From social media makeup artists to grassroots bullying brands, beauty is inherently more democratic, perfect for activism, says Uoma Beauty founder Sharon Chuter, who launched Pull Up For Change in the summer of 2020 as a call to action. The exclusivity of top-down fashion makes the industry more resilient, he said.
Scooters must know. After the Black Lives Matter protests that took place in the US and other parts of the world, Pull Up For Change asked companies to share the number of Black employees on their payroll as an act of transparency and unity. While many of the biggest beauty performers participated, including Sephora, Ulta Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, very few fashion brands responded, Chuter said.
Recently, beauty companies including U Beauty and Beautystack have pledged profits or shared resources to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in response to a rise in hate crime. Several fashion brands have shown support: Gucci, for example, endorses things like Stop AAPI Hate through its platform Gucci Equilibrium, which also has a dedicated Instagram account to update followers on its progress. This week also published the third Chime in for change zines, which seek to promote gender equality. But analysts say that, on the whole, fashion is still inferior to beauty.
“One hypothesis is that beauty brands have a deeper relationship with their consumers than fashion brands,” said Robert Jan d’Hond, managing partner at market research firm Kantar and author of 2020 goals reports on the importance of value-driven business. “They are closer to consumers and closer to diversity and inclusion.”
For years, marketers have viewed racial or political messages as divisive, said Michel Brousset, Waldencast’s chief executive and former president of the L’Oréal group. Today, brand activism is a growing priority for consumers making purchasing decisions. Eighty-four percent of global consumers seek to buy products from companies that support activities they care about, according to Kantar’s Global Monitor 2020 survey. In the US, 65 percent of consumers agree that it is important that the companies they buy from actively promote diversity and inclusion in their business or society itself as a whole. Fashion can learn from the excellence of beauty, but must be committed to its goals.
“What we’re seeing is a growing number of buyers driven by confidence,” said Smita Reddy, global client relations leader and managing director of integrated branding and solutions at Edelman. “These are people who vote with their wallets and they will buy or boycott brands based on their stance. Some might say ‘that’s a very Gen Z thing’ but we see it across all age ranges as well as income levels. “
Accountability among online communities
The bully beauty brand was born on social media, built with a strong founding voice and purpose. This encourages industry heritage players to also be more vocal on social issues than the leading brands in other sectors, said d’Hond.
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