Lush to prioritise subscription services and fan clubs as part of loyalty drive

The beauty and wellbeing retailer’s chief digital officer says he wants to give its most loyal customers “more instant benefits”.

With a much-lauded ecommerce platform and consistently rising sales, Lush is a brand very much on the up. In fact, for its most recently published annual figures (for the year ending 30 June 2016), Lush recorded a 75% jump in pre-tax profit to £43.2m 2016 as sales rose 26% to £723.2m. Its online sales also rose – up 26% to £32.6m – while like-for-like sales increased by 19% during the period.

In particular, its North American subsidiary is growing fast, with the business approaching 1,000 stores globally and also overtaking The Body Shop in the UK market.

Lush’s success has been largely driven by strong customer service scores and the way it differentiates through ethical branding. For example, 100% of its products are recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable, with its face masks and bath bombs made from natural ingredients. This has created loyalty from consumers looking for a brand with purpose, with the Lush Instagram account, which plays up its ethical values, now standing at almost four million followers.

Speaking to Marketing Week at Lush’s annual ‘Creative Showcase’, the brand’s chief digital officer Jack Constantine talks amid an endless horde of tattooed millennials walking past wearing t-shirts that make political statements about protecting the environment. Meanwhile, on a stage slightly behind where we’re standing, Queen guitarist Brian May is making a passionate speech about saving Britain’s badger population. Constantine insists this kind of political environment must be adopted by more brands if they wish to continue to appeal to millennials and gen Z consumers.

He explains: “If you want to create trust and brand loyalty with young people in 2017 then it’s all about promoting honesty and transparency. I think a lot more brands should be thinking like we think and what we do should become the norm.

“Brands can’t just sell products to consumers anymore – to stay relevant they have to look out for the world too. If your mentality is still ‘screw the rest of them, I just want to make money’ then you are eventually going to fail.”

Fan clubs and subscription services

One way Lush is hoping to ensure its future success is through the launch of subscription services. In August, it launched a new subscription service for bath bombs. The service, which was rolled out first in America, is fully customisable and allows customers to choose which products they would like and how frequently they would like to receive them – the idea being Lush consumers will never run out of bath bombs.

Over the coming years, Constantine says Lush will continue to build subscription services and also look to introduce more fan club programmes as it aims to solidify its growing community.  “We don’t necessarily believe generating loyalty is purely about offering discounts so we want to build more subscription services and fan clubs,” he says.

“There needs to be a set-up where people can come into a shop and we know exactly who they are and can give them instant benefits. We also need to make sure our staff have more time to talk to customers on the shop floor – therefore, making the digital and physical experience seamlessly overlap will be a big focus.”

Not being able to blag it

Constantine says Lush is a brand that always tries to follow through on its promises – whether that’s around launching fan clubs or helping the environment. In the current era of brand transparency, he believes marketers can’t “blag it” like they could in the past.

He concludes: “The global community has more expectations for sustainability. The reality is I can Google something a marketer has promised and find out very quickly if they were lying to me.

“It was easier for some to blag in the past but they can’t get away with doing that anymore!”