The Smell of Bullshit, part 17: sales techniques

I found this today

I hope the writer is misinformed.


40 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit, part 17: sales techniques

  1. I work in a UK store and I have to say it’s all true, sadly. With the gift boxes we are supposed to hold the box under our breasts if we are selling to men and hold it like a baby if we are selling to women. We have to demo at least 5 products on every customer – whether they want us to or not – and add on at least 2 extra products with every sale. Otherwise our manager gets really mean with us. I know she is pressured to reach sales targets and things are not as good as they were last year, profits are falling, especially with the prices rising and about to go up yet again. If she doesn’t reach her target she doesn’t get her bonus and she then withholds bonus from us for ‘not trying hard enough’. It is a horrible place to work. The only joy was the products and the 50% discount but as the evidence keeps mounting that the products are not as natural as everyone is told and the ‘safe’ synthetics they use are not as safe as they tell us and the synthetics far outweigh the natural products it is becoming difficult to be as passionate about the products and to lie to customers on a daily basis.

    The ethics are simply greenwash, the soap is not ‘handmade’, the products are not ‘fresh’, the ‘unpackaged products’ use lots of packaging before they go out for sale, they treat staff badly, they con the customers and then rake the money in. Not a nice place.

  2. Re: The sales techniques, I have no idea but it sounds like something many retailers do – but for a supposedly ‘ethical’ company to do it, it does smack of being rather hypocritical if that is the case. And seeing the contempt that Lush appear to hold their customers in, it wouldn’t surprise me. However, I wanted to share this with you; a friend said this to me the other day and it is SO true. She said to me “Do you still stop at Lush?” (knowing I had been a mega customer at one time) and I said “Hell no, I like value for money/effective products/being treated like a human being” etc. She said (and I do not lie) “Nowadays I see shopping at Lush like giving to a charity I feel sorry for! You know when Waitrose or Asda give you green tokens to put in the charity tubes when you buy your shopping? I always put my green tokens in the one that has least tokens in it as I feel sorry for them. Well when I have bought from Lush recently (for family member who still loves their Angels cleanser) I see it as a charitable purchase. Like ‘oh well, they try so hard and my daughter likes their stuff so I will put £5 their way'”.

    I wonder if that’s why other people still shop with them? Misguided loyalty? Feeling like they are giving to charity? Let’s face it, they seem to spend more time on pushing their charitable giving than making or promoting products recently. But in fact, I think Lush are the charity – a company who are desperate for custom to keep them ticking over, because all they have left is some misguided customer loyalty and lovely front line staff.

    For a while I thought “aawww they are doing their best” but when I wised up. I thought “Hang on, they can’t be doing their best. What kind of retail company ignores their customer? What kind of retailer has their MD openly dissing customers on the company forum? What kind of COSMETICS retailer launches a cosmetics line in 2012 without a buzz product like BB cream but with a load of lurid poster paints in shitty bottles instead?”. It has been my opinion for a long time that they don’t do their best – they do the minimum that they can get away with, cut corners at every opportunity, and are little children operating in the big boys and girls world. In essence, they haven’t got a scooby do. Trapped in their own little ‘we’re so innovative’ bubble. Innovation is about new solutions, or improvements on current solutions – it’s not about selling (in my opinion) inferior products with the minimum preservative you can get away with; It’s not about selling money for old rope; It’s not about preaching ‘value for money’ at your customers (like I witnessed last time I was in store – really, a £3 bubble bath is value for money? Oh hello Mr Radox, big bottle for £1.99!!). The only innovation I ever witness them using is copious amounts of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ marketing – they have taken that to a new level for sure!

    And something else I have to mention – whoever has been writing their web copy and shop copy… have they been sitting on the bog for hours with a dictionary, picking out long words to randomly throw in? They seem to like sound-bite style over context or actual meaning. When I read it, I can hear it in a rising inflection accent, like they are asking questions because they’re not quite sure themselves. Could it be a chimp wired up to a typewriter? (Although I have a feeling a chimp would do much better).

  3. They do teach gift-bosoming, and the ridiculous thing is that it doesn’t work, since most men realise when they’re being massively patronised.

  4. (ex!) Employee here – I’ve never been taught, or even heard of “gift bosoming”. I can think of a few managers I’ve known or heard of who I think that could be though!

  5. As an ex-employee, I can tell you, that on numerous occasions, I was told “sex-sells”, and I was encouraged (as all staff members were) to flirt with customers etc to gain sales. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but now, I makes me feel so – unclean.

    • Unfortunately it sounds like the lot of you have worked for//with people who are *not* representative of the LUSH global messages. I have worked at a LUSH store now for over a year and a half and have *NEVER* been told ‘sex sells’, nor have I been told to flirt with customers to gain sales. Yes we are encouraged to demo products as much as possible, but only if the customers – whom we are trained to treat with warmth and respect – agree with having demos done. We don’t force them, ignore them, or treat them with contempt. None of those behaviours are encouraged by LUSH corporate culture. It’s really too bad when individuals who don’t support the LUSH philosophy internally screw up the experience for others who work there.

  6. Never, ever have I heard of this or been taught to do this. I think this post smells of bullshit.

    • I agree, this person seems to right long stories with no evidence to back any of the stories up. Where are the screenshots or videos of all these things they allege Lush have done? They most likely worked for the company and had an issue with them and are trying to get revenge because this person has no proof whatsoever

      • well you don’t have proof. Can I see screenshots of Mark saying he hates unions? Can I see videos of inside the Lush factory of all the batches of soap being delivered to them? 0r a video of any of these things happening in a Lush store you claim happen? its all well and good to write big long stories but a story doesn’t prove anything

      • I no longer have an account on the Lush form, and obviously I don’t have access to the staff facebook group, so no, I can’t provide screenshots, but you can look for yourself. How do you think people are supposed to video managers bullying them etc? You seem to be suggesting that I’m making things up, and that everyone who has contacted me and everyone who has commented is making things up. You really think dozens of people are sitting at home making stuff up just for the hell of it?

      • I’m not saying your making it up you and whoever you have spoken to could very well be telling the truth but the problem is without seeing any proof I have hard time believing it, as I said you could be telling the truth but you also could very well be making it up I have no idea all I know is there are no screenshots or videos and I cant find any proof. The link you sent me won’t even open

      • Well, my priority is making sure Lush staff know that they’re not alone, and that they have the right to expect decent working conditions, and that they’re not imagining it when they are mistreated. Other people believing it or not is a secondary concern.

      • Just curious did you work for lush or someone you know and they treated you or them badly?

      • wow really? I know people who work for Lush and have been treated well but I live in Australia so perhaps the laws and workers rights are different? I know workers rights in the USA aren’t too good so perhaps they are good in Australia because They have to be?

      • A big part of the problem is the inconsistency. There are plenty of laws and regulations spelling out UK workers’ rights, but with Lush it really does seem to depend on the manager. So many people have commented on the 70+ Lush posts on this blog saying this manager treats people well, this manager treats people badly, it really depends who you get. And Mark said quite openly on the forum that he doesn’t see why Lush should have to pay attention to employment law because it’s expensive. When the founder of the company thinks following employment law doesn’t matter, it’s really easy for managers to get away with bad practice. A company of Lush’s size should have a proper HR department, and proper HR policies.

      • but they aren’t a family run business (not that that exempts you from the law) but they are a multi million dollar world wide company? it seems as if managers get away with being shitty with no consequence

      • Sorry If I came off as rude, I jumped to conclusions and I shouldn’t have

  7. yeah this is clearly bullshit
    I think this is just several grumpy ex employees trying to get revenge

    and whoever ‘cupcake’ is, you need to either hand your notice in or be sacked.
    I bet you happily use up your discount however while you make, unfortunately, fantasy based lies about the Lush products.
    if you really are an employee, you KNOW everything is hand made and you KNOW they’re all FRESH

    • I can assure you I am not an ex employee of Lush. It’s very clear throughout this blog that I have never worked for Lush but I know lots of people who have and several who still do. Tell me, deedee, have you asked your manager about getting a union in to recruit members in your workplace? Why don’t you try that and come back and tell us how it goes?

  8. yeah we actually use a combination of staff and unions in our recruitment evenings etc

    so unfortunately this time you were unsuccessful

    • And yet Mark Constantine himself has said publicly he doesn’t approve of unions and doesn’t want staff joining them. And lots of Lush employees talk about how they are discouraged from joining one

  9. Oh dear, deedee, I went to a recruitment evening within the last 2 months, and there was NO union representitive present – but a load of bluster and bollocks about how “moisturizing” a shampoo loaded with citrus is!

    Seeing as named staff on the international forum has also backed up the claims of lack of unoin presence, I can only smell one bullshitter, here!

  10. I attended a factory recruitment event (they were speaking to hundreds of people over 2 days) just under 12 months ago and there wasn’t even the slightest mention of unions.

    As for the ‘ethics’ of “sex sells”- time and time again lush have used sex to sell and promote their business and products- just look at this ridiculous kissing world record attempt where female staff were left to have their tit’s groped by passing strangers in the street. Absolutely horrendous. They clearly only care about the ethics of the fluffy bunnies and not at all about the welfare of their staff. Not at all an ethical way to do business. I’m so glad I had such a narrow escape…

  11. I have to wonder why so many people from the Lush staff forum/facebook page are coming over here to tell us we’re wrong when they know fine well we’re telling the truth. Makes me wonder if they’ve been told to do it..

  12. I can also confirm the ‘boob selling’ technique was indeed a suggested method of duping male customers! If this had been said in jest or tongue in cheek, then this would have been ok to me, but no it wasn’t. This gem came from young lady high up in the company (who I’d better not name,) who visited our store from Retail Support. She spent an awful couple of days with us and had many staff members in tears. I recall her telling us to ‘ let them see down your top as you’re holding the gift’ and that if we were selling to an older lady, to ‘cradle the gift like it were a child’ What utter shite!! Dreadful, patronising, need I go on?! The so called ethics of Lush are a joke and I cringe at working there at times. Many of the campaigns leave me embarrassed to be associated with this company- who I originally had so much respect for. Such a shame 😦

  13. Oh dee dee wake up and smell the safe synthetics. Lush is a house of cards, it’s ethics are greenwash, its marketing is a tissue of lies. Have you actually been to the factory and seen for yourself that the products are so mass produced that they can no longer be called hand made? The quality is now shoddy, the prices are ridiculous and people are gradually realizing that Lush isn’t all it claims to be. You too will realize, you too will wake up one day and see through the rose tinted view that all Lush employees tend to have. You have been brainwashed. You will learn. Do you even know what a union is?

  14. I think the problem here is, current Lush staff are still indoctrinated. They are in love with Lush. They want to believe Lush is true; whilst Lush is true in that it physically exists, I refer to the fantasy of Lush, the things they tell us they stand for, the whole ‘we believe’ mantra that they tell us they base their founding principles upon. None of it is true, but when you spend 12 hours a day, being paid just pence over the minimum wage, you don’t want to believe what you do is a big lie, that the people you work for are nothing more than puppeteers and magicians.

    To the Lush Staff coming here en masse: a few of you will understand where these posts have come from; some of you will sit blinking at the screen incredulously, thinking ‘it cannot be true/I refuse to believe it’s true’; some of you will get angry and attack those who have carefully & thoughtfully written out their experiences & feelings in great detail with correct grammar and spelling (I appreciate the last bit isn’t a recognisable format for Lush).

    To those fitting into the last category, I say the following: You are still in love with Lush; like an addict who can’t be helped until they want help. You will find no words of comfort here. If you do manage to read with an open mind, you will realise that not everything is rosy in the garden (and indeed, it isn’t for many companies but then most don’t profess to be ethical). If you read with your shoulders up to your ears, full of indignation, do yourself a favour and stop reading. Attacking the people commenting here will neither convert them to your cult or do you any favours.

    (As a quick side note, thinking about cults, how many people find that the “We believe” bollocks is almost prayer or canticle like? It reads like one, it looks like one, it has a similar format, a familiar rhythm and more importantly it’s not an actual representation of what happens within Lush, only what they would like to happen if they were a competent and properly functioning company run by sensible people.)

    Something the Glorious Leader often does is quote things at people, perhaps with the aim of both sounding intelligent whilst patronising as many people as possible. Problem is, he often quotes out of context. However, to help you out a bit I shall adopt one of the Glorious Leader’s techniques:

    ‘”I’ll tell you,” said she, in the same hurried passionate whisper, “what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the smiter – as I did!’”

    (Great Expectations – Charles Dickens)

  15. If Lush don’t use the ‘sex sells’ adage why was it at meetings that Mark used to say that customers will buy anything if the window says either ‘new, free or sex’.

    I once had to go out on the high street naked except for an apron. We weren’t given the choice, it was part of our job. We were also told that there would be mystery shoppers out in force that day checking up on us to make sure we did it and also the press would be out in force, so we didn’t dare to disobey. Needless to say the press didn’t turn up, and neither did the mystery shoppers, it was all lies.

    Then there was the launch of the Sex in the Shower emotibomb. The window contained the words ‘FREE SEX’ in huge letters and underneath in smaller letters it said ‘in the shower’ meaning that we would give away an emotibomb with a £20 spend or something similar. We had no end of seedy men in asking where they went for free sex.

    Then the stupid tuca tuca flashmob, where we were supposed to do a sexy dance with complete strangers. Fortunately this bombed like the perfume.

    After this came the toothy tabs promotion. The A boards outside the shop said ‘Come inside for oral pleasure’. This promotion was approved by the Lush Mafia. Mark probably thought it was hilarious. He wasn’t in the shops being shouted at by angry mothers who didn’t want to explain what it meant to their children and propositioned by males aged between 15 and 80 who wanted exactly that! We had kids parties cancelled and one of my staff was followed to the bus stop by a gang of boys who chanted filthy stuff at her.

    Now there has been the tacky kissing ‘world record attempt’.

    Yes, Mr. Constantine, your peep show-esq Benny Hill humour might work when you’re in the mafia meetings with your minions guffawing at your every word but in real life it’s just cheap, tasteless and offensive.

  16. I aw worked for lush for 5 years and I have been through many managers an I tell you I have never ever been told to sex sell. It resoculous and as for he kissing thing I got told NOT to wear the Tshirt from my manager. Sounds like these people are just fu jig crazy because my shop is defiantly not like this.

    • Or perhaps they’ve been treated in a way you haven’t? Can you guarantee that every single shop is always given the same information? Because it’s been very clear on the forum for years that shops are told different things. Nice to hear your shop is defiant though – I wish a few more were. What does resoculous mean?

  17. I think that what you are told as a member of staff depends on how long your manager has been with Lush. If you have a longer standing manager who has been to dozens of managers meetings and heard lots of crazy ideas over the years then these ideas filter down and through management; whereas if your manager has only been with the company for a short while they may not have heard about some of the more insane long standing ideas.

    Lush are notoriously bad at communicating things to their staff so these ideas, however bad, are usually transmitted by word of mouth from manager to trainee and when the trainee becomes manager the ideas live on. When new managers are taken on from outside the company they haven’t heard the older ideas so they don’t get used in those shops.

    Lush has a ridiculously high turnover of staff. Around 30% of managers leave every year and are not always replaced by trainee’s, even tho they should be as that’s what trainee’s train for. A trainee manager is effectively an assistant manager – but if they were given this title they would have to be paid more and given more rights and recognition.

    All the ideas mentioned above have been suggested by people high up at Lush HQ, it has all happened in the past. The fact that some newer staff haven’t heard of these sales tactics doesn’t necessarily mean that Lush has mended its ways and now doesn’t employ these tactics. The toothy tabs “Come inside for oral pleasure” was only a couple of years ago and the recent kissing thing just goes to show that Mark Constantine still believes that “Sex Sells!”

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