From social media makeup artists to popular disruptor brands, beauty is inherently more democratic, lending itself to activism, says Sharon Chuter, founder of Uoma Beauty, who launched Pull Up For Change in the summer of 2020 as a call to action. Top-down fashion exclusivity makes the industry more resilient, she says.
Fall should know. In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and other parts of the world, Pull Up For Change has asked companies to share the number of black employees on their payrolls in an act of transparency and d ‘unit. While many of the biggest beauty players participated, including Sephora, Ulta Beauty, and Kylie Cosmetics, very few fashion brands responded, Chuter says.
More recently, beauty companies such as U Beauty and Beautystack have pledged profits or shared resources to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in response to an escalation in hate crimes. Some fashion brands have shown their support: Gucci, for example, advocates for causes like Stop AAPI Hate through its Gucci Equilibrium platform, which also has a dedicated Instagram account to keep followers up to date on its progress. This week he also released his third Make noise for change zine, which seeks to support gender equality. But analysts say, overall, fashion still falls short of beauty.
One hypothesis is that beauty brands have a deeper relationship with their consumers than fashion brands, says Robert Jan dHond, managing partner of market research firm Kantar and author of his 2020 target report on the importance of value-driven activities. They are closer to consumers and closer to diversity and inclusion.
For years, marketers have viewed racial or political messages as a divisive factor, explains Michel Brousset, CEO of Waldencast and former chairman of the LOral group. Now, brand activism is a growing priority for consumers making purchasing decisions. Eighty-four percent of global consumers strive to buy products from companies that support causes close to their hearts, according to the Kantars Global Monitor 2020 survey. In the United States, 65% of consumers recognize that it is important that the companies they buy from actively promote diversity and inclusion in their own business or in society as a whole. Fashion can learn from the lead of beauties, but it must be engaged in the cause.
What we were seeing was the rise of buyers motivated by their convictions, explains Smita Reddy, head of global customer relations and general manager of brand and integrated solutions at Edelman. These are people who vote with their wallets and who will buy or boycott a brand depending on their position. Some people might say it’s a very Gen Z thing, but saw it across age ranges and income levels.
Responsibility among online communities
Disruptor beauty brands were born on social media, built with purpose and strong founding voices. This has prompted industry players to be more vocal on social issues than big brands in other industries, dHond says.