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Lush's bath bombs vs big tech: How can brands better embrace ethical data use?

Lush's bath bombs vs big tech: How can brands better embrace ethical data use?

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Lush is joining forces with the decentralised movement People vs Big Tech this Black Friday, to raise money for its work to rebel against big tech companies that have monopolised the Internet with intrusive surveillance, harmful content and predatory additive algorithms.  

Launching on Black Friday (24 November), Lush eCommerce sites in the UK, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Japan, Australia and New Zealand will sell a limited-edition bath bomb called The Cloud, with 100% of the sales price going to People vs Big Tech.  

The company also encourages consumers to join the Big Tech Rebellion by signing a campaign called People's Declaration. They will join an open network of concerned individuals and civil society organisations working together to challenge the power and abuses of big tech companies. 

The Big Tech Rebellion initiative was first introduced in March 2023, when Lush decided to move away from tech giants such as Meta in favour of smaller, more agile and open-source communities. 

Don't miss: Lush turns its back on Google ads in 'big tech rebellion'

Annabelle Baker, global brand director at Lush, said: "Black Friday is generally a time when the big tech companies rake in huge profits, but at what cost? It's important that we campaign at this critical time of year to fund movements like People vs Big Tech which are providing a pathway to a future without surveillance advertising or predatory algorithms and putting the control back into the hands of the people." 

Lush CDO Jack Constantine added, "On Black Friday two years ago we announced our 'anti-social' policy where we removed ourselves as a brand from Meta platforms, as well as TikTok and Snapchat.”

“We're thrilled to be working with People vs Big Tech this Black Friday, as the time has come to start actively campaigning for legislative change and enforcement to level the playing field and take back some of the control that the big tech companies have,” he added. 

Strategic move on Black Friday

For years, a handful of tech billionaires have been running the internet as if a bunch of feudal kings, harvesting and profiting from brands' data while their platforms wreak havoc on everything from mental health to democracy, according to Tanya O'Carroll, founder of People vs Big Tech. 

"But an amazing generation of young leaders are rising up and fighting back, united by a vision for a better online world — where children are protected from deliberately addictive apps, where we can go online and trust what we'll see in our feeds, where we can learn, explore and connect with loved ones without being relentlessly spied on," she added.

Industry players MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to believed that this move comes at a strategic time to promote ethical marketing and data privacy on Black Friday. 

David Ko, managing director, RFI Asia, said Black Friday is a good occasion to promote the initiative, because it is a time when many people shop online and are exposed to the big tech companies’ practices.  

“It is also a time when people can reflect on their consumption habits and values, and choose to support ethical and sustainable alternatives,” he added. 

Meanwhile, by declaring war against the tech giants with its bath bombs, Lush is on a crusade to set people free from surveillance advertising or predatory algorithms this Friday, according to Jeff Cheong, CEO, DDB Group Singapore. 

“It has been consistent with this narrative[…]Lush’s ethical policies go from products to people and believes technology should give more than it takes from society and the environment,” he added. 

How can brands ensure data privacy in an era of big tech? 

The Big Tech Rebellion initiative doesn’t come out of the blue. In fact, 67% of APAC consumers were concerned about the issue of privacy, while 84% said they want more control over how their personal information is used, according to GroupM’s 2019 report titled “Data Privacy and Brand Trust in Asia Pacific – Turning Risk into Opportunity”. 

The result is backed by Lush's 2023 report conducted with The Future Laboratory titled "Digital Engagement: A Social Future", discovering that 65% of global consumers don't want social media brands to use their data for commercial benefit, and a huge 70% are calling for global legislation that protects the safety of people online. 

To enable consumers more control, brands must prioritise transparency and the use of algorithms such as how cookies are used to suggest, and personalise the experience; asking permission for data collection as personal data is owned by the customer; giving full control over their personal information with options for customers to manage their preferences and consent, said DDB’s Cheong.  

Reducing reliance on tech giants such as Amazon and Google also allows brands to have more control over data privacy measures.   

Cheong said brands must diversify their advertising strategies by exploring alternative platforms and not have all the eggs in the same basket. “Brand can foster direct relationships with consumers, and investing in first-party data, implement CRM and content strategy.” 

Furthermore, brands can use opt-in consent models, data minimisation principles, encryption and anonymisation techniques, and alternative revenue streams that do not rely on surveillance advertising, according to RFI Asia’s Ko.  

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