There are two LUSH products that Jeon usually uses.
/Photography by Woo Ji-yeon
As the MZ generation expands to the main consumer base, the words “value consumption” are becoming one of the new consumption cultures beyond a trend. Value consumption refers not to being swayed by advertisements or brand images, but to follow a method of actively expressing one’s belief by selecting and consuming products that meet the values one is pursuing. This is also the appearance of “Meaning out activity,” a type of consumer movement that actively expresses its meaning, such as political and social beliefs, through consumption activities. The beginning of meaning out is “Cruelty-free.” Cruelty-free refers to a product that has not undergone animal testing or has not used animal materials. The emergence of good consumers who think about the environment has swept the global trend. It is still growing due to marketing techniques as the trend expands beyond cosmetics and food to various industries such as clothing. Let us find out how many products are transforming, following the trend.
Generation changes led to a good consumption craze
WGSN, a global trend company, analyzed a report called “Generation Z: New Beauty Building,” which highlighted that as of 2020, 40% of cosmetics consumers belonged to generation Z born after 2000, and that consumption by them is increasing. In other words, generation Z has emerged as a major consumer along with the previous generation, millennials. At the same time, as the number of green consumers that consider environmental and ethical consumption increases, sustainable consumption is expanding in the cosmetics market. According to a survey of 2,000 women conducted by CJ Olive Young and Self Beauty, a beauty content platform, from June 17th to 24th, 2020, 71.1% of the respondents showed high regard for eco-friendly production or ingredients, brand value, social activities, and vegan certification. In addition, 40.8% of people chose cruelty-free products that do not harm animals in the manufacturing process as a good consumption standard considered important when purchasing cosmetics, and more consumers considered eco-friendly and social activities. They even express their beliefs through consumption by projecting and identifying themselves with the images of products and companies to increase their social value and pursue sustainable consumption that considers the Earth. Furthermore, according to Trend Monitor, 53.7% of people in their 20s answered positively that they were willing to pay additional costs to purchase the ethical product.
Cruelty-free beauty items are getting popular for all
So, how does this consumption trend of the MZ generation appear in the beauty industry? More than 100 million animals around the world are being used annually for experiments for beauty products, leading to painful deaths. In Korea, 3,712,380 animals were killed in a total of 386 institutions, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as of 2019. To evaluate the safety of cosmetics, eye, skin, and toxicity experiments are conducted. Animals mobilized for the experiments are rabbits, nude mice, and rats, as well as hamsters, beagles, and marmoset monkeys. As of 2019, 27,001 rabbits were mobilized for the experiments, as they are biologically similar to humans and are most widely used in the experiments due to low costs. This is why rabbit images are mainly used as marks symbolizing cruelty-free. The most well-known is the Draize Test, an eye experiment using rabbits. Rabbits have similar pH concentrations in their eyes as humans. They are also widely used since they do not have tear glands, have fewer tears, and blinks. Even if harmful substances are put into the eyes, it cannot be washed away with tears, allowing researchers to put larger amounts of chemicals and thus advantageous for longer observations. During this test, rabbits suffer from extreme pain, even leading to inflammation and blindness.
Jeon, who was shocked to see this through an Internet news article, found it difficult to use the product she had been using since she saw the poor photos of rabbits. She searched on the Internet and encountered cruelty-free beauty products. In the case of LUSH, an English handmade cosmetics brand, 85% of the products produced are vegan, and more than 70% have no chemical preservatives and are cruelty-free, so she decided to use this brand actively. Also, this brand uses a safer and healthier ingredient to minimize synthetic preservatives. She said, “Products were not that cheap, but I thought that everyone had to know how many animals were sacrificed for our beauty.” Some beauty companies actively utilize these consumer trends to promote their brands. They put on a certification mark indicating that their products do not conduct animal testing or progress a campaign to sign against animal testing, to announce that they are ethical companies as a kind of marketing technique. The most famous and the most mentioned brand according to Insight Korea in 2019 was LUSH, which deals with companies that do not experiment with animals. It makes safe products with the ideology and value of making effective products using only minimal packaging, preservatives, and safe vegetarian raw materials. LUSH revealed that the number of animals killed in the 2020 experiment was 4.14 million, pointing out that the number of animals killed by experiments increased by about 44% compared to five years ago, and that it is trying to break the chain of cruel pain. LUSH has not only sold beauty products, but has also launched a campaign to encourage vegetarianism to protect the climate crisis, environment, and animal protection through its official website. It is also steadily conducting signature campaigns to urge the passage of the domestic animal replacement test act.
Cruelty-free craze dominates the fashion trend
The fashion consumes as many animals as people eat. Until now, inhumane atrocities have been conducted to obtain quality leather in the process of collecting animal raw materials. However, some people who reflect on themselves think humans are unethical when exploiting animals, and the movement to pursue animal-friendly consumption has expanded to vegan fashion. Vegan fashion is an ethical, eco-friendly, and sustainable fashion product, and one of them is cruelty-free. This is a product that does not conduct animal experiments and does not use animal raw materials. It is also an ethical commitment not to use pain for coexistence with animals. Not Ours, the first domestic vegan brand, contains concerns about sustainable living through the name “Not Ours.” It seems to be interested in everything that connects to the entire process of a single product coming into the world and being discarded. It is even conscious of minor impact on the environment, such as delivery boxes and the tapes used to seal products. The slogan cruelty-free is put forward to end the pain of fur animals. It also led to a positive response by planning to change consumers’ perception of artificial fur products attractively by conducting campaigns for animals and the environment.
Today, called the era of consumption, is an era in which every member of our society has a significant influence on society by choosing where to spend their money. Their changes and movements can be an indirect but direct message to companies that continue animal testing. The value of the life of animals destroyed in animal experiments, and in clothes to wear is not much different from ours. Animals are not someone’s possession or material we can use. Lives that must be respected as individuals. Why do we not start using cruelty-free so that animals, people, and the environment can stay happy in the future?
Woo Ji-yeon firstname.lastname@example.org
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