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The rise and rise of brand transparency – How ethical consumerism is forcing beauty brands to go ‘makeup free.’

Vegan beauty, LMVH, and Kat Von D – Millennials expect beauty brands to be much more than just skin deep.

In case you missed it, ‘makeup-free selfies’ are all the rage these days. A collective tactic by millennial women to protest at – as they see it – their manipulation by the beauty industry.

But – somewhat ironically – by revealing their unadorned faces to the world, I believe, they are, in fact, clearly signalling the way forward for beauty brands.

In a nutshell, major FMCG brands need to do exactly the same thing. Embrace – as the jargon has it – ‘brand transparency;’ make the ethical sourcing and production of their products clearly visible for all the world to see – make their brands, to put it another way, go ‘makeup free.’

Writing about ‘brand transparency’ in Medium.com, Steve Harvey, co-owner of creative agency Fabrik Brand, says “Today, more than half of all consumers seek out additional information when choosing a brand, and 73% will happily spend more on a product that shows complete transparency. What’s more, 70% of your customers will actively look for insights into your company before they choose to buy from you.”

And a Brandwatch article looking at online conversations around cosmetics noted: “The cruelty-free discussion made up well over half of all conversation of natural ingredients/eco-friendly makeup ingredients. It is by far the most discussed topic on social.”

Vegan beauty brands like INIKA understood this dynamic early. And, as a result, have profited from it.

Founded in 2006, Sydney-based INIKA, are PETA certified and cruelty-free. They don't test any of their products on animals and all cosmetic products are vegan. Their website describes their philosophy as being driven by “…a need to detox. Conscious consumers were already removing harmful chemicals from their homes and diet, replacing them with wholesome, pure and natural alternatives. When it came to makeup, there wasn’t a healthy option.” So, INIKA, they clearly imply, provided one.

Now mainstream holding companies like LMVH, the giant French luxury goods conglomerate, and L’Oréal are catching up.

Last year, responding to demand from ethical consumers, the tattooist and makeup artist Kat Von D announced plans to reformulate her entire cosmetics line to ensure every product was vegan. Von D’s brand is owned by LMVH.

Von D, made famous by the reality TV show LA Ink, has over seven million followers on Instagram. So, few are better placed to know which way the social media runes are currently being cast.

It’s worth noting, that a successful strategy for beauty products based around brand transparency will always have two key components: 1. Putting in place an ethical sourcing and manufacturing process. 2. Making sure all your customers know about it. Von D, a savvy user of social media, does this last bit brilliantly.

After all, makeup-free or otherwise, posting selfies is all about getting yourself noticed.

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