Lush’s departure from social media: creative genius or strategic mess?

By Oliver Tunmore,

Earlier this week, one of the world’s most prominent names in natural beauty and skin products, Lush, announced its departure from mainstream social media channels.

In an Instagram post on Monday morning, which now has over 67,000 views and 1,000 comments, the company stated: “We’re switching up social – this isn’t the end, it’s just the start of something new. #LushCommunity – see you there.”

The announcement has shocked the PR, beauty and consumer world with its bold claims that the consumer is “too reliant” on the company, and that the decision has been made to “help encourage conversations from us the producers to you the consumers”.

Lush is not the first major organisation to make such a bold strategic decision, however. Almost a year to the day, JD Wetherspoon, a major UK pub and restaurant chain, released a similar story – claiming that for its typical customer, social media was not the favoured method of communication.

So, how is this move different?

Well, because, quite simply, it’s Lush! The brand is renowned globally for its visual, sensory reputation. The very essence of the brand is about the user experience – from sights and smells to touch and sounds. The main Lush Instagram account has over 570,000 followers – something many brands would struggle to ever achieve.

When asked how the world will receive product information or access customer service, the replies simply state “through our website and newsletter, along with the #LushCommunity hashtag” seeming somewhat blasé in its response.

While I personally can’t get on board with the idea, we do of course have to evaluate the potential reasoning.

Social media (done well) is an extremely time/resource-heavy tool for a company to successfully own. And with Instagram’s infamous, ever-changing algorithms, fighting for valuable screen time on social media is increasingly difficult to justify investments of time and money. So, strategically, and business-wise, it could potentially be the right decision.

Just because a company has over 550k followers does not, by any means, directly correlate to sales and return on investment.

That said, how can we the consumer actively support a company removing channels that are so heavily relied on by its customers? PR-wise, at least, I think it’s a nightmare waiting to happen.

I for one know that if I want to attain information about new product launches, store openings, or reach out to a company, my only thought these days is to go via social media. I genuinely cannot see Lush benefiting from this decision.

As a very-much-engaged consumer who regularly invests in its products, I struggle to see how this decision will work in the company’s favour in the long-run. For a company that argues that its customers are the most important part of its business, to then remove the main channel of communication just doesn’t sit right with me.

I can’t help but feel it is a step backwards in a time when the clear decision in the social media world, is forwards.

Image courtesy of flickr user Ted Eytan

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