Why Lush Cosmetics Is A Business Genius
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Why Lush Cosmetics Is A Business Genius

A breakdown of the trendiest cosmetics company in the world.

Why Lush Cosmetics Is A Business Genius

Why Lush Cosmetics Is A Business Genius

I love Lush Cosmetics as much as the next twenty-something middle class woman. Not only do I think that they're a top-notch ethical company, but they do have fantastic and extremely marketable products. It's perhaps because I love this company so much that I wanted to actually take an in-depth look at why Lush Cosmetics is so successful. Certainly they have enjoyed what seems to be an overnight boom, but I don't think it's because of chance. In fact, many aspects of the company look to be deliberately constructed in order to drive sales. Well, I think that it's time to deconstruct these parts of the company and see exactly what it is that makes Lush the modern king of cosmetics.

  1. Quirky Products -- If you've ever walked into a Lush shop, you've no doubt been greeted by a rainbow of color and smells. Upon first glance, you might not even know what ever product is or how to use it. That's one of the appeals to Lush; their products are just different, and they're strangely beautiful. Lush claims to have invented the bath bomb in 1989 and they actually have a standing patent on the process of creating bath bombs. They even made “bath art” a thing. If you're willing to spend between $4 and $10 on one bath, you can be treated to an actual artistic display in your tub. And, no bath bomb is the same, meaning that you can try every single one they sell and still be surprised. Because Lush sells products that no one else does, they're not only selling you the ingredients in the products, but they're selling an experience. This is something that really makes people want to buy more—they can't experience all that Lush has to offer until they try every single thing.
  2. Scents and Scent Families -- The smell of a Lush shop (or a factory for that matter) seems to permeate everything around it. Spend twenty minutes wandering around the place and you'll go home smelling like a perfumery. The fact that Lush uses so many different and potent scents in their products is a real selling point for consumers (watch any Lush product review on YouTube and you'll see the reviewer smell the product about five times). On top of that, Lush not only creates numerous unique scents, but they have “scent families,” where various different and unrelated products will actually share the same fragrance formula. While this seems like a symptom of running out of ideas, it's actually an ingenious sales plan; once a person has tried a product that they love, they are more likely to buy an untried product simply because it smells the same as the other one. For example, I have tried numerous shampoo bars (solid blocks of shampoo) from Lush, but I had never tried their rose-scented one (“Jason and the Argan Oil”) until I fell in love with Rose Jam shower gel. Then, of course I had to pick up the rose-scented shampoo bar right away, because I realized that I loved rose.
  3. Seasonal Products -- Speaking of Rose Jam shower gel, Lush has this incredible habit of churning out seasonal products that are only available for a short time (Rose Jam shower gel is one of these). Unlike most cosmetic companies that only change the color of the product or the packaging for the holidays, Lush actually takes the time to create entirely new and unique products that are not available for most of the year. And, since each of these products sells an experience, consumers leap at the chance to buy the seasonal products, for fear that they won't get to again. Some seasonal products have garnered such hype that even the company acknowledges it. I'll use Rose Jam as an example again—when the holiday products came out, under the Rose Jam shower gel picture on the website, Lush had simply written, “It's back! It's back! It's back!” Some Lush reviewers even insist that some of the seasonal products are the best offered by the store (see Lord of Misrule bath bomb and the Buche de Noel facial cleanser, for examples). What's more, Lush doesn't just release Christmas products, but unique items for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day/Father's Day, Halloween, and even products for specific causes like LGBTQA rights. Consumers can't get enough.
  4. Appearance of a Grassroots/Hipster/Liberal/Philanthropic Company (Even If It Is True) -- As I just mentioned, Lush isn't afraid to get its hands dirty in certain causes (and then wash them off with luxuriously-scented soap, I'm sure). They're known to make special products to raise awareness for a crazy variety of issues, from welcoming in refugees to net neutrality to sandalwood smuggling, of all things. Their biggest call-to-action is to eliminate cosmetic animal testing, a cause on which their entire company is founded. And they even sell an (expensive!) lotion called Charity Pot, and all the proceeds go to various grassroots charity partners. Consumers love when companies actually seem to make a difference with their power, and consumers likewise feel that they are supporting these causes by purchasing Lush products. That makes Lush a go-to company for liberals, peace-makers, and bleeding hearts across the world (and I'm not saying that's a bad thing). It's an extremely smart business model.
  5. Low-Maintenance Facade -- This one is perhaps the biggest critique against the company, although it's still a gentle one. In this day and age, many young people are starting to see the benefit of scaling back cosmetic purchases and not putting so many chemicals on their skin and body. There are hoards of people who have turned to using baking soda as shampoo and apple cider vinegar as a rinse. Many are against the use of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a foaming agent, in shampoos. Because Lush comes across as all-natural, these low-maintenance consumers flock to their stores because it seems to be an effective answer to the chemical-laden products available at most drugstores. People feel like they can scrub their face with essential oils and crushed almonds, but they are still paying the price of a middle-scale cosmetic company. Take for example facial moisturizers. In my life I have used straight coconut oil as a moisturizer and it works as well for me as any other formula. However, I still like my Lush moisturizer, Imperialis, which is priced at around $26. This isn't necessarily a problem with the company, but the reason I call this a “facade” is because Lush does use what they call “safe synthetics,” meaning that they do sometimes include ingredients such as SLS. I should say that many people don't mind the use of synthetics in their cosmetics and that the use of synthetics can actually make these products better (it's the difference between washing your hair with oil and washing it with shampoo). But by coming across as a low-maintenance company, many people buy products from Lush not realizing how much of their product actually is synthetic.
  6. Environmental Appeal -- After the last one, I should say that Lush does do a terrific job at trying to be as natural as possible across the board (they've even reformulated products to be more natural the second time around). But one thing Lush has always done right is being aware of their environmental impact. Since the beginning of the company, many of their products have been packaging-free (bath bombs, for example). Even those products that do come in packaging use entirely recycled and recyclable plastics. They even promote the reuse of their containers by offering a free face mask to customers who return five empty pots to their store locations. Since they also make a huge effort to ethically and sustainably source all of their ingredients, I would have to say that Lush is one of the most ecologically friendly companies in the cosmetics industry. Again, it makes them hugely popular with liberal consumers and there is certain novelty to purchasing products without packaging.
  7. Sense of Humor with a Spine -- Lastly, I should say that Lush is an extremely British company (though they have stores all over the world, which is another very well-executed marketing step for them). Because they are so British, they also have a certain British sense of humor that goes along with their products. Not only is their website cheeky and wonderful, but there are some playful instructions on many of their products. Recently there was an uproar from a family in England that felt the instructions on the back of the Snow Fairy shower gel were too suggestive for their granddaughter (although the little girl didn't get what the instructions meant). When the angered family contacted the company to air their grievances, Lush responded with a hint of flippancy but a lot of respect and, to be honest, ballsiness. Their response was essentially that they weren't going to change the instructions, because while their products are aimed at all ages, they believe in putting in a “laugh...that adults will understand, but will go unnoticed by the young and innocent.” They also added that “In a world of bland corporate output, we hope to always take risks and raise a smile or two.” Considering that most companies would have stepped back to please their customer and changed the label, the fact that Lush owned their humor and style of marketing is a breath of fresh air. It shows that they are happy to be a company that follows its own way, even if not everyone likes it. And people want to support a company that knows what it is.

Whether you love Lush or love to hate Lush, this list was not meant to sway you the other way. It's simply an examination into Lush's business model and why the company has become so successful so quickly. One thing I can say, though, is that I truly believe Lush is a standout business in the modern world, and that they deserve the popularity they have gained in the last few years. If you haven't tried them out, it might really be worth your time and money. You might find you're actually a Lushie.

Just set yourself a budget and then go in and talk to their employees. They'll definitely have a recommendation for you.

Might I suggest a patented bath bomb?

Disclaimer: I do not work for Lush Cosmetics, nor am I being paid to endorse them. I simply like them.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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