The Shiseido-owned popular cosmetics name has built an ethical reputation on its cruelty-free stance, which it has now had to retract to launch its product range in China directly to consumers.
Although CDA reported earlier in the year how China’s Food and Drug Administration were simplifying the filing management process for specific first-import non-special use cosmetics. In the Chinese marketplace, animal testing is obligatory for all cosmetics companies.
China is proving problematic for a growing number of cosmetics companies looking to enter the leading beauty market. Known for its prominent lip care and colour cosmetics sectors, large European multinationals are faced with the decision to either avoid China and maintain their ethical positioning or enter the Asia Pacific (APAC) region and risk users shifting to the competition.
Social media support
And that is the situation that Nars faced. With choosing to enter the Chinese market, its loyal beauty supporters are now expressing their plans to boycott the Japanese-based brand on social media and encouraging others to follow suit with the hashtag ‘boycottnars’.
Following the backlash, on 27th June 2017, Nars posted an Instagram response to the criticism that acknowledged fans’ feelings and reaffirmed their ethical standpoint: “We want you to know that we hear you. The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen,” Nars stated.
“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,” it went on to say.
In 2016, the US International Trade Association Report on Asia Personal Care & Cosmetics Market Guide, revealed how “China is projected to become the largest market for personal care and cosmetics products globally in the next five to ten years, with an estimated $50 bn (€43.8 bn) in domestic sales in 2015, with 7% to 10% annual growth predicted in 2016 and beyond”.
Other multinational companies including Nars owner Shiseido, Benefit, Rimmel London and L’Oreal have made their entrance into the Chinese marketplace in recent years.
While since March 2013, it has been illegal to permit cosmetic sales that contain ingredients that have been tested on animals in Europe, China enforces the requirement to conduct animal testing on cosmetics coming to market.
While Nars emphasises that it “is committed and actively working to advance alternative testing methods [and] are proud to support the Institute for In Vitro Science, a globally recognised organisation at the forefront of advancing non-animal methods in China and around the world”, in the same social media post, the brand states that it has “decided to make Nars available in China because we feel it is important our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region”.
To conclude, it seemed to aim to reassure beauty buyers of its position by highlighting that it “is hopeful that together, we can work toward a cruelty-free world”.