NARS is receiving unprecedented backlash after a beauty blogger exposed their cruelty-free facade. Tashina Combs of popular cruelty-free beauty blog Logical Harmony (26.1K Instagram followers, 18K YouTube subscribers) initially reached out to the brand inquiring about their cruelty-free status, and was disconcerted with their reply.
NARS responded saying, “We are launching in China later this year and local regulations mandate animal testing on imported cosmetics. We are subject to the local laws of the markets in which we operate, including in China where products are subject to animal testing.”
Combs posted their reply for all to see on Sunday, June 25th, and so the chaos began …
Influencers wield extreme power over their devoted followers. After reading the Logical Harmony blog post, popular cruelty-free YouTuber JKissa (293K Instagram followers, 293K YouTube subscribers) created a dupe video, detailing cruelty-free alternatives to replace NARS products, and encouraging her followers to never buy from he company again. Fellow cruelty-free beauty blogger Phyrra (25K Instagram followers) also created a blog post dedicated to cruelty-free dupes. Vegan beauty blogger @veganmakeupshare (35.9K Instagram followers) expressed her disgust at the brand’s decision, and debuted a live chat with a NARS representative on her Instagram to display their dismissive answers.
Social media allows direct contact instantly, and once word gets out it spreads like wildfire. From the initial Logical Harmony post until present time, NARS has posted a few Instagram photos. The first photo received over 2,500 comments of disapproval from former NARS lovers, flinging hateful hashtags like #boycottnars #crueltyfree #stopanimaltesting and #savetheanimals. The second photo, a mere NARS blush product shot, received over 1,000 similar comments. In the Instagram post from Tuesday, June 27, NARS broke their silence to respond to the Instagram hate. This post has received over 9,000 comments (and counting), spanning as innocuous as a thumbs-down emoji, as aggressive as a middle-finger emoji, and everything in between.
Before this news dropped, the average NARS Instagram post received a maximum of about 200 comments. Judging by the expansive Reddit threads and the multitude of tweets and Facebook posts, the backlash has hit every platform consumers are active on.
The consumers speaking out have created a petition encouraging the company to not sell in China. They’re rallying each other to send letters to NARS expressing their outrage over the brand’s decision. Recently, Stila, Marc Jacobs Beauty, and Smashbox have pulled out of China to maintain cruelty-free status. Consumers feel that NARS decided to swoop in and bank on the open market that more progressive and conscientious brands purposefully left. The overall presumption is that NARS thinks they’ll make more money from the Chinese market than they’ll lose from the cruelty-free American market. Loyal brand users now view the company as hypocritical, knowing that François NARS himself has been committed to veganism and dedicated to the cruelty-free cause. The brand is selling out from its original principles and many feel NARS is attempting to pull one over on them in the greedy name of making money.
Considering this all stemmed from a blogger post that happened only 5 days ago, there’s no doubt that this PR nightmare is far from over. It seems NARS had no plan to announce this change, and had no crisis management in place beforehand. As of now, they’re sticking behind the decision to expand into China. They have updated the FAQ on their website to include this shady and misleading statement: “NARS does not test on animals nor do we ask others to test on our behalf, except where required by law.” If Logical Harmony hadn’t released this info, there is nothing showing the brand had any intentions of formally revealing it to their customers.
Will the profits gained from China supersede the damaging crush to their brand image in the US? Is this a gang mentality or do consumers really care? Only time will tell how (and if) NARS will recover from this crisis.
Learn from their mistakes and let this be a lesson in the importance of transparency. Had NARS been proactive in announcing this news, they could have controlled the conversation instead of playing catch up, and ultimately losing customers money and trust.
Read a real time update on the NARS situation: Update: NARS Cruelty Free Nightmare Continues and find out how you can avoid a crisis like this for your own brand: You Say “Crisis,” I Say “Situation”: No Matter What You Call It, Plan To Have A Plan
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