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‘Be somewhere else’: the plead by Lush to leave social media

Written by: Shirin Giordano & Julia Kalus

@lush on instagram

Social Media platforms take up more of our time than we would like to admit. As screen times go through the roof, also affected by the pandemic and lack of social connections in person, certain brands have decided to take the opposite route and opt for a clean break off socials. One of these brands is the very popular Lush Cosmetics, which announced that it would quit platforms such as Facebook, Tik Tok and Instagram the day after Thanksgiving 2021. The timing was not random but lies in the claim that this is usually the period when brands increase their social media presence in time for the holidays shopping.

Lush’s desire to leave social media has been claimed to go hand-in-hand with the philosophy of the brand and aims at the promotion of the well-being of their customers. The product inventor at Lush, Jack Constantine, says that their products are made to ‘help people switch off, relax and pay attention to their well-being”, whereas social media platforms ‘have become the antithesis’ of that [1]. 

The concern regarding the effect that spending time online has on people followed from the allegations against Facebook by Frances Haugen, who claimed that profit is seen as more important by the company than public good [2] [3]. Haugen perceives herself as an educator in raising the awareness about the harmful effects of social media. She did not only present her views on social media platforms, but also in front of regulators, lawmakers and tech companies [4]. One of the arguments by the whistleblower to the Members of the European Parliament was that Facebook contributes to “making hate worse” [5]. Another relevant observation was that usage of the app creates an addictive cycle, in which users, especially young ones, are not able to stop even though it makes them unhappy, and because of this miserable state they continue on using the platform in order to distract themselves. 

Despite the fact that all the arguments made by Haugen were relevant and valid, profits of Facebook rose nonetheless by 20% that year [6]. Therefore, the question remains whether the action of Lush to leave social media and bring customers’ attention to its bad influence is even effective. The claims of Haugen created a huge scandal as the debate was taking place in the public domain. Nonetheless, it only led to creating gains for Facebook. 

Lush is a cosmetic brand which is directed towards very specific consumers, therefore it is unlikely that its absence from social media will gather that much attention. The only way in which it could happen, is if other companies would follow, which is very unlikely taking into account the potential financial losses, as according to Forbes,  the move to leave social media could cost the cosmetics company Lush $13M in sales [7].

The resolution to remain offline, although Lush is still present on Twitter and Youtube, will stand for a year or until companies strengthen their practice guidelines and become safer for users [8].

Yet, Lush’s decision is not particularly new as it has been embraced by other companies. In January 2021 Bottega Veneta went offline and Balenciaga followed in June by deleting all their Instagram posts [9]. Since Lush was not a pioneer in its action, the question remains whether it is the beginning of the new trend. However, it looks as if it is very likely that companies will turn their backs to social media platforms.

Recently Elon Musk expressed mistrust into Facebook policies in his interview for Forbes [10]. Musk also decided to keep the Tesla brand off the platform. Such “Facebook exit” by such a popular and crucial market player might have interesting consequences. 

[1] https://edition.cnn.com/2021/11/22/tech/lush-quits-social-media/index.html

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/oct/24/frances-haugen-i-never-wanted-to-be-a-whistleblower-but-lives-were-in-danger

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/nov/23/lush-quits-facebook-instagram-tiktok-snapchat-social-media

[4] https://time.com/6121931/frances-haugen-facebook-whistleblower-profile/

[5] https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-59038506

[6] https://www.bbc.com/news/business-59046002

 [7] https://www.forbes.com/sites/markfaithfull/2021/11/24/lush-gambles-as-it-washes-its-hands-of-social-media/?sh=78a7b7ed44b0

 [8] https://www.forbes.com/sites/markfaithfull/2021/11/24/lush-gambles-as-it-washes-its-hands-of-social-media/?sh=78a7b7ed44b0

 [9] https://www.forbes.com/sites/markfaithfull/2021/11/24/lush-gambles-as-it-washes-its-hands-of-social-media/?sh=78a7b7ed44b0

[10]  https://www.marketingmag.com.au/hubs-c/what-will-happen-if-a-brand-quits-social-media/

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