Lush is a natural cosmetics company that was born in the UK in 1995. They are well known for their strong stance on ethical and environmental matters, as well as their use of high quality ingredients in their handmade products.
What you may not be aware of, however, is that Lush takes an innovative approach to the printed materials used throughout their stores. Creativity, fueled by a passion to make the world a better place, helps Lush excel in the crowded cosmetics market space. Lush’s core competencies are superbly communicated through their marketing materials and packaging, and printers can learn something from Lush’s approach.
Lush Print & Packaging
Lush is no stranger to using non-traditional packaging to communicate their brand message. For example, the company experimented with wrapping their solid cleansers in corn husks (inspired by Latin American tamales), as this packaging is 100% natural and biodegradable. They have also thought outside of the traditional square-shaped box to incorporate packaging that mimics shopping for natural fresh fruit versus shopping at a traditional cosmetics retailer for unnatural products.
Lush’s soaps and bath bombs are sold naked (ooh la la!), which mimics shopping for fresh ingredients in an open-air market. Soap is sold by weight and can be cut to size just like cheese. Only then is the product wrapped in minimal packaging and labelling; enough to scan the product at the checkout counter and safely transport the product home.
Lush has also adopted the eco-friendly packaging techniques of other countries; namely Japan. A traditional Japanese wrapping technique (called Furoshiki) encourages consumers to rethink one time use packaging. Lush states, “…there’s no waste involved, it looks beautiful, and whoever receives it can use it again and again”.
Most cosmetics companies wouldn’t take the time to tell their consumer who made each of their lotions or shower gels, probably because machines, not humans, made them. Lush makes the effort and puts a face to each of their products (literally!) by including a label on each package, showcasing the producer’s face. This label reminds customers that Lush’s products are handmade by people just like them, reinforcing local, community-based manufacturing.
Lush also helps to close the waste loop. They encourage consumers to not only recycle their used printed plastic pots, but take it one step further and will “pay” them for the return of clean and empty containers by offering free merchandise. Lush sells many of their cosmetic products (such as shampoo, conditioner and hand lotion) in bar format in order to reduce unnecessary weight when shipping the hydrated version of their products. Additionally, they will sell metal tins with these products to promote simplicity and reuse, further reinforcing their brand message.
Finally, Lush’s quarterly catalogs read more like high-end magazines than brochures selling products. The most recent issue is packed with articles and beautiful photography educating consumers all about issues that matter most to the brand, such as using Fairtrade ingredients, actively participating in a worldwide community to help those in need, and protecting mother nature and her wildlife. These publications are always printed on uncoated, 100% recycled paper (both cover and internal pages).
Lush knows who they are. They know what they believe in and their printed collateral is simply an extension of their brand. Even though Lush appears to employ minimal printing and packaging, there is still a lot of material to be printed: from boxes to paper wrappers, fabric, labels, publications and beyond.
The key lesson to be learned is that printing companies can more effectively guide their customers to the printing options that are best suited for them by first understanding more about their customer’s brand. It all starts by asking: “Why is my customer in business? What’s important to them? How can printed pieces best communicate their brand messages to consumers?” True consultative selling can then take place, as you offer unique solutions that mean a lot to your customer’s customer, helping drive sales for everyone involved. Understanding what drives customer decisions can help printers sell solutions, not printing.