When Profits and Purpose Collide

Companies are often faced with tough decisions. But what does a company do when it must make a decision that affects the very core of its brand, one that puts profit and purpose at odds?

Urban Decay, a makeup brand known as much for its avant-garde color combinations as its vegan and animal cruelty-free stance, has recently made a major decision to sell its products in China, where animal testing is required by law, reports Ragan's PR Daily. Although Urban Decay affirms this will not change its own animal testing policy, a move into China would mean the Chinese government would have the authority to perform testing on the company's products before they go to market. Customers and animal advocates alike have been shocked by the announcement, taking to Facebook and other social media outlets to air their grievances. Meanwhile, animal rights advocacy group PETA has removed Urban Decay from its list of cruelty-free companies. Urban Decay responded with a Facebook post stating it will host an online chat with founding partner Wende Zomnir to answer questions and clarify the move; yet, three weeks later, there is still no date set for the event. As all this is going on, consumers continue to vocalize their discontent and look to the company for answers.

A company that puts purpose at the forefront of its brand must be sensitive to the implications of altering these values, especially if it has a loyal, activist consumer who is particularly attuned to hot-button issues. Urban Decay might be gaining new market potential by entering China, but will it be at the sacrifice of its original customer base?

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