The Smell of Bullshit, part 16: who comes up with Lush’s ideas?

I refer you to this thread on the forum.

For those who can’t see (or don’t want to look), Twinmum, one of the long-time users of the forum has a daughter, and when the daughter was a little girl, she designed this poster

Photo0175

for a Lush competition to design a barrel for ballistics. Shortly afterwards, after the competition entries had been sent in but before the competitions were judged, this was the back of the next Lush Times.

Picture934

When it was raised on the forum, the Lush response was

I have to say I was part of the group that came up with that idea, and we hadn’t seen [your daughter’]s entry to the comp, although great minds obviously think alike! (We actually started with a Invasion of the 50ft woman!)…HOWEVER…if she’d like a job with the design team….not really, I was going to say, I will make sure she gets something special in the post if you send your address to me

And then there’s this thread too.

In January 2011 forum user Lisaloo suggested a new product. She called Lisa’s Lust Dust and she described it as “dusting powder, reeking of Lust, no glitter but a very subtle gold mica.” In September 2011 Lush announced “Lustre Dust, fragranced with our well known Lust perfume, contains a fine gold shimmer pigment.’ The forum realised pretty quickly that there were – let’s say similarities – between Lisaloo’s suggestion and the new product from Lush and queried whether Lisaloo was getting any credit for the new product. After a couple of pages of questioning, Lush’s response came from Jack Constantine, son of Mark and Mo and it was

Hiya,

I just wanted to say that in January I held a competition on the forum in which you all came up with lovely product ideas, and I would make the most popular one. Rowan won the competition, and Lisaloo was close behind with her lust dust. I focused on making the moon on a stick, and the other ideas from the list remained in my mind and on that thread, where, as the competition came to a close, the thread dropped off the radar. I haven’t shared the ideas from that competition with the other inventors, I focused all my efforts on ensuring I did Rowan’s idea justice, and then carried on with my working Lush life. As the year continued on, the other inventors within the creative lush team worked on ideas in their own labs, and completely separately mum worked on an idea for ‘lustre’. It had no relation to the forum competition I held, as (you all know) mum doesn’t come on here…at all really. So unfortunately it is a completely random coincidence. I hope that you all know us well enough to know that we would never take someone’s idea, and not credit them for their input – and that this is purely coincidental.

I hope that clarifies things from Lush’s end a bit.

Jack

I find it very very difficult to take that answer as honest and truthful. Maybe if Lisaloo’s suggestion had appeared just once in the competition thread and never been mentioned again, it might be believable. But it hadn’t been just mentioned the once. It was mentioned by lots of people in several different threads throughout the year. I think Lisaloo even had a “Lust Dust” campaign banner in her forum signature for a while. But even if Mo truly came up with the idea independently of Lisaloo’s suggestion, other people within Lush must have known. Mark knew Lisaloo had suggested it and so did plenty of other Lush high-ups. So why didn’t they mention it?

As the debate raged on, Hilary responded with

Hi

Just popping on to say that what Jack has said is exactly my experience of this too.

And to answer the point quoted above. Jigglypaul and I have written the product descriptions on the website. And I can 100% assure you that at no point have we looked up anything on the forum to quote it. It was written from our own minds and the product QIs. So again, any similarity is entirely coincidental. Which is actually not a huge surprise, because there is not a lot else that one could say about a powder that smells of Lust and has gold shimmer in it. As Jiggly and I know, since we battled with every word of the descriptions, trying to say something unique each time.

I also would like to ask anyone who doubts our integrity when explaining this – can you explain why we have credited forumites for ideas or suggestions for other products elsewhere.
Why would we single out poor old Loo to not be credited, but thank other people for their input ??
Surely it is obvious that over the years where someone suggested something to an inventor, which triggered them on to create a product – we have put that in the copy, or the Lush Times, etc. There are plenty of examples out there of this.
I’m not sure why people think we would deliberately NOT say that ?? It genuinely confuses me.
Who is it at Lush you think is that vicious that they would sneak on here, read threads for ideas, then make products and not acknowledge the inspiration or original idea ??
Is it Big, me, Jiggly, Mo ?? Which one of us is unkind enough, sinister enough even, to do that ?????
And what is to gain for Lush, when a simple thank you and the story of the product could be given ??

It is not even that amazing that Loo and Mo have come up with the same idea independently. Both are creative women. Both probably like Lust the fragrance?

For every product that makes it to the Lush range, there are a good 20 or more ideas that were binned along the way. Sometimes because they were not good enough, sometimes because they didn’t fit the current range, sometimes because their time hadn’t come, etc,etc,etc,etc,etc.
So to be honest, most ideas have been tried in a dozen different ways by us in the labs. And when you think that Mark, Mo, Ro, Helen and Liz have been making products together, full time, for about 25 years, it is more of a surprise when anyone comes up with something stunningly original that we hadn’t all tried versions of over the years anyway. Often when people come to the labs and suggest things, we can pull examples we have tried from the cupboards here – or dig up an old prototype formula, etc,etc. Anyone who has been to the labs here can probably tell you that we have files and files of formulas of ideas we have tried that have never seen light of day – and which are pulled out and fiddled with, ideas added, new combinations tried, etc,etc,etc.

Lush is not in the business of stealing people’s creativity. But creativity is a strange thing and sometimes ideas pop up in many places at the same time. Especially when an idea seems to be ‘of the time’.

I hate the idea of Loo being upset.
I hope that having been down here and met us all, on more than one occasion, she will know us well enough and have had enough contact with our individual personalities to know that we are not spiteful or stealing type people, who would be so unkind as to steal an idea knowingly, or to not give credit where we had taken inspiration.

And then Dylan said

I know it’s been a long time since I visited the Lush Labs, but when I did, they had print outs from the forum, of threads where we were suggesting product ideas. Does that not still happen? Because if it does ever still happen, it’s entirely possible that Lisaloo’s idea was read months ago amongst all the others in a thread, mulled over in the depths of Mo’s mind, and re-emerged as an idea later, with Mo unaware that she’d been inspired by Lisaloo.

At no point did Mo make any statement on the forum about the creative process she went through when she came up with the same idea as Lisaloo.

Oh, and there was the rockets. Twinmum had won a factory trip and one of her sons had asked her to invent a rocket. She spent quite a lot of time during her factory trip working with Noriko to make rocket ballistics, trying to make them shoot across the water, and Mo Constantine commented that she liked them the best out of everything made that day. Not too much later, Lush released the Rocketeer ballistics, claiming that Jack Constantine came up with the idea.

I might invent a new product myself and call it Something Fishy.

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13 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit, part 16: who comes up with Lush’s ideas?

  1. In 2009 managers invented a whole host of products during the ‘ready steady create’ meeting. This happened off the back of the Apprentice visiting the Lush factory and making products – badly. Mark thought they had made such a hash of it that surely the managers could do better, being on the front line and knowing what the customers wanted.

    It was an exciting couple of days and lots of new products were invented. the winner was Grease Lightening, which is still being sold today. The reason it won was only partly due to the fact that it was a spot treatment and they didn’t have one prior to this. The main reason was because it would make a lot of money for the manufacturing side as it only cost 13p to produce (including packaging) yet it could be sold for 4.95 (it’s 5.95 now so that’s a hell of a mark up).

    Although the inventors of the products and the ‘ready steady create’ idea were initially mentioned in the Lush Times, at no point did they receive any other recognition of the fact that they had invented stuff that would make Lush millions of pounds. If ideas are taken up from forum members they do at least get some Lush goodies but the staff got nothing – other than the warm fuzzy feeling that they have feathered the Constantine nest even further.

  2. I distinctly remember Lisaloo mentioning ‘Lust Dust’ on Mark’s facebook page too. As for this quote from Hilary: “Is it Big, me, Jiggly, Mo ?? Which one of us is unkind enough, sinister enough even, to do that ?????”…Well just excuse me whilst I regain my composure after nearly pissing myself laughing. And where is Ms Ethical Holier-than-thou now the shit has hit the fan on the forum? Nowhere to be seen. Abandoned the oasis of free speech that she always championed. She always seemed to assume the role of the ‘voice of reason’ with the passive aggressive faux ‘we’re just humans, honest folks!!’ tones, which seemed to take half the forum in for a while, until the mask slipped.

    There is a new pseudo-intellectual taking up space though, seeming to be an innocent bystander but oh-so-obviously a sock puppet from on high. There are a few candidates for who it could be, as (I have always found from a customer point of view) there are so many people who use long and big words in Lush but without proper context or even knowing their real meaning; like so much of the web copy and A-Board slogans/window strap-lines, it’s usually meaningless drivel packaged into a catchy sound-bite. Style over content, but not even that stylish any more. Can a complete and utter dog’s dinner ever be stylish?

  3. wow, I stumbled on this blog accidentally, and as a former Lush employee, I’d like to share my own experiences:

    I worked as a SA in one of the mainland European stores. There, working conditions were dubious as well:
    – In my country, you can give employees a temporary contract 3 times, if you renew a contract for the 4th time, there is no end date to the contract. By the time my third contract was about to end, I was told that my contract would not be renewed for shitty reasons because I ‘wasn’t available enough’ – I had a contract for 4 hours a week, I worked at least 20 and jumped in so many times at the last minute when I wasn’t scheduled to work, so this was obviously a shitty nonsensical reason to get rid of me.
    – We were expected to work 8-9 hours on end, without a break. If we really insisted on having a break, we weren’t paid. Actually, this is illegal in my country. But the thing was – you were given a choice (implicitly): either take their crap or lose your job.
    – the toilet often didn’t have any toilet paper and was absolutely disgusting. I made sure I always had toilet paper in my bag to work. Also, our shop was infested with mice, and often we’d have to brush the mice shit off products before putting them in the shop again.
    – customers can hand in 5 empty pots or bottles for recycling and they get a face mask. The empty pots and bottles were taken out with all the regular trash, not sent back to the UK for re-use in the factory (as we were instructed to tell the customers).
    – the claim that all products are ‘naked’ is not entirely true. You do not want to know how thick the layers of plastic are around the products when they’re delivered to the shops. The plastic is not recycled, by the way, just thrown away with the regular trash, heading straight to landfill.
    – at its core, in spite of all the talk that Lush wants happy customers taking home the right products, you are pushed to score sales, sales and more sales. It is strictly forbidden to let any customer who comes in just browse. Even if the customer says he/she just wants to browse, you have to follow them around the store and when they look at a product, try to find an entrance with the customer again and make a sale and side sales as well.

    The worst thing is; I loved the products, I still do love some products. But I’ve lost my naiveté: Lush is not an ethical company at all. They are not nearly as ‘green’ as they claim to be. But the worst thing about Lush is how they treat their staff.

  4. I worked at Lush as a christmas temp. It was okay, but the place is a joke. The managers don’t care about anything other then making sure someone is brown nosing them. I worked their for 8 months on a temporary contract until one day they called me to the office and said “we are sorry, but your time at Lush has come to an end”. The only reason it came to an end was because I was fed with watching a 36 year old women bully people half her age – although they didn’t say that was the reason (because no reason was given). My partner also works for them and last week he came home to say that he has to work nights for a month because there is a problem with the roof. The first day he came home he had said there were live wires hanging down in front of your face, the next the roof had been off and a lot of the plug sockets had been flood, then last night he came home to tell me a conversation he had had with a stock controller who found out the roof was being repaired due to asbestos. Yet, all of the manager have avoided the question when being confronted by it – saying ‘no, it wouldn’t be asbestos’. Yet an email was sent around to all the managers of the company informing them to stay away from the building. I think the least the workers deserve is to be told there is asbestos in the building, and if they wanted to work the could. Even that would be unreasonable.

    For a place that appears to care about ethics and ecology – it’s all bull shit. The workers are treated like crap. They are against animal testing but pro workers in asbestos? I agree with the previous post, working for them I realised how unethical they really are. Where our factory was is the tip, just around the back. You witness how much of the stuff they throw away. Tons of the stuff. Apparently it goes to ‘compost’ but the glitter in the products doesn’t even compost. One product was made a few months ago, called ‘Rose Jam’, someone pointed out that it had preservatives in, but the manager gave it the go ahead anyway, after it had all been made they then turned around and said ‘Oh no, we can’t send this out, it has preservatives in it.’ So it went to the skip.

    The amount of cling film stuff that has to go around the boxes is ridiculous. You have to wear gloves because the bath bombs burn your skin due to the citric acid in it – and where do the gloves end up? The place is unbelievably dusty and all you get is a crappy disposable mask. I was given a health and safety induction 4 months after I had started, and manual handling, never! Even though the job involves lift 20kilo buckets of shit.

    When I first started I didn’t enjoy the job as much as I thought I would, they originally said “we have really great bonus schemes”. Of course they do. If you can hit the impossible target. But who can blame them, the amount of waste they make they need to make their profits from somewhere.

    For a while the managers were even choosing their staff by their Facebook accounts – using the ‘fit or not’ scheme.

    Before I started I really like the stuff, now, I will never shop with them again.

  5. Many many many years ago, there was a product ideas thread on the Lush forum – can’t remember if it was a competition or just for ideas. I put forward an idea for a ballistic, stating a very specific combination of essential oils (some very unusual), a distinctive name, and ideas for how the product should look. A year later the exact product that I had suggested was launched, with the only difference being in the colour. The name, ingredients and decoration of it were exactly as I had stated. When I mentioned this, I was basically told not to be so ridiculous as to think that the creative genius types at Lush would stoop to use an idea from a mere member of the public. Bullshit.

  6. If you look on you tube there are videos of people making foaming bath bombs about a year before Jack first “invented” them. there is nothing new about anything that Lush makes, it’s all plagerised from other people. They just hope no one will notice and they will get away with it like they always have in the past. Lush would look on it as plagerism being the sincerest form of flattery (unless someone did it to them, then they’d get all pissy) Whereas doing this is just Lush failing to have any original or innovative thoughts of their own.

    There are loads of other companies out there who make lovely stuff and who’s ethics are equally good if not better than Lush, they just don’t bang a drum and shout “look at us, we’re amazing”! when in fact Lush are not amazing. Once maybe, but those days have well and truly gone.

  7. I have been on and enjoyed using the lush Reddit page for a while, but it seems to have taken a strange turn as of late (longtime mods just up and disappeared & in popped new without a word) and the overall tone has changed completely, I now get the feeling that this lushReddit forum is now pretty consistently being trolled by and controlled by people with a vested interest in jumping on and burying any concerns, real questions or critical thought voiced about a product or practice Lush currently employs. Not to mention it is now getting flooded with over the top lush worship cheerleading comments and repetitive leading/ questions (ex: What’s your favorite lush gift to give? Best shampoo bar & solid conditioner combo,etc.?) I’m really disappointed, as I enjoyed the community prior to this stark change but because of the manipulative tactics seemingly at play, I no longer enjoy that community. After reading this blog (love it fantastic job, btw), I’m over Lush. Once I run through my current stores of lush product, I’m out. Until then, I am curious to know if there are any other forums/ chat rooms about Lush products where customers & product users can openly discuss the good, the bad & the ugly that hasn’t already been infested with Lush lackies masquerading as fellow customers shaming/ mass down-voting/ jumping down the throat of anyone daring to criticize a product?

      • Ok, I understand. I’m still reeling from what I’m reading here and am astonished at how effectively blinding Lush’s PR is. I was completely taken in. I feel duped.

        I would love to know from you and other former forum members (former “lushies”) what other companies, shops, etc. you have since found good products in that you like and use. As it looks like I will be having to change my whole routine soon, this would be immensely helpful.
        Thank you for this blog, it truly is a public service.

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