In 2021, the British beauty brand Lush quit several social media platforms for good, fed up with the volatile power that platforms wield along with issues of privacy. But the brand has found ways to stay on top of the conversation, despite not having a presence on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok.
In March, Lush hosted a major activation at South by Southwest, focusing on digital divestment and featuring talks with Lush execs, whistleblowers and privacy activists. In March, Annabelle Baker, global brand director at Lush, described the activation as “a little bit of a prod” to the tech audience in Austin for SXSW. Now, three months later, Baker said she’s immensely proud of the activation.
“SXSW was the big one for us this year,” Baker said. “We told a great story about our brand, we debuted on [virtual world] Decentraland, and we premiered some new consumer technology.” The tech was a floating bath robot with built-in Bluetooth speakers.
Baker and Lush have been evangelists for both brands and consumers to reduce their reliance on social media. Right now on the brand’s Instagram and TikTok pages are single posts with the message “Be somewhere else.”
Lush has continued to grow, despite its lack of a social presence. In December 2022, the brand set its own single-month revenue record with over $50 million in sales
“There’s a lot of diminishing returns in social media advertising,” Baker said. “People are falling out of love with social media in a lot of ways. We don’t agree with the way Google ads work, [specifically] the way they can make money off your brand value. And people are starting to become more aware of the harm these platforms can do.”
Instead, Baker said her focus has been on big top-of-funnel marketing moments like Lush’s collaborations with entertainment franchises including Super Mario Bros. and the Japanese manga series “One Piece.”
Baker said her next priorities include strategically promoting some of the causes that Lush supports, like indigenous rights in the U.S. and LGBTQ rights in Japan and the U.K. She’ll also be advocating for the end of animal testing in the cosmetics industry. “We will get more in the campaigning field,” she said. “We want to show up, talk to people and support our causes. We’re a real brand made by real people, and these are real issues we care about.”
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