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How Lush Has Grown Without Spending A Dime On Advertising

This article is part of CMO.com’s November series about commerce and consumerism. Click here for more.

Thousands of posts hit Facebook every second, and the Explore Feed could soon reduce organic reach to a thing of the past. So how can companies dominate social media without making a massive marketing spend?

Just take a look at how Lush Cosmetics is getting its story out there, with zero external advertising dollars. Rather, it harnessed organic reach and growth through an internal strategy, creating brand advocates out of its in-store staff.

“We’ve got internal brand advocates, which are our staff, and they are our customers, too,” said Natasha Ritz, brand communications manager ANZ at Lush. “They buy our product and we help service them as a communications department to know what other great messages they can be sharing. And then they create brand advocates on the shop floor by sharing those messages, pampering people, making them feel really good about coming in.”

Founded in 1995 by a team of six activists, Lush advocates on a number of global issues, namely animal, human, and environmental rights. Along the way, the company has sold ethically sourced cosmetics, bath bombs, and soap products. The firm’s ANZ business is worth $70 million alone.

Lush has accomplished this despite a global “no advertising spend” policy.

“We don’t advertise above or below the line,” Ritz said. “We don’t spend money on TV campaigns, on celebrity endorsements. We don’t promote social media posts. So everything we do is organic. Every Facebook post is organic. We have no budget to push behind it.”

Organic reach is a tricky business, but Lush remains committed to its strategy. A strong, dedicated online following means Lush has 122,000 followers, and its posts have an organic reach on Facebook of 10,000 to 600,000.

How does the company get so much exposure? The secret, according to Ritz, is bums. Or, more technically, user-generated content.

“People like to take pictures of [our products] in their shower. We get lots of nude butts … shared. People love it,” she said. “Bums make impact. It creates an opportunity for creativity. And it means that we invest in things that are more important, like our ingredients and our supply chain and where we source things from. And our people.”

Lush’s advocacy resonates with the tech-savvy Generation Z; they respect the company’s values around transparency in its supply chain and the investment into where they source their products.

Listen as hosts Nicole Manktelow and Mark Jones uncover how this 20-year-old company has leveraged its cultural authenticity to create loyal audiences. It’s bums on seats--pun intended--for this episode of The CMO Show.

The CMO Show is a podcast about brand storytelling and the future of marketing. To listen to previous episodes, visit the website or follow along on iTunes or SoundCloud.

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