As a business, profit is arguably what is always going to come first. New products are launched based on client demand simply because it will help drive revenues. Formulas are reinvented to counteract the complaints of clients in order to increase sales. Such is the life of a business in a world where money drives every decision. Especially so in the cosmetics industry, where the market is immense and virtually every player in the industry is creating the same range of products. Because of this, sometimes companies make rash decisions, doing whatever it takes to drive a profit.
Such is the case of NARS. Now, I didn’t know NARS was actually cruelty-free until this past February. When I did find out, I rushed to Sephora and picked up every NARS product I had ever dreamed of trying. But, in what felt like an instant, their products were no longer fair game. NARS decided in mid-June to sell their products in China, one of the few major markets that still require animal testing by-law in order to be sold to consumers.
Of course, as a business major, I can understand the root of NARS’s decision to sell in this market. China’s economy is growing, and their buying power as a country is outgrowing that of the United States. NARS found its niche in this country, but with so many other brands coming in and taking over, it can only be assumed that their revenue streams were not close to what they were back when NARS was top of the industry. China introduces another market and therefore another stream of revenue helping to boost NARS standing in the market, especially if you take into account the number of brands not selling in this international market because of their desire to uphold their values and beliefs in regards to animal testing.
I get the business aspect, but the moral side of things is where I’m at a true loss. It makes absolutely no sense to me that a company that was taking a stance as a player against animal cruelty has suddenly turned its viewpoint around and began to penetrate the very market it stood against. It comes across as being desperate but also very scumbag-ish. How can a company stand for a cause, and then turn against that same cause without even thinking?
I’ve always been under the impression that consumers have such a large impact on companies. Take for example Urban Decay. At one point they were selling in China until their loyal fans began to boycott and made their opinions heard by denying the company their money and refusing to purchase items. Due to this, Urban Decay pulled out of China in order to become a major player against animal cruelty, because that’s what their consumers supported. It’s important for a company to align themselves with their consumers, and to figure out what their consumers want. Ultimately you can sell in any market you want, but if you’re losing major consumers, especially life-loyal consumers because you put the business ahead of your key stakeholders, then the business is going to amount to nothing.
I’m sure NARS will be riding off the new profits from introducing their products into a large market, but they’re going to continue to face backlash and boycotts here at home and in other large markets because they proved that the values they claimed to hold aren’t true. It feels like a betrayal to the consumers, and I’m going to be interested to see how this issue carries out into the future.