Lush Cosmetics has grown significantly from its days of crowdsourcing product feedback from chatroom forums in the late 1990s.
While the U.K.-based beauty brand has since shifted to platforms like Instagram and Facebook to glean consumer insight, it’s managed to find success largely by word-of-mouth and a rabid cult following, much like its beauty peers including Glossier. Since launching in 1994, it has opened more than 900 stores in 48 countries, all while eschewing formal global advertising. The brand instead works to build its following on social channels and through video content that promotes efforts like ethical sourcing and social and environmental issues.
Brandi Halls, brand director at Lush North America, said Lush’s focus on leveraging brand ambassadors rather than using formal advertising was part of the company’s mission from the onset, when it allocated its preliminary meager funding into product development rather than flashy promotions. It has continued to evolve its strategy from the nascent social media days, focusing less on pushing brand messaging and more on connecting with shoppers.
“Social has continued to be a revolution,” she said. “When we first moved into Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, we started out like most brands, with one-way conversation and brand messaging. We realized that was not allowing us to nurture the community in ways that we want.”
Today, Lush has more than 3.3 million followers on Instagram and has inspired social media trends like the hashtag #bathart, which currently features more than 130,000 images of Lush’s popular bath bomb product. In turn, Lush repurposes this content on its own social channels and website, putting the spotlight on its consumers. It has also dabbled in Facebook Live, serving as an extension of its Facebook feature “Lush Live,” which it has used to share footage from events around the world.
A Lush Facebook Live video on bath bombs
To advance its digital efforts, Lush launched its first standalone app in spring 2016 to allow consumers to shop the store and read editorial content pulled from the “Stories” section of its website. Halls said that next on the docket will be revamping the website this spring to make it more editorially driven, taking a cue from brands like Dollar Shave Club which have launched spinoff publishing arms. In the U.K., Lush currently has a 10-person editorial team that works on a smattering of content projects, including a print magazine called the Lush Times and a variety of video documentaries.
“We’re looking at how we can take our e-commerce platform and change it into a publishing platform,” Halls said. “What we want to try to do is take that content and weave it more into the shopping experience so consumers can also learn and experience the values of the brand.”
Images from the Lush mobile app
While Lush still generates most of its revenue at brick-and-mortar stores, updates to its app and site will focus on how to bring the in-store experience to digital. Lush plans to integrate short video clips on how to use products and information about ingredients on its app to educate users. It will also continue to leverage the app to boost sales of its Charity Pot lotion, the proceeds of which go to an array of charities, as well as communicate its commitment to cruelty-free, handmade and ethically traded products.