NARS entry into China market leads to backlash

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

NARS entry into China market provokes backlash

Related tags Social media Body shop Retailing

Edgy color cosmetics brand NARS has seen a backlash following the announcement that it will enter the China market, where product safety testing on animal is still mandatory.

A big no-no for many cosmetic and personal care consumers in Europe and the U.S., last week’s decision means that the company can no longer make the claim that its global product sales are cruelty free.

The company is expected to still carry cruelty free labelling on its products sold in the U.S. and other international markets, but because of product safety regulations in China any cruelty free logo will not be carried on products sold there.

Retailers, social media and animal rights groups react

The announcement has seen the brand both shunned and criticized by retailers, animal rights groups and social media users, and is particularly poignant given the company has historically advocated for cruelty free testing methods on cosmetic products.

Sephora US, which is currently the largest specialty cosmetics and personal care retailer in the country, has also scrubbed Nars off its list of cruelty free color cosmetics brands​, citing the fact that the brand will soon enter the China market as the reason.

The Shiseido-owned brand’s decision has led to a social media campaign on Instagram with the hashtag #boycottnars​, which has already gathered over 600 posts and tens of thousands of likes.

Instagram campaign demands boycott

Most of the Instagram posts highlight the fact that the brand will now be required to test its products sold in China on animals because of the country’s existing regulations.

Some posts criticized the company for putting money ahead of principles, while others went further, encouraging consumers to not buy the brand because of the decision.

In response to the social media backlash, NARS did share an Instagram post stating that it was still firmly against animal testing for cosmetic products, while also underlining that the move was necessary for it to enter into the important China market.

NARS says “we hear you”

 “We want you to know that we hear you. The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen,” Nars wrote in a statement,”​ NARS’ official statement on the matter read.

“We firmly believe that product and ingredient safety can be proven by non-animal methods, but we must comply with the local laws of the markets in which we operate, including in China.

“NARS is hopeful that together, we can work toward a cruelty-free world.”

Body Shop suffered a similar dilemma

Back in 2014, a year after compulsory testing on animals was introduced, the Body Shop found itself in a difficult situation when it was revealed that it was selling products in duty free shops across China, raising the question of whether or not the products met with the country's safety regulations.

The Body Shop has always promoted itself as an ethical cosmetics company and has made it a clear company policy to oppose all forms of animal testing, even before it was outlawed by the European Union and other global regulation authorities.

In line with this, the Body Shop stopped selling in mainland China after the regulations requiring animal testing were introduced in 2013 but Australian watchdog Choice brought it to attention that the products were still be sold in duty free outlets.

Ultimately the company decided that to continue to market and sell its products in the country would go against the fact that its portfolio of brands are marketed and sold world-wide as cruelty-free products, taking the decision to pull out of all retail channels.

After the revelation that its products were for in duty-free stores all products were permanently removed in associated retail outlets across the country, a month later.

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