Consumers turn their backs on 'woke' beauty

New research has found that two-thirds (68%) of consumers are uneasy about health and beauty brands promoting ‘woke’ causes.  

One in four customers thinks ‘green-washing’ and ‘woke-washing’ brands (faking their sustainability credentials or their interest in social issues like Black Lives Matter) are inauthentic, while one in seven (14%) deliberately avoid the brands they perceive as  behaving this way.

The survey also found that when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), what most people (58%) want is for health and beauty brands to ‘pay their taxes, treat people fairly, respect the environment and not use it as a PR opportunity’. 

That said, more than half of all consumers (58%) want to see support for climate change, 56% are eager to see support for female body positivity and 52% want brands to back diversity and inclusion.

When it comes to representation, 43% ranked ‘advertising that shows a realistic set of models or actors to reflect real users of the brand’ as the number one thing they want to see, followed by ‘advertising that uses a range of models/actors such as different ages, sizes, gender, ethnicities or disabilities to be inclusive’ in second place with 35% (rising to 40% of women).

Overall, the survey found only a quarter of the UK population (27%) believe they are currently well-represented in industry ads. 

The nationally representative survey of 2,000 UK consumers was commissioned by The Pull Agency, a creative agency specialising in healthcare and beauty brands. 

Kathrin Rodriguez-Bruessau, head of brand strategy at The Pull Agency, comments: “While the marketing world would have us believe that a grandiose brand social purpose is paramount, consumers don’t seem to care as much or really understand the concept. According to most people, the first step is to just get the basics right and be a decent corporate citizen. We’re certainly not suggesting that brands shouldn’t promote social purpose, but if they decide it’s the right path to take, they must consider how it’s reflected in their ads, taking into account the consumer viewpoint. It is also important to take the time to check their company’s past and current code of conduct across all their procedures – including a quick check on any brand ambassadors.” 

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