I missed this news before my Friday round up but there’s been such a strong reaction to NARS making the decision to sell in China, that I thought I’d give it post of its own. The furore (see #boycottnars) is because as we know, there is mandatory animal testing in China. Any brand that wants to sell in China knows ahead of time that their products will be tested on animals, which obviously turns the whole ‘cruelty free’ claim that the NARS brand makes on its head.
The Chinese beauty market is hot – scorching in fact and decisions like this do not come about overnight. Referring back to a Shiseido Annual Report (NARS is owned by Shiseido and, along with Bare Escentuals is considered the jewel in the crown) from 2015, I found a quote, “The makeup brand NARS is key to future growth. The make up category has been growing strongly in the Americas lately and robust grown in sales of NARS has exceeded the market growth rate. We will invest aggressively in NARS to build on this grown momentum. We expect sales to increase 50% by 2017 compared with the year ended March 2015.” Basically, going in to China has been on the cards for some time, and I think you’ll find that NARS the brand, did not make that decision. Shiseido did. This should give us something to think about regarding all the independent brands being snapped up by major corporations right now, particularly the erosion of individual brand decision making.
I am absolutely NO fan of NARS – I never feature them now after finding them impossible to deal with. Their quote, “We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region,” is the kind of arrogant nonsense that put me off them in the first place. Come on now, China has managed very well without your visions thank you very much and would continue to do so. It’s a similar answer to one that L’Oreal gave me when I asked about them being sold in China.. kind of like, ‘it’s mean not to share our brilliance’.
PETA, meanwhile, are making tremendous strides in trying to bring animal testing to an end, funding Beijing Technology and Business University to train students on a replacement procedure for the Draize eye irritant test. China Food & Drug Administration announced a change in hoop jumping (in March this year) for brands wishing to enter the area (it’s a filing management change), but as a consequence, importers might be exempt from animal testing if they can show that other tests comply with safety requirements. Put the two together – an administration change and funded non-animal testing and you can see that the future looks better for this particular issue.
How long it will take is another matter. Brands are as desperate to get a slice of the China beauty pie as China is to have them there to keep their economy on the rise, so you would think it has to be sooner rather than later. Global brands DO put pressure on the Chinese administration to eliminate testing. When I visited the L’Oreal Labs (post is HERE) one of the things they were working on was reconstructed skin for cosmetic testing and they had managed to create Chinese skin for exactly that reason. So, it’s a strange decision for NARS in the first place when change is clearly on its way. Why could it not wait? It’s corporation competition basically. All the major beauty corporations are fighting tooth and nail for market share and doing whatever it takes to beat their rivals.
Looking through the most recent Shiseido financials, it seems that that most attention is being paid to Bare Escentuals and Laura Mercier with no mention that I can find that either is to enter the Chinese market alongside NARS. What is interesting though is an overall company strategy to reduce SKUs (products) that don’t pay their way. All brands need to be doing this.
So, there we are – some context around the NARS decision and I’m still hoping that there is enough of a backlash that they change their minds. It took Urban Decay less than a month to realise that it was so unacceptable to its current consumers that they retracted their decision to move into China.
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.
Oh crikey! I love, love, love Nars…..not so in love with them now…..looks like it’s going to be so long, farewell to my fave bronzer Laguna. I’m really disappointed. Thanks for the heads up Jane.
Emmm, people living in China want to use Nars products too and they don’t care about no-animal-testing screaming around it. Shiseido is an Asian company, it’s okay to want to sell it in this region more. Also, they know China market very well and they know how much money it’ll bring them. More than in Europe for sure.
No more Nars for me….
I am not surprised by this. If I were a makeup loving person living in China and I couldn’t get my hands on NARS knowing Shiseido is as popular as it is there and with a factory there, I would be mad! Shiseido will probably profit big more than the US. China has that love for brand names as much as the Japanese did in the 80’s & 90’s. With the growing economy of China and the wealth of the millenials there, brands who deny themselves the chance to sell there are denying themselves of a chance for bigger profit. And, isn’t that what business is all about? PROFIT?
Sadly yes, it is all about profit. However, that does not in any way make it right to behave how NARS have, basically betraying their own ethics and their existing customers by knowingly entering a market where they know their products will be animal tested. To rub salt into the wound their statement issued on Instagram was downright insulting to the intelligence of their customers.
♪ ♫ Money, makes the world go ’round ♪ ♫ Please, get a new excuse.Knowing that every inch on the shelves in the stores, must produce a certain amount of money, I do not see the same sensitivity to its absence from the small Greek market!
The key question isn’t whether entering China will bring them more money, just whether that new revenue compensates for what they lose from existing customers who stop buying Nars now it’s not cruelty free. As I’m not sure how big a thing Nars made of being cruelty-free, they may get away with it. Plenty of other previously cruelty-free companies have.
They get kudos for actually admitting they’re going into China. Some other companies have been really shady about it and the first inking is when the animal testing statement suddenly includes something about “complying with local law”. The announcement is pure marketing wank though. It would be more honest to say, “We’re in this business to make lots of money. We can make lots more money by selling our products in China. We like animals. But we like money more. Sorry”.
Urban Decay was always going to have problems. They’d made such a big thing of their cruelty-free stance over the years that for many of their customers, it was “a key purchase driver”. I imagine the sales figures in the month following the announcement, and the projections, showed whatever they made in China wasn’t going to cover the loss of business elsewhere. If it hadn’t, I doubt they’d have changed their minds.
I shall be hitting Nars where it hurts. In the wallet. No more Nars for me 🙂
Personally I never really liked Nars either – mainly because the names of their products are so offensive and sexually oriented (which is unnecessary in my opinion). Some of their products have been stellar and others quite ordinary for the price.
The current decision is based on greed. I can appreciate that Nars management may not have had much say in the matter, but hopefully their products will work in China without the necessity for animal testing – which I am completely opposed to.