Tarte Cosmetics has traditionally marketed itself as an environmentally conscious cosmetics company that does not test on animals, a reputation that has come under scrutiny following its recent acquisition.
After Japan-based Kosé announced the acquisition last week, it said that the 93.5% stake in the business would represent an all-important footprint into the North American market, where the New York based company has carved a niche share in the colour cosmetics and skin care categories.
Tarte has grown its business by targeting women in their 20s and 30s, and to court this area of the market it has emphasised its products as being formulated based on naturally-derived ingredients that are not tested on animals.
Kosé big in China and advocates animal testing
Kosé, which markets a wide range of personal care and cosmetic products throughout Asia, has been fast expanding beyond the domestic market, into China, where certain cosmetic products are required by law to be tested on animals.
In Asia it is also present in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korean and Malaysia.
Upon hearing about the acquisition, a significant number of Tarte customers took to the company’s Facebook page to express their unhappiness with the new business arrangement, with many stating they would no longer buy the products.
Tarte reaches out to reassure its customers
The criticism came despite the fact that the company had tried to reassure its customers following the announcement, with a post on its Facebook page dated March 18 that stated:
“By joining the Kosé family and adding to that rich portfolio, we can build on what we’ve already accomplished with powerful products that explore expanding the Tarte brand in new and exciting countries. And rest assured, we are committed to remaining a cruelty-free brand and will not test on animals,” the Facebook entry said.
One Facebook user responded to the post, stating: “Kosé are not cruelty-free though so money spent on Tarte products will now contribute to Kosé’s profits and help fund their animal testing.”
Customers express ‘disappointment’
Amongst a number of industry observers to comment on the acquisition was lifestyle writer and blogger Cadry Nelson, who said she was ‘disappointed’ to hear of the acquisition of Tarte by Kosé.
“Like me, many people had turned to Tarte as a way of avoiding big cosmetics brands that include animal testing. These customers made it clear that they didn’t want to give money to a company, knowing that it would end up funding a parent company that does support that cruel endeavor,” Nelson stated.
The sale of Tarte to Kosé bears a resemblance to the sale of The Body Shop to the L’Oréal group in 2006.
The Body Shop had also built a reputation as an environmentally sound cosmetics player that did not test its products on animals, which was contrary to claims that L’Oréal continued to test ingredients on animals at that time.