Just last week I heard rumors that Urban Decay, super funky and super cool makeup that once touted, “We don’t test on animals. How could anyone?” has decided to sell their products in China. This is a huge deal because they (China) require cosmetics companies to pay for many of their products to be tested on animals in Chinese laboratories before they can be marketed there.
Below is the original press release that was sent out, which they later removed.
Urban Decay is going to sell our products in China. Because of China’s policies on animal testing, we know that this will not be a popular decision with some of our loyal customers. But the decision is a thoughtful one.
For 16 years, we have been committed to two key causes: women’s rights, and the fight against animal testing. Our dedication to those causes will not waver.
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. The government has not told us if they have exercised this right with our products. So, our brand does not test on animals, but the Chinese government might conduct a one-time test using our products. Do we like China’s policies? No…and that is really the point. Going into China was a huge decision for Urban Decay. But, we believe that change cannot and will not happen by outside pressure alone in a closed market. Change can only happen from within. When we enter the Chinese market, we will do our part to help make those changes.
When we were considering expanding into China, a group of marketing consultants told us to remove the section of our company history that describes our crusade against animal testing. “It doesn’t mean anything to the Chinese beauty customer,” they said. Of course, we refused. Our “no animal testing” policy is part of who we are, and has been since day one. The news that animal issues don’t even register with the average Chinese consumer was one of the biggest factors in our decision to go there. During Urban Decay’s infancy, we worked hard to inform consumers about animal rights in the United States and Europe. The battleground for animal rights is now in China, and we want to be there to encourage dialogue and provoke change.
We also hope to shed some light on women’s rights issues in China. As a company that caters to a female customer, this is extremely important to us. For one thing, going into China is a way for us to advance women into important professional positions. We will help grow the cosmetics industry, which primarily employs and creates career paths for women. Although workers’ employment rights are a relatively new concept there, progress has been made partially because of pressure from businesses, consumers, and advocacy groups from other countries. Based on this, our belief is that both an outside force and inside pressure for change can result in helping transform both the importance of women and animal testing policies in China. And more importantly, we hope to influence the perspective of the citizens on both of these issues.
If we don’t go to China, other companies without our beliefs will, and the culture will never change. We want to encourage a culture of consumers who care enough to buy cruelty-free products, and who view professional women as role models who influence their lives on a daily basis.
Yes, we are a for-profit company. And yes, we would eventually like to make money in China. But we don’t stand to turn a profit in China for quite a while, partially because the market isn’t quite ready to sustain an untraditional brand like ours. If it were only about the money, we would wait a few years. But our foray into this market is also about participating in an amazing time of change in China. We don’t like animal testing (and neither do the 13 dogs in our office), but we are trying to change the world… even if it is one eye shadow at a time! Sitting on the sidelines isn’t our style. We understand that you might not like our decision, but we hope you can respect it.
For any advocates or Urban Decay fans interested, Urban Decay founding partner Wende Zomnir will host a live chat on urbandecay.com to answer questions about our entry into China.
I sent an email to UD and had intended on following up with some questions. However, another blogger posted a Q&A, which you can read here at Temtalia.com.
This has caused a fire storm of backlash at UD. Fans on their FB page are unhappy and are making it known. A few supporters are hanging on but few – very few.
KD: No longer a fan. Goodbye!
AB: “But, animal rights are still very much important to Urban Decay,” and your profit is even more important.
KB: We all see through this press release, Urban Decay. This isn’t about supporting women’s rights in China, this is about MONEY. If you just admitted that, I’d have at least a shred of respect for you. I’ll admit that I don’t use exclusively cruelty-free cosmetics – it’s a bonus for me, not a requirement – but I will no longer purchase Urban Decay because you have now shown yourselves to be a company that LIES. Did you really think your consumers were going to buy this line of BS about trying to change Chinese laws regarding animal testing? If you really meant that, you would have tried to do it before expanding to China, not after.
JG: :( booooo
JW: How can you be part of this cruelty?
I’ve always been so proud of using your products, now I’m ashamed.
Your greed to make money obviously outweighs your ethics.
I will never buy your products again whilst you supply china snd there disgusting law and will dispose of all my UD products.
GC:Please remove all Cruelty-Free badges and Logos from your products and website.
I have yet to see a time and date for the live chat they keep talking about but I will try and keep you posted.
In the meantime, they are pulling their leaping bunny and cruelty-free slogans from all of their products. This is a step backwards for animal testing – very disappointing.