Cosmetics brand Lush took the world by surprise as they announced their decision to quit social media. The British company is known for its trendy cosmetics that are handmade and cruelty-free. With over 900 stores globally, their unexpected exit has got everyone talking.
According to BBC, the brand's Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat pages will be shut down until further notice. It will continue to use Twitter and YouTube while looking for better communication avenues on the internet. It aims to stay offline for about a year, despite the potential losses it will suffer in the near future.
For Customers' Mental Well-Being
"Social media channels do need to start listening to the reality of how they're impacting people's mental health and the damage they are causing through their craving for the algorithm to be able to generate content, regardless of whether its good for the users or not," said Lush's chief digital officer and product inventor, Jack Constantine. The press statement added that this policy will be applicable in the 48 countries where it functions.
In the future, Lush stares at a massive loss. Constantine adds, "We already know that there is the potential damage of £10 million in sales and we need to be able to gain that back. We've got a year to try to get that back and let's hope we can do that." Earlier, the company had deactivated its account in 2019 as well but came back during COVID-19.
Despite the financial hurdle, the company wants to take this bold step to prove an important point. The Indian Express quoted the company's co-founder Mark Constantine Obe, "I've spent all my life avoiding putting harmful ingredients in my products. There is now overwhelming evidence we are being put at risk when using social media. I'm not willing to expose my customers to this harm, so it's time to take it out of the mix."
According to People Magazine, Lush has advocated for Black Lives Matter and supports other thoughtful causes such as sustainable environment, animal cruelty the LGBTQIA+ rights.
Influence On Teenagers
A majority of Lush's clientele are young teenagers. Their products, ranging from bath bombs to face masks and shower gels, are extremely popular globally. Recent years has seen a rise in customers buying wellness items. Several companies have come up with such products to cater to the increasing number of consumers. Lush has over 4 million Instagram followers and over 2 lakh Twitter followers.
During COVID-19, social media became a 'refuge' for the world. All platforms saw an unprecedented number of people using them to pass the time as they were in their homes with the pandemic-related restrictions in full force. However, complete exposure to social media has its detrimental impacts as well. Many parents were concerned about their children being glued to their phones throughout the day.
According to a report by Child Mind Institute, experts believe that teenagers become more anxious as they spend more time on social media. "There are key differences to socialising online. Teens miss out more on things like body language and facial expressions. This can lead to more misunderstandings and hurt feelings. It can also make talking in person more intimidating," said the study. Adding to this, Getting validation on the internet is another negative aspect. For a teenager, receiving 'likes' as reactions to their posts on social media boosts their confidence. The report explains, "Peer acceptance is extremely important for teenagers. It is easy to get caught up counting 'likes' on social media. And if the likes don't come, it can feel personal."
Online Safety: A Growing Concern
Social media has its pros and cons. While there are advantages to using the platforms, there are negative impacts as well. In October, Facebook's former data scientist named Frances Haugen took the world by storm, accusing the social media giant of giving profit more important than safety. Mark Zuckerberg's invention was blamed for 'inciting political violence, 'fuelling misinformation', and 'harming children.'
"Facebook products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy. The company's leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people," CBC News quoted Haugen. Further, she added that Facebook is losing its credibility and is not a platform anymore that 'brings people closer, but it rather divides people and spews hatred.
Looking at the recent developments, Lush's initiative is bold yet inspiring. The bath products company's resolve to deactivate the accounts was strengthened by Haugen's revelations. "We wouldn't ask our customers to meet us down a dark and dangerous alleyway- but some social media platforms are beginning to feel like places no one should be encouraged to go. Something has to change. We hope that platforms will introduce strong best practice guidelines, and we hope that international regulation will be passed into law. We feel forced to take our own action to shield our customers from the harm and manipulation they may experience whilst trying to connect with us on social media," the press statement said
What Future Holds In-Store
The brand will continue its pages on Twitter and YouTube. The microblogging site was flooded with netizens' reactions. While many believed that this is a step in the right direction, some stand by the fact that it is a PR stunt. Conjectures aside, the company hopes that the move inspires others to take this forward. Only time will tell how effective it will be in the long run. It is not an easy step to pursue, as it puts a brand's future in jeopardy.
However, keeping customers' well-being before their financial benefits will work for them in the coming years. The pandemic resulted in giving our mental health as much importance as its physical counterpart. It hopes to help its clientele with better communication avenues, and make social media platforms safer with an algorithm that brings people closer without any prejudice, rather than inciting unnecessary hatred that does more harm than good.