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Lush Abandons Social Media in the UK

Danielle | Friday 12th April, 2019

This week, LUSH announced that they will be closing down all of their UK social media accounts.

Seemingly, Lush customers are not too pleased with the announcement, as many took to Twitter to complain. Many of them state that Twitter is a much easier communication channel and that they weren’t as likely to check their emails.

Meanwhile, the marketing industry seems a little shaken as several have taken to social to put in their two cents and generally, opinions seem divided.

So we asked around the office to get some thoughts on the matter, and it turns out our opinions are a little divided too!

Danielle Wright – Marketing Executive

“It’s certainly an interesting move. I find it difficult to believe that they are cutting out social media simply due to algorithms. Having directly messaged Lush about this, they’ve confirmed that the UK stores will be keeping their social accounts active, at least for the time being.
As a Lush customer, Lush UK closing their account won’t affect my purchase decisions. I get all of my LUSH news directly from my local store Instagram accounts as they have a very active and creative social channel. They also already have active influencers such as AllThingsLushUK on Instagram, she posts product reviews and runs a LUSH product dedicated blog.

It’s an odd one from a marketing point of view, it seems strange that they would cut down a direct line of communication with their customers. Especially Twitter which their customers use actively to contact them. Although they claim they’ll be introducing ‘Lush Community’ so seemingly they aren’t canning social entirely.

The timing is interesting, as Instagram is in the process of adding a purchase now option that allows users to buy brand products direct from social without going to the website. Obviously, it’s too soon to say whether brands will benefit from this feature. But it’s something that definitely has a potential to boost sales, simply just for its convenience. And Lush are exactly the kind of brand that could benefit from this feature.

Lush say they have alternative social plans in place, so it will be interesting to see what these are and how it affects their brand image going forward.”

Steve Holmes – Head of Digital Marketing

“I’m definitely not in the camp that feels that all companies should utilise every social media channel to maximise exposure but conversely, social remains the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to get your marketing messages out to your target audience so reducing activity in this growing arena seems a little rash. 

If Lush feel that the time and effort spent managing their main social channels isn’t providing sufficient return then it’s a straightforward business decision, but as others have pointed out in the article, have they really tried everything to make it work first? Why not focus on using Facebook and Instagram purely as a sales channels rather than brand awareness or customer service channels – the tools are available to do so.

This is a high profile consumer brand in one of the most active product sectors in the social space and their target demographic is among the most prolific social media audiences – modern social media is made for companies like Lush.

The main reason cited in the Drum article for this decision is that Lush resents having to pay to get their social posts in front of their audience.

Which other marketing channel don’t you have to pay for? What we get in return for our spend on social channels is undervalued digital advertising and some of the most powerful targeting options advertisers have ever seen, allowing us to get our message in front of exactly the right persona. Embracing the opportunity presented by social media’s paid options rather than seeing it as battling against algorithms would surely have served Lush better?!

What I can’t argue against is the decision to focus more on influencer marketing - it’s a growing area and the return from it is easily quantifiable.  Lush already has a group of dedicated, popular brand champions on Facebook and Instagram and it makes total sense to try and grow this community.

The other thing to note is that the whole UK marketing community is currently talking about Lush, including us, so maybe this announcement was just a very clever PR stunt and we’ve all been had, in which case well done Lush!”

Michael Butler - Junior Creative Artworker

“Lush's decision to cease all social media activity is nothing short of brave. Brave, because people like myself are going to look too far into it and perceive the move as nothing but a way to stay current, with a sharp twist of irony.

However, they are directly addressing a significant issue, and that is the algorithms social media platforms use to show you the content they think you want to see. Although this sounds ideal, it can limit the content you see from people and companies even if you follow them, forcing many users to pay for sponsored adverts to keep their head above water– which is exactly why Lush has decided to call it quits. 

In my opinion, Lush has done it the right way, by channelling customers towards their website. Here, there are direct contact lines to the customer service teams, cutting out social media teams who often have to act as middlemen between the customer and the company. In addition to this, they are soon to introduce Lush personalities; individuals that work for the company with an online presence, allowing one-to-one engagement with customers. 

Time will tell if this is a successful business decision, but on a social level, Lush are leading the way.”

Chris Kell – Director

“The last high-profile social media detachment was JD Wetherspoons, the Pub chain. Like the news about Lush, that generated a lot of PR and noise, including across the very channels Wetherspoons were leaving.

Was it a success? You’d have to ask Tim Martin who owns the chain and was very vocal about the time being wasted on Twitter et al. Taking a look around online, there isn’t anything in follow up to the news reports from April 2018 when they left the platforms. The most recent news report about Wetherspoons last week indicates a number of pub closures – it’s unclear if there is any connection.

Lush’s decision is quite different, as rather than turning their back on social media, they are instead focusing their time and efforts on influencer outreach. There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to the cost of social media marketing, part of their reasoning was not wanting to pay to appear in people’s news feeds – but paying influencers to push out content is just another way of paying to reach people’s news feeds.

Influencer marketing is incredibly powerful, it’s something I wrote about in a LinkedIn article back in 2015 so it’s now matured into a genuine and widely used marketing technique by big and small brands.

Like many things in life though, I believe in a well-balanced approach, yes do influencer marketing, but it doesn’t have to be at the cost of all other social media activity. Why not retain and maintain your accounts with reduced or zero paid promotion, whilst spending  instead with influencers? Reaching out to your customers where they are hanging out online is really important to any business (especially if your audience includes Millennials), and if you’re not part of the conversation you may find you soon drift out of people’s thoughts.

If nothing else, it’s been lots of PR for Lush, time will tell how successful this move may be for the business.”

Wilf Geldart – Director

“Fascinating to read about Lush leaving social media and saying cheerio to a reported 569,000 Instagram and 202,000 Twitter followers this week. Perhaps the most surprising thing was the company telling people in their farewell to social media that ‘you can speak to us via live chat on the website, on email and by telephone’ - what’s wrong with wandering into one of their 105 nationwide stores and talking face-to-face with someone …. and maybe even buying something while you’re there?

On the surface, it does seem quite odd to end your relationship, albeit virtual, with such a large, relevant audience. But let’s be clear, Lush aren’t stupid, and I would like to think a decision like this was arrived at after some very sophisticated customer analysis. Without that data, all that the rest of us can do is to guess at Lush’s reasoning. Ultimately though it must come down to the effectiveness of social to measurably drive sales and generate a return and they obviously don’t think it does.

So, it will be fascinating to watch Lush sales figures over the next few months, if they (bath)bomb as a direct result of this decision, there may well be some furious backpedalling. But if sales remain the same or even increase, there’ll be a lot of marketing directors up and down the country being asked some uncomfortable questions by their boards.

One thing’s for certain, it’s a brave decision. But I’ve got a tenner that says Lush won’t be the last big company to turn their back on social media......”

Sara Armitage – PR Manager

“The article does say that they are not totally abandoning social media but some of their channels.

Personally, I think it is a good move, one that emphasises both their company ethos and value and one that echoes the feelings of many in that social media is not always a good thing.  

As a community both locally and globally we are losing the ability to communicate properly, face to face and verbally.  Many young people don’t want to speak directly to people because it is outside their comfort zone.

Building a brand is not just about the money.  It’s about being at one with your target audience and building a relationship.  A ‘like' or an Instagram post is not building a relationship.

Lush is a very ethical company and I think this underpins their values and it’s great to see a brand stick up for its values.  The high street needs all the help it can get and if they can encourage more people to interact and get out and about, then it's a good thing.

It is finding a balance - using social media for some aspects but not relying on it for all aspects of communication, there is no substitute for a one to one conversation.”

All in all, it’s too soon to say what kind of impact this will have on LUSH if any at all. But it’s a bold move, to say the least, and we’re interested to see what lies ahead.

 

Resources

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/improve-your-website-optimisation-influencer-marketing-chris-kell/

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/04/09/lush-abandons-social-media-its-getting-harder-talk-customers

 

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