Sunday, April 21, 2013

Urban Decay: Expanding to China & Animal Testing (2012)

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
ControversyUrban Decay was founded 17 years ago by co-founder Sandy Lerner of now famed Cisco Systems. Sandy’s drive for the cosmetic industry was produced within herself because she wasn't satisfied with the alternative makeup looks that were available on the market. With the help of a colleague, David Soward, he introduced a creative businesswoman named Wende Zomnir. The three of them formed an agreement to take the Cosmetic industry by storm. It was in January 1996 when they released their brand Urban Decay with a new line of makeup different from the rest of the market. The company quickly outgrew itself and expanded not only in popular stores such as Sephora but expansion occurred in very different global regions such as the Middle East and the UK.
The success of Urban Decay can not only be attributed to its founders, but because of its loyal customers, it built from having an intrinsic policy of ending animal testing and not conducting animal testing on its own products. Instead of performing tests on animals, Urban Decay uses alternative methods to test without harming animals. These alternative methods are what helped them gain fame and success which has earned them certifications from both PETA and The Leaping Bunny Program that stringently monitor to see which companies are cruelty-free. Other than their animal-friendly oriented way of conducting business, Urban Decay is well known for their bold and vibrant trendsetting makeup. The infinitely expanding global presence and ability to overtake prestige packaging awards from major brands like Revlon and Avon displays their success.
Animal testing has been used for many years to ensure safety in products intended to be used for humans; it is commonly used in markets ranging from cosmetics to medicine. Urban Decay, a cosmetics company that is heavily invested in ending animal testing worldwide and in its own products was faced with their own dilemma of maintaining a cruelty-free product image. The dilemma for Urban Decay was whether or not to expand into China’s lucrative beauty market where they could grow very quickly like other cosmetic giants have before. If they were to expand into China, Urban Decay would tarnish their customer’s trust in the company’s ethical policy way of doing business which is to not have their products tested on animals.
The interests of the consumers wanted Urban Decay’s beauty products to be a cruelty-free and guilt-free usable product that would allow them to express an image without any worry. The consumers’ expectations of the product would be user-friendly and animal cruelty-free product. Such as the people who love animals, especially animal activists would benefit greatly due to the quality made product that competes with top name brands and still being animal-friendly. In addition, it was in their best interest that the company would be truthful and to mention any important changes in the cosmetic company. Yet switching over to the Chinese markets requires the number one thing that Urban Decay is against which was testing cosmetics on animals. However, with just one thought or idea about, this potential expansion into the Chinese market for the growth of the company made many consumers upset. The consumers believed that with the popularity of Urban Decay increasing in the United States that Urban Decay would be content with the way things were going for that cosmetics company to become one of the cosmetics giants around. The use of animals in any manner but to love and care for them are signs of animal abuse or neglect. Testing products on any animal are harmful to animals and could potentially kill the innocent animal in the process. In such cases, this is where the Leaping Bunny Program (CCIC) and PETA certify whether certain companies like Urban Decay can be certified “Vegan” in the protection of animal rights. The main interest of the company’s management is to reach and maintain a huge profit payout for the company. Even though it seemed that the goal was to expand the huge market that China will provide is sufficient enough to receive millions in return. The management for Urban Decay is a very important factor in the decision-making process because whether the customers liked a decision or not the management has the ultimate control to decide to go into the foreign markets.

The normative theory of individualism is to pursue the interests of the company, such as profits and customer loyalty, but to do so with the constraints of the law and the treatment of human rights. Urban Decay was pursuing profits; they wanted as many people as they could to purchase cosmetics from their company. However, Urban Decay managers were distracted by the sight of potential millions in China and did not properly represent their company as to what it stands for. For instance, Urban Decay expressed their interest for the Chinese market and for those of you unfamiliar with China’s policies the sticking point is this; the Chinese government reserves the right to conduct animal testing with cosmetic products before the products are approved for use by Chinese citizens.[5]. This policy alone defies the beliefs of Urban Decays’ cosmetics line animal testing policy. Yet even though there could be a big turnout in profits if their products were sold overseas in China, Urban Decay customer loyalty would dramatically decrease. This is due to the fact that if the company violates their policy to only gain profits and neglects customer opinions that have supported them, the customers would threaten to stop buying from them as seen in many active social media sites [6]. Although Urban Decay is a for-profit company, it was not breaking any laws and therefore was acting ethically under the individualism theory [3].

Wende Zomnir, co-founder of Urban Decay Cosmetics

The outcome ethical theory is utilitarianism, which states that businesses should try to maximize happiness for all stakeholders. The company as a whole should maximize happiness in order to gain more clients which could lead to profit gains that will definitely increase the happiness of the management because management is for profit. When the company is generally increasing in profits due to the gain of happy clients it will expand the company. Happiness within a company isn't easy to maintain due to the constant changes in society and the constant changes that go on in a company.
As to which Urban Decay wishes to operate and to sell in China does not make clients happy due to the guidelines of selling in that country. The cosmetic line makes phenomenal products with the best quality and also being an animal-free tested product shows the magnitude of the company’s beliefs yet they were still willing to sell to China. In order to maximize happiness, the company’s management decided to hold off before making any decision with China and to fully acknowledge what the customers were saying. In doing so created a connection between management and the clients to fully express what their thoughts and feelings were [1]. The overall effect would be that under the utilitarianism theory Urban Decay tried to maximize the stakeholder’s happiness. Just the idea of Urban Decay moving into China's market greatly affected the opinion and overall feelings established clients had about the company.

Kantianism is defined as a duties theory which states to do what is right because it is the right and appropriate thing to do and also to respect people and humanity. The most important factor to this theory is the actions and motivation towards the decisions being made in the company and whether or not it was in an ethical manner. There are two formulas for Kantianism which is first defined as the "action" to use humanity and the other is the demands for people to respect the dignity of humanity.
In the animal testing case, Urban Decay respected human rationale. The company publicly announced that they had the interest in joining the Chinese market [2]. Although the whole idea of joining China’s market contradicted what the company stood for management still continued to become more involved with China even though it isn't animal cruelty-free. They still had motives to continue even if customers didn't fight the company's decision to violate their animal-free testing policy. The company’s actions were reverted after a customer's displayed their anger about Urban Decay's thought of expansion that would ultimately go against their morals.

Virtue Theory
Urban Decay Cosmetics logo

The final normative theory is the virtue theory which seeks to develop the character traits and habits that will allow people to live a happy and meaningful life. Urban Decay clients were very brave to try a new cosmetic company when Urban Decay first came out because its name brand wasn't well known at first. Also throughout the years, the company grew many loyal customers and these loyal customers continued to bring more new customers. When management made an announcement to pursue the Chinese market there were many objections. Yet, the managers were wise and they recognized what their mistakes were and handled the situation in a mature fashion when their claims were publicized. After the event, the management team reshaped their attitudes and have come to respect and care for the people that their actions and decisions directly affected. In order to allow people to live a happy and meaningful life without the doubt of having products that were tested on animals. 

Not long after Urban Decay made the decision not to expand to China they were acquired at the end of 2012 by beauty products giant L'Oreal which has had their products tested on animals. Even though Urban Decay promised never to test animals or use raw materials that have been tested on animals – they are now acquired by L'Oreal which cannot stop their animal testing due to regulations in Europe and China. Customers that are conscious about animals now have to come to the thought provoking idea that supporting the Urban Decay brand is basically profiting L'Oreal whose standards do not fit well with animal rights activists. So by not waiting to see if China would ever change their ways with no animal testing Urban Decay instead sold themselves out which could have tarnished their reputation due to the fact that the acquired company isn't against animal testing.

Works Cited
[1] Clair, Stella. "Foreign Exchange: How Consumers Are Challenging China's Animal Testing Policies." Beautylish. N.p., 2 Sept. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

[2] Hills, Suzanna. "L'Occitane and Yves Rocher: The Big-name Beauty Brands among Those Ditching Cruelty-free Animal Testing Policies to Sell Their Products to China ." Mail Online. Dmg Media, 31 July 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

[3] Krupnick, Ellie. "Urban Decay: Animal Testing In China Is Unfortunate Reality." The Huffington Post., 22 June 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

[4] Metro. "Cosmetics Giants Look to China Sales despite Animal Testing controversy." Metro Cosmetics Giants Look to China Sales despite Animal Testingcontroversy Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

[5] Temptalia. "Temptalia Beauty Blog: Makeup Reviews, Beauty Tips." Temptalia Beauty Blog Makeup Reviews Beauty Tips Urban Decay Press Statement Animal Testing and China Comments. N.p., 6 June 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

[6] Urban Decay. "To All Our UDers:... | Facebook." To All Our UDers:... | Facebook. Urban Decay, 6 June 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.

[7] Yeomans, Michelle. "Urban Decay Comes under Fire as It Moves into Chinese Market." N.p., 21 June 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2013. 

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