Well, not much would surprise us with Lush; after all, they’re not afraid of a bit of controversy (remember their Spy Cops campaign last year?).
Although there’s no actual nudity here (sorry clickbait hopefuls) – what did surprise us when we visited Lush’s Naked store in Manchester… was how much fun it made going plastic-free.
Lush, the handmade cosmetics brand, currently has three ‘Naked’ stores (in Milan, Berlin and since January this year, Manchester). All three are dedicated to haircare, skincare, bath bombs and shower gels that are completely free of plastic packaging.
So let’s have a look at five things the Manchester Lush Naked store is doing right:
1. Totally ‘grammable displays
Gone are the days when eco-friendly meant dull, worthy and unpretty. These babies would brighten up any #Shelfie.
2. Fresh, exciting product innovations
Solid shower gel that looks like bottles (made without soap, but designed to lather up with water). Gentle, natural deodorant bars, brightly-coloured shampoo bars and gorgeously scented ‘wash cards’ that are perfect for festivals… it all feels new, original and innovative. They’re even brilliant for travelling, as zero liquids means they’re flight-friendly.
3. Lots of packaging options and ideas
So no plastic doesn’t mean no choice. In their store, Lush have lots of inventive alternatives to package their products. Like cork tubs, a.k.a ‘cork-tainers’. They’re designed to be sustainable (as cork is only harvested every nine years), biodegradable and reusable, as the cork actually draws the moisture from soap or shampoo bars – so they actually last longer.
They’ve got packaging made from recycled coffee cups too. And knot wraps… fancy origami-like ways to carry things, inspired by the ancient Japanese tradition of furoshiki.
Then there are their ethically-sourced reusable bags, with cool messaging on them. If you want people to reuse stuff, make them cool, right?
4. New problem-solving tech
Question: with no packaging, how do you convey key product info? Answer: with AI, of course. The Lush Lens app lets customers scan products to find out about their ingredients, and see digital demos. They’re looking to upgrade it to include more functions too, so it’s one to watch.
5. Educating without lecturing
Lush have managed to balance a fun shopping experience with educating on the perils of plastic.
They’ve captured the growing public appetite for change (which began in earnest back in 2017 with Sir Dave’s Blue Planet, and is gaining momentum with influencers like Greta Thunberg and high profile activism from Extinction Rebellion) – and include info in-store that’s presented in an engaging, non-preachy way.
A positive move for the cosmetics sector
While it’s totally on-brand for Lush to break out from the crowd and explore the plastic-free opportunity, it’s only in three dedicated stores so far. Hopefully it will prove successful, and spread well beyond.
The beauty sector alone generated more than 142 billion units of packaging last year. And Lush estimates that if just half the amount of customers who bought their bottles of shower gel in 2016, were to switch to the brand’s naked alternative… they’d save around 2.6 million plastic bottles from ending up in landfill or the ocean. Is this the start of a new retail trend? We hope so…