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criticisms in the beauty and cosmetics industry

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criticisms in the beauty and cosmetics industry


In recent years, there have been various criticisms in the beauty and cosmetics industry. These criticisms concern misleading advertisements that mislead the various customers with reference to their products and services. Various business organizations are engaging in advertisements that exaggerate the benefits of a product or service they produce. As a consequence, consumers yield to the psychological pressure of the persuasive nature of the advertisements. Therefore, consumers intentionally purchase the product or service, as stated by Noom (2012, p. 3). In this sense, misleading advertisement entails an advertisement that contains deceptive, false, or misleading information. The information has the effect of making an average customer act in a manner that they might otherwise not acted. In addition, misleading information encompasses leaving out important information that an average consumer requires in making an informed decision about a product or a service. Various parties engage in misleading advertisements. These include distributors, manufacturers, retailers, various websites, catalogues among others. Subsequently, when consumers purchase these beauty products or services, they have bad experiences that are different from what the organizations advertised to the consumer. In this sense, there is harm to the consumers when they believe that misleading advertisements are true, and yet they are false (Hattori and Higashida, 2012, p.1156). Consequently, many consumers purchase and later find out that the benefits of these products and services are not equivalent to the promises, benefits, and features, among others, that the advertisements represented to them.

There are various cases of misleading advertisements in the cosmetics industry. An example is L’Oreal’s advertisement that featured Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, a supermodel. The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) banned this advertisement because it was overly airbrushed. L’Oreal, which is a French make-up company, made an admission that the images used in that advertisement were manipulated digitally as well as retouched. In this sense, ASA banned L’Oreal’s advertisements of two brands that are Lancome and Maybelline. Despite this instance of misleading advertisement by L’Oreal, there is another instance in 2007 that ASA as an advertising regulator, disapproved of the television advertisement of L’Oreal for mascara. The advertisement featured Penelope Cruz basing on the fact that it was unclear that Cruz was wearing fake eyelashes in the given advertisement. To add on that, L’Oreal faced criticism concerning the whitening of the skin of Beyonce in Feria hair colour advertisements.

Another incidence happened in 2009 when Ralph Lauren got flack for carrying out a photoshop of a body of a model that made it grossly undersized. In this sense, exposing consumers to images that the media propagates that relate to body images that are not realistic has adverse effects. These effects relate to health problems for adolescents as well as various eating disorders, as stated by The Consumerist, with reference to this advertisement. Subsequently, Ralph Lauren apologized in a statement for the retouching stating that they addressed the problem and onwards, they will ensure that they take every precaution to make sure that their artwork’s caliber is a representation of their appropriate brand. On the other hand, a recent advertisement carried out by Louis Vuitton that features Angelina Jolie made claims that the celebrity did not have make-up when taking her photograph. The advertisement was misleading because a closer look at the photograph shows that Angelina Jolie does not have naturally smoky eyes. As a consequence, the various misleading advertisements for cosmetics such as the advertisements by L’Oreal leads to the creation of expectations about a given product advertised by the various entities that are not realistic. In this sense, it entails misleading the customer in a deliberate manner. Therefore these cosmetic brands, as well as luxury clothing brands like the case of Ralph Lauren, engage in creating negative self-image in adolescents that are impressionable. The effect of this is the creation of beauty expectations that are not realistic. Therefore these practices are unethical to a large extent as they deceive the consumers with the objective of increasing sales at the expense of consumers. In this sense, there should be ethical considerations that various business organizations consider while engaging in advertising their products and services to consumers.

Marketing opportunity

In the current world, there is an increase in the use of cosmetic products. Therefore various beauty and cosmetic business entities are engaging in the production of various cosmetic products. The reason for the continual increase of cosmetic products is the appreciation of beauty as well as the pressure that the society creates towards people looking good hence increasing the demand for cosmetic products. Therefore various entities in the cosmetic industry engage in advertising their products in the quest to tap into the increasing demand for cosmetic products. Advertising is one of the most integral aspects of a business organization because of its influence on marketing products or services. According to Belch and Belch (2012, p. 374), advertisements use persuasive communication to promote products and services of various business organizations. Smith and Higgins (2000, p.306), on their part, assert that the purchasing behavior of consumers depends in most cases on the liking and disliking of the advertisement of a given product or service. Hartmann and Apaolaza-Ibáñez (2012, p. 1256), on their part, allude that what influences the behavior of consumers is the emotional reaction developed after advertisements. Therefore the behavior of consumers towards a given product or service depends on the advertising entirely without engaging in any assessment of the product’s quality (Gorn, 1982, p. 96). In the event that the consumers discover that the products or services they purchased do not have the equivalent benefits, features among others as promised by the advertisements, they usually develop a negative attitude towards a given business entity that mislead them in their advertisements. In this sense, it creates distrust or unwillingness to continue as a customer of a given product or service.

Corporate Socially Responsibility in Cosmetics Industry

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a broad term used in diverse ways. According to Mohr et al. (2001, p. 50) Corporate, Social Responsibility refers to the commitment of a company to avoid harm as well as improve the wellbeing of society and the stakeholders as a whole. Garriga and Mele (2004, p. 60) provide a theoretical overview of Corporate Social Responsibility. The authors presented four distinctive motives in the CSR literature that are the driving factors to various organizations to take part in Corporate Social Responsibility. The instrumental purpose is the first one, whereby CSR serves as a way of ensuring an organization achieves profits. The presumption, in this case, is that an organization serves as a tool for creating wealth. In this sense, the economic purpose of creating wealth is the sole purpose for the existence of the organization. Therefore the various social activities that have economic benefits are the only ones accepted. Hence the organization employs consumer concern to ensure it creates a competitive advantage, as stated by Smith and Higgins (2000, p. 308). Political purpose is the second motive for CSR relating to the social power that an organization has in society. Therefore organizations have to accept social duties as well as contribute to social cooperation (van Roermund and Menchen-Trevino, 2013, p.9). According to Morsing et al. (2008, p. 98), these duties encompass the following. First, supporting the activities of the community. Additionally, taking good care of the employees. Furthermore, engaging in business practices that are environmentally friendly. The integrative purpose is the third motive for CSR, which refers to the integration of certain social demands in their CSR strategy. The reason for the existence of organizations in society, and they also depend on society for growth and continuity. Hence should operate in line with the existing social values in society. Ethical values are the last motive which entails accepting social responsibilities. According to Garriga and Mele (2004, p. 60), this motive has a basis in the requirement of achieving a good society or the right thing to do. Consequently, organizations engage in CSR as they feel obligated to do so hence creating a better society. The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility existed since the 1950s and evolved in conception over the six decades.

In the 21st century, CSR refers to the approach a business organization takes that leads to the contribution of sustainable development through the delivery of social, economic and environmental benefits to all the stakeholders (González-Rodríguez, Díaz-Fernández, and Simonetti, 2015, p. 840). Therefore these three, that is, economy, society, and environment, form the elements of sustainability. Consequently, they form the 3 E’s model (Ecology, Economy, and Equity). (Tai and Chuang, 2014, p. 117). The below figure depicts the relationship in the 3 E’s model.


According to the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), sustainable development refers to meeting the current needs without any compromise to the capability of the future generations meeting their own needs. In this sense, sustainability or sustainable development entails fair trade, business ethics, and workers’ rights in the socio-economic aspect. Furthermore, it encompasses environmental justice and stewardship of the natural resources in the socio-environmental aspect. Additionally, it includes energy efficiency, which relates to subsidies and incentives in using natural resources in the environmental-economic aspect.

Sustainability also entails the Triple Bottom Line aspect, as shown below.


The aspect between people and the planet should be bearable, the aspect between the planet and profit for organizations should be viable while the aspect between people and profit should be equitable. Therefore sustainable development encompasses these three fundamental areas of life. Thus for CSR to ensure sustainable development, it should consider both the future and present needs in the course of making decisions concerning the use of energy and resources, the direction of investments, technological development, political, social, and institutional changes, among others.

Corporate Social Responsibility is important because it improves social welfare as well as and motivating the organization to take CSR actions. These motivations include competitive advantage, enhancement of image, among others (Lynes and Andrachuk, 2008, p. 380).


Stakeholders refer to the various interest groups that relate to a given organization hence can affect the organization, or the organization can affect them (Karna et al., 2001, p. 850). There are various stakeholders for a given organization, which include suppliers, customers, shareholders, employees, communities, governments, unions, among others (Chu and Lin, 2013, p. 50). Recognition of stakeholders and their demands is vital for an organization. Organizations face various demands from different stakeholders for the purposes of investing in CSR policies.

There is a significant role that CSR plays in the cosmetics industry. Consumers usually use cosmetics products on themselves that include their body parts, which leads to the creation of personal interaction with the industry. For this reason, many consumers want information concerning various CSR activities of business organizations that engage in the production of various cosmetics products. In this way, the activities will show the honesty, reliability, and quality of the cosmetics brand. The pioneers of various CSR committed activities, as well as policies, entail the cosmetics industry for purposes of changing the purchase behaviors of consumers.

The primary emphasis of CSR for cosmetics organizations includes the protection of the environment like the use of recycled materials. Additionally, ecological issues like the preservation of the ecosystem. Furthermore, social standards that are both external and internal. Consumers want information relating to the ingredients used in manufacturing cosmetics products, participation in fair trading as well as if they are tested on animals.



McWilliams and Siegel (2001, p. 120) stated that consumers value the attributes of CSR to a great extent. Therefore organizations should implement CSR as a differentiation strategy for purposes of meeting the demands of consumers. Furthermore, benefitting the organization economically. An example entails organic products where an organization would be able to charge a new premium price for socially responsible products and services. In this sense, to achieve differentiation, organizations should invest heavily in research and development hence lead to product innovation. The reason for this is that various consumers have preferences for products that possess various features of social responsibility, such as product innovation. On the other hand, there are various consumers that take a keen interest in knowing that the various services or products that they purchase went through a socially responsible process (process innovation) (McWilliams et al., 2001. p. 121). In this sense, organizations could take advantage of this to provide socially responsible products and increase their competitive advantage.

Additionally, business organizations should ensure that their customers are aware of the CSR policy to ensure success in the CSR differentiation strategy. Resultantly, business organizations should use advertising as a key tool in creating as well as enhancing awareness. Cosmetic products belong to the category of products and services known as experience goods. The reason for this is that consumers comprehend the true value of cosmetics products when they purchase and use them. Subsequently, experience goods’ advertisement consists of more information that links the product with a known brand name. The relation, therefore, ensure that the consumer gets information concerning the product by connecting it with the brand’s reputation. It achieves this through the creation and implementation of the awareness of the consumer about CSR. Thus ensures that an organization creates a reliable and honest reputation. In most cases, many consumers presume that the services and products of an honest and reliable business organization are of high quality. Resultantly advertisement provides this information concerning the attributes of CSR of an organization. The information can lead to the creation and sustenance of a reputation of high quality, honest and reliable products, which would increase an organization’s success.

Many consumers need cosmetics products and services that have a reputation because of the increase in the demand for products that enhance the beauty in the current world. In this sense, there is a market opportunity as a result of an increase in demand for the products and services that are socially responsible. Therefore, various business organizations should take advantage of the increasing demand for cosmetic products and present the real benefits that a consumer will get by using their products. In this sense, due to the fact that most consumers depend on advertisements in purchasing their products, engaging in an ethical advertisement would attract many consumers to given cosmetic brands. Creating trust in various consumers through ethical advertisements would increase customer loyalty hence increase the marketing performance of business organizations in the cosmetic industry.

There are many consumers who value CSR and, therefore, willing to pay higher prices for products or services that have additional social characteristics as opposed to those identical to the product that does not have these characteristics. European Commission conducted a survey that depicted about 70% of consumers support the importance of business organizations committing to social responsibility. Furthermore, about 44% of the consumers were willing to pay prices that are higher with reference to products and services that are environmentally socially responsible (CSR Europe, 2000, p. 1). Managers can, therefore, use these strategies to improve ethical performance as well as increasing the profitability of the brands of various cosmetics products.


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