to win back customers who differ for whatever reason. If all companies do, we could see a cyclical pattern of expansion and contraction of their own market – similar to the shift of digital media from fragmented TV channels to cable packages, and from individual streaming services to streaming packages. – so we will come back to where we are today.

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