As Valentine’s Day approaches, makeup brand Lottie London wants to remind people that healthy and positive relationships are about consent.
On Wednesday, Lottie London launched a monthlong campaign called Consent to Kiss, wherein 10% of sales from the Valentine’s Day makeup collection will be donated to U.K. charity Brook, which is focused on promoting sexual health and well-being. Throughout February, Lottie London will also share Brook’s digital resources with its Gen-Z audience across Instagram and TikTok. That will include educational materials on what constitutes online sexual harassment, definitions of consent, and tips on what to do when sexually harassed online.
“Everyone talks about [dating and internet] scams, and what you should look for, and about data privacy. However, consent has not been spoken about widely enough,” said Nora Zukauskaite, marketing director for Lottie London. “Launching the campaign around Valentine’s Day shines a light on online dating and the threats and concerns we should be talking about.”
Between 2021 and 2022, Lottie London’s parent company, Brand Agency London, which also owns Ciaté London and Skin Proud, experienced a 15% year-over-year revenue increase, but brand representatives declined to share revenue. Aside from the partial sales donation, Lottie London did not put any additional monetary investment behind Consent to Kiss.
Zukauskaite said the Lottie London team examined top concerns for Gen Zers, including the cost-of-living crisis and mental health, and found sexual harassment was in the top five. According to a June 2022 Deloitte report, 17% of Gen Zers consider sexual harassment a top concern, compared to millennials who did not consider it as a top-five issue. Since Lottie London’s launch in 2014 (its U.S. debut was in 2017), the brand has carefully crafted a socially-conscious narrative focused on several issues that reflect the interests of Gen Z. Zukauskaite said that will be even more advocacy from Lottie London and its sister brands in 2023, with the next campaign coming out in late February for Skin Proud. Lottie London will continue to share Brook digital resources throughout the year, as it does with its existing charitable partner Kaleidoscope Trust, another U.K.-based charity which focuses on LGBTQ+ youth.
Over at least the past three years, beauty brands have become more comfortable tackling typically taboo topics like sexual harassment, though not necessarily influenced directly by Gen Z. In 2020, YSL Beauty launched its first global corporate-social responsibility program called Abuse is Not Love, which aims to combat intimate partner violence. And several brands, including Peace Out, Bliss and Kiehl’s, have worked with The Trevor Project, a charity that offers crisis support and suicide prevention to LGBTQ+ youth.
Like other trends, the events of 2020 accelerated CSR shifts, especially given Black Lives Matter and other global social justice movements. CSR first started out as typical corporate philanthropy before evolving into donation tie-ups based on product sales. For many brands, CSR is now more multi-dimensional. Brands that can make a definitive stance, even if it alienates some consumers, are ultimately rewarded over brands that try to appease everyone. Take, for instance, the problems former Disney CEO Bob Chapek faced in Florida with the state’s “Don’t say gay” bill, which partially contributed to his ousting by his predecessor, Bob Iger.
“The space we’re in now is about social purpose and brand purpose and tackling thornier or more controversial topics,” said John Trybus, a professor and managing director of Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication. “It’s led by consumers, who have that expectation of a brand. The price of admission no longer is just basic corporate social responsibility; it’s [brand] purpose.”
Lottie London’s efforts have contributed to growing its social audience and brand affinity, as well. The brand’s previous advocacy campaign in Oct. 2022, called Blood for Beauty, involved encouraging blood donation by allowing people to enter a giveaway for a seven-piece “Vampire Diaries” makeup collection by showing they had donated blood. The campaign boosted brand engagement by 127% and audience reach by 78% across TikTok and Instagram, compared to a previous campaign in June 2022. Lottie London maintains 162,000 Instagram followers and 144,000 TikTok followers.
“Gen Z is the generation that supports the social welfare of our world and the environment we live in,” said Zukauskaite. “We’ve noticed that this generation is observant and makes a [considered purchase] from a brand. Involving our community has been great for [our] branding.”