Extensive investigation and detailed concepts have been established by Business researchers to identify the relationship between brand personality and the consumer. In spite of such vast research consumers association with a brand it remains a question. This piece of work will appraise in the area of consumer buying behaviour and its perception of a brand, to contribute valuable information for marketers.
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This research’s point of attraction is the innovative ethical marketing strategies that revolve around the ethical beauty products made by Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics. Charles Knell (2009) emphasised that Marketing is a significant part of any business and by applying ethics it generates customer’s interests and builds an affiliation between the product and consumer. This leads to a socially responsible and culturally sensitive business community, embracing these concepts as a member of the community directly effects on the survival of the human society in long run.
Although Lush has a strong base of loyal customers but it is still limited to a certain age group majority of its customers are youngsters. There is a group that believes they are wasting food.
Lush is experimenting with different dimensions of cosmetics but in order to do so would they remain committed to their core principles, or multiple variables will eventually moderate the decisions of Lush, is this gimmick aimed for sales and targeting environmentally conscious customers globally.
This piece of work will argue the controversial marketing approach adopted by Lush Cosmetics and critique the efficiency of their strategy as well as understand if the ethical promise the main reason for a consumer to buy this product. Individuals are unique; we all have personal moral codes. The ethical behaviour boundaries are determined by an individual so they vary from person to person, cultures and religions.
With regards to business ethics remaining true to fundamental beliefs and ethics is a challenge. Almost all business starts with ethos but usually somewhere along the road they get lost and the reason fades away.
Rationale for the Chosen Topic:
Selected topic is of a personal interest as a strong believer of ethical marketing, initiatives taken by personal favourite brands have further inspired to research on this particular area. Moreover skincare is the only area that showed growth even during recession as reflected by the annual statistics.
The researcher has a small scale family business that makes handmade cosmetics using cultivated roses and has worked in similar industries in past. Had an opportunity to work for cosmetic industry and experienced the change process of cosmetic business adopting ethical practices. Personal curiosities to comprehend the motives of cosmetic industry behind ethical marketing are genuinely social or environmental responsibility has persuaded to choose this topic. Moreover as an educated and responsible individual I find myself obligated to contribute to the betterment of our environment by all means possible.
Lush has an overwhelming response and a strong customer loyalty
Here the aim is to
Critically evaluate the marketing practises of Lush Cosmetics and the reason behind their marketing strategies.
Understand the significance of ethical marketing in cosmetic industry.
Comprehend the global meaning of ethics.
Understand is it the ethical promise reason for a customer to buy Lush cosmetics or the quality of the product.
Do ethics really matter in customer buying behaviour?
Is Lush wasting food?
To make recommendations to Lush based on the research to broaden customers with respect to age, gender social and economical groups.
This research seeks to develop an improved understanding; the paper will also scrutinize the following areas .To reveal evident and rational answers for the questions below which are the aim of this study.
Challenges and advantages of Lush Cosmetics as a private company with regard to managing its business growth and sustaining its values in long term.
Innovative styles of marketing adopted by Lush, which group of consumers respond to it.
Can a brand attain a unique meaning globally?
What holds ethical consumers to a cosmetic brand?
Understand the consumer identification with a brand. Why they purchase this brand.
Effects of facial image and cosmetic usage on perception of brand personality.
What obstacles Lush faces, due to their unique marketing strategies.
My research is based on popular, creative and natural Lush Fresh Handmade cosmetics. It has been in the list of top 100 companies to work for, established in 1994; by Mark and Mo Constantine Lush Cosmetics brand which offers all natural, organic skin care and make-up products. Reduced packaging, minimal use of preservatives, its stand against animal testing and does not use palm oil and have launched two-pronged campaigns to spread awareness among consumers the impacts of palm cultivation on tropical forests. They also organise parties on main encouraging people to travel by train to minimise air travelling. All these activities make Lush more than just a cosmetics brand. There exceptional products have managed to build a growing business with more than 678 stores in 44 countries. Their core principles are:
100% not tested on animals.
100% suitable for vegetarians and approved by the Vegetarian Society.
67% of Lush products are suitable for vegans and approved by the Vegan Society.
100% fresh, handmade products. Made with organic produce where possible.
67% of products are preservative free.
46% of products are unpackaged.
A great deal has been documented on this research area. Marketing ethics and social responsibility are intrinsically contentious even after extensive researches they are conflicts, various points of view have been augmented further in this study. Related literature will built a foundation for further research in terms of ethical marketing, reasons why companies choose to do ethical marketing, due to globalization the ethical conflicts can a company stand for a unique meaning worldwide, consumer identification with a brand, the and off course the innovative marketing strategies of the chosen cosmetic brand Lush.
2.1- Business Ethics:
Ethics derived from a Greek word “Ethikos”. (Tsalikis/ Fritzsche, 1989, Pg 696) defined ethics as an ”inquiry into the nature and grounds of morality where morality means moral judgments, standards, and rules of conduct.”
Wiley (1995) states that business ethics are a code of conduct that is directly related to morality, obligations fair dealing with humanity, ethics demonstrate the personality and in contemporary time’s business trade. Lush has established itself as an ethical cosmetic brand but do customers buy this brand for similar reasons, moreover globalization of business has made it crucial to understand ethical conflicts across cultural boundaries.
“Different cultural backgrounds lead to different ways of perceiving the world, and cultural differences affect individuals’ ethical reasoning” (Thorne & Sanders, 2002 cited in MacDonald, 2000).
Strong impact of cultural background is undeniable and it does affect the customer buying behaviour if Lush is perceived similarly across globe. Is consumer buying Lush for its ethical values worldwide?
Gaski (1999) is critical of ethical marketing he implies that the ethical guidelines are nothing more than to “obey law” and “act in your self interest.” Here it would be interesting to quote one of the Lush’s core beliefs in black and white on their website
“We believe that our products are good value, that we should make a profit.” Does this statement support Gaski understands of ethical marketing, if yes wouldn’t it be unethical and dishonest to use ethics as a marketing tool.
Naomi (1991) believes that may seem undisruptive to wash with a fruity soap women are unaware that these scented soaps underline and intensify our anxieties for food and ultimately organisations make profit from our insecurities. Naomi’s perspective of fruity cosmetics makes Lush’s ethical marketing cynical.
2.2 – Ethical Marketing:
Why ethical marketing has been of such an interest for businesses. Change is a factor that insists on adopting more eco- friendly and green practices worldwide. Governance and media educates people and is spreading awareness to adopt healthy life styles and use environmental friendly safe products to ensure a green future for coming generations.
The pioneers of ethical marketing are the Giant Food Inc. First chain business to write down the ingredients and its nutritional value etc the company succeeded in gaining competitive edge over its competitors and established a reputation for a responsible organisation. Sceptics argue that this cannot be considered ethical as companies only demonstrate the positive image of their merchandise a classic example is of tobacco industries where being heavily pressurised by government authorities they have to print a caution note but it is a billion dollar industry that gives huge revenue sales. Lush states they are 100% against animal testing and do not test on animals, but at the same time they do use ingredients that have been tested on animals.
2.3- Ethical Cosmetics:
In quest of finding the relationship consumer identification with Lush an interesting Model is Kapferer Brand identity prism to refer to, in order to examine the relationship between lush products and its consumers.
The number of consumers for ethical cosmetics is escalating one definite reason is due to wide spread awareness of manufacturers adding a high number of hazardous chemicals in cosmetics every day. Moffat (1997) so what are ethical cosmetics? Cosmetics that leave minimal carbon foot print. Lush claims fair trade, minimal carbon foot print and reduced packaging do these points justify lush as an ethical cosmetic brand.
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2.4- Innovative Marketing Strategies:
Lush personifies the sensory stimulation; it is the scent that allures you right to the shop. The atmosphere of the shop itself is like entering in candy land. Best part is you get to see all in open soaps are stacked one on top of each other like rainbow and you may touch and smell all you want. In shop experience is made as delightful for every customer. In words of Mark Constantine Co- founder of Lush ……”Packaging is so boring. Smelling and touching is just more fun for the senses.”
Marketers have been using scent as a marketing tool but only relatively little research has been done on this, Baron (1983) investigated the power of scent by conducting mock job interviews and found that regardless of abilities candidates wearing scents were given higher ratings as compared to ones not wearing perfume. Lipman (1990) presented the fact that pleasant ambient fragrance increased customer persistent in store.
Philip Kotler defines marketing as ‘satisfying needs and wants through an exchange process Lush does not have a marketing department which is unusual even the names of the products are bizarre “Buffy the backside slayer” shower jellies named “Frankincense and Beer”, this study will analyse with this non traditional approach will lush be able to compete in long run with the advanced marketing strategies of it competitors.
Above mentioned literature and similar studies and researches provide considerable areas for thought to aid the design and conducting research based on Lush ethical and innovative marketing strategies. Optimistically this study will provide more food for thought and support other relevant researches with paying particular attention to ethical marketing.
3.0 – RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1- Research Philosophy:
Three fundamental approaches are defined by Saunders et al (2003) with regards to research philosophy
Positivism: Positivism is the philosophical attitude that stands on authenticity of observation made by the researcher like scientists; the researcher assumes and makes interpretations as an analyst.
Interpretive: All efforts in this philosophy are aimed to comprehend the reality behind the visible. This is a subjective mode as researcher perception is beyond the apparent.
Realism: This would be most practical point of view as it acknowledges the fact that any behaviour has a strong influence of internal and external forces that may be recognized or not by an individual.
A combination of Realism and Interpretive approach shall be adopted to conduct this study. Researchers goal is to recognize the intention of Lush Cosmetics to adopt ethical marketing and the effect of its innovative practices and there relation to consumer buying behaviour of lush products.
3.2 – Research Approach:
Due to the nature of the selected topic Ethical Marketing and Innovative practices adopted by Lush, deductive research approach would be the best option.
This reasoning method will flow from observing practices adopted by Lush, following the rules of ethical marketing and make a conclusion whether it is valid concept.
3.3- Research Strategy:
Quantitative is more accurate and scientific
Qualitative research is ……….would suit this research data will be collected through interviews and case studies to build support for the argument and consumer’s feedback will be taken under special consideration to make conclusion
3.4- Data Collection Method:
Substantial evidence is required to support the hypothesis and verify research. Research information is collected from this stage to reach a logical conclusion. Two sources of information are used primary and secondary data.
Primary Research Data: Interviews with open questions and direct surveys and will provide first hand credible information.
Lush Handmade Fresh Cosmetics: Lush is a private business which claims not to have a Marketing Department, Managers of an individual branch taking the responsibility to display and market their new arrivals. A questionnaire based interview with the Lush Wimbledon Manager will be conducted. The questions asked would be descriptive and open ended.
Toyota Motors: A descriptive and detailed discussion will be conducted with the marketing analysts at Toyota Motors based on a ready prepared questionnaire that will be drafted prior to the interview, comprising of questions that a are semi structured, descriptive and open ended, in order to attain valuable information for the research study. The researcher also intends to cover the consumer base for hybrid cars and also leading industry experts associated with ethical marketing concepts and practices. The research will also obtain appropriate information on the consumer attitudes towards ethical products and associated marketing strategies.
Individual Customers of Hybrid cars: Well formulated structured and semi structured questionnaire will be presented in detail to consumers of hybrid cars and we aim to cover a sample population of 15-18 individuals. The sample intends to accommodate existing hybrid car users, potential customers in this category, and industry experts in order to obtain factual data from the consumer viewpoint and corroborate them with the company’s claims. Every effort will be directed towards understanding the actual motives of consumers and the manufacturers in producing and buying such products. The validity of concept and the actual profitability in terms of economic factors and cost effectiveness will be ascertained by rigorous study and analysis. Open ended queries will also be used to obtain detailed descriptive answers to the questions presented.
Secondary information will obtained by accessing historical literature pertaining to the subject matter and reanalysing their conclusions, outcomes, statements and expressions regarding the topic of study. This can include data from published sources, organisational literature, governmental surveys, raw data, and data available from electronic multimedia sources at large. We intend to collect secondary from corporate journals, business magazines, research database, online sources etc.
The researcher intends to closely monitor and study literature from varied credible and authoritative sources and corroborate the findings from the primary data to understand the energy consumption aspects of hybrid cars, the recycling process of various components, maintenance cost related factors, efficiency in fuel etc to reach a conclusion on whether hybrid cars are actually eco friendly and hence really ethical and green.
On the basis of the obtained factual information, a conclusive result will be formed based on the information in the primary data and analysing it as well as relating it to the secondary data collected. Various sources will be tapped into to gain authoritative data and credible information on the subject matter under scrutiny.
3.5 Data analysis
This step involves analysing the data that has been collected through primary and secondary sources. Analysing the data involves relating the factual information with the established models and theories in the subject. The researcher will conduct a qualitative analysis that will be exploratory and descriptive in nature in order to conclude upon a valid outcome.
‘Qualitative data analysis is the range of processes and procedure whereby we move from the qualitative data that have been collected into some form of explanation, understanding or interpretation of the people and situation we are investigating.’ [Ann Lewins, 2005]
The primary information gathered through interviews, focus groups, consumer research etc will be utilised to support our analysis. Statements, comments and opinions of the marketing analysts at Toyota will be used to substantiate our argument and support our claims and resulting outcomes. This also assists the researcher in forming a solid backup based on consumer research outcomes, and their perceived concept about ethical marketing and its allied products. Recordings from the focus team surveys will also be used to critically analyse the whole subject and arrive at a definite conclusion.
Secondary information will be analysed in detail to comprehend the actual worth of hybrid products. The merits and the limitations of the concept on the whole and as adopted by the business houses will be analysed to decide if this is a genuine attempt and concern towards the earth or is it another marketing gimmick to sway the consumer market.
Analysis of the data will be ensured by making use of qualitative techniques and a blend of quantitative methods like percentage bar graphs, pie charts etc.
3.6 Research Reliability:
‘Reliability refers to the extent to which your data collection techniques or analysis procedures will yield consistent findings’. (Saunders et al, 2007)
Reliable data will be ensured by ensuring procedures and techniques are in sync with consistency in the findings. This will be ensured by checking the sources and its authoritativeness. Analysis of the data will be ensured by making use of qualitative techniques and a blend of quantitative methods like percentage bar graphs, pie charts etc.
3.7 Research Ethics:
Ethical issues pertaining to the research will be kept under consideration and due responsibility of all procedures will be taken keeping in view ethical considerations of privacy and confidentiality of data. Integrity of the respondent firms will be maintained and every effort will be made towards ensuring avoidance of any after effects that can potentially become a barrier for further research opportunities. Due consultation with supervisors and respondents will be made to ensure qualitative analysis is done within the frameworks of research topic and no unjust opinion or effort will be made towards forcefully establishing any controversial viewpoint.
Due consideration and awareness of local rules, standards and regulation will be ensured and compliance to the same is accepted as a responsibility of the researcher. Undue intrusion into personal matters, individual issues and communal matters will be thoroughly and strictly avoided and at the same time dignity of the respondent and their privacy and interests will never be compromised in the course of the research or thereafter. Consent will be obtained prior to accessing any information whether print or online library sources.
This researcher reflects on the contemporary surge in the use of hybrid vehicles and corporate consideration towards ethical issues fuelled by effective marketing plans to spread the message of ethics which were ignored earlier either due to indifference or ignorance. This study is expected to obtain a clear picture about the effectiveness of this approach and consumer perception towards such efforts and the genuineness behind the whole aspect. The research is expected to provide a clear and informative outcome and enhance our understanding on the various strategic marketing tactics adopted by corporate organisations and also help us decide further on how to respond to the changes as consumers on the whole. This helps build and generate support for honest issues based on ethics and welfare of the society on the whole and reject half hearted approaches which lacks genuine aims and initiatives.
Choosing a good topic is not easy but researcher choose this topic because of his personal interest in automobile industry and have a two years experience while working in automobile industry in back home country. When researcher started this course he was bit scared and haven’t got any exact idea what to do, but his instructor Mo Willian always helped him whenever researcher needed and always boost researcher’s confidence and appreciated him whenever he did some thing well. Mo Willian successful teaching must be one which can understand the complexities of the learning process and can represent upon this knowledge to act in ways which empower learners both within and beyond the classroom situation.
By the end of this semester researcher now realised that he is a good writer, because the previous assignments and this research proposal increased researchers writing skills as well as speaking by group discussion and presentations in class, and that will definitely going to help the researcher in his dissertation and afterwards in his career.
The Researcher got some problems as well while writing this research proposal, because the researcher has chosen the critical evaluation of ethical marketing and case study on hybrid cars. Data collection and taking interviewing the different people related to that particular field is not easy but researcher has done some work on that and now researcher is satisfied about that and that work will help the researcher in his dissertation. Perhaps to get a clear understanding of the whole concept of defining the project we thought its worth keeping a brief note in your diary of the amount of time and finances spent on different activities. The most important factor for researcher is to take complete ownership of this project and do all the acts willingly as it’s another great milestone in our learning process. Although researcher has enjoyed while writing this proposal, researcher got bit difficulty to get the relative literature to the topic, but it will be beneficial for the researcher in his future work.
Research Gantt chart (Week commencing 10th May 2010)
Ethical Marketing and the New Consumer by Chris Arnold Published 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Handbook of quality- of- life research: an ethical marketing perspective by M. Joseph Sirgy Volume 8 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers
Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are used Against Women. New York: Anchor Books, 1991. 179 – 217
John A. Quelch (1993), Ethics in Marketing (Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin).
Sparks, John R. and Shelby D. Hunt (1998), “Marketing Researcher Ethical Sensitivity:
Conceptualization, Measurement, and Exploratory Investigation,” Journal of Marketing 62 (April), 92-109.
Stone, Christopher D. (1975), Where the Law Ends (New York: Harper and Row) Brenkert, George G. (1998), “Marketing and the Vulnerable,” Business Ethics Quarterly Ruffin Series, Special Issue 1, 7-20.
Smith, N. Craig (1990), Morality and the Market: Consumer Pressure for Corporate Accountability,
London: Routledge (1995), “Marketing Strategies for the Ethics Era,” Sloan Management Review 36 (summer), 85-97.
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