Firm News

What Brands can learn from the Tarte Cosmetics Crisis

February 9, 2018

Understanding the importance of diversity and inclusion

When Tarte Cosmetics announced the launch of their Shape Tape Foundation, beauty gurus and makeup enthusiasts worldwide were hyped. Released as the counterpart to their popular Shape Tape concealers, the 15-shade foundation line had some members of the #ShapeTapeNation ecstatic but left others wondering "what about me?"

Twitter user @glowkit catapulted the controversy after posting a viral tweet with the caption, "The Tarte Shape Tape foundation shade range is LAUGHABLE." The post included 2 photos – one belonging to PopSugar which shows all 15 shades swatched on an arm and another of models from the Tarte website.

Saddened the line wasn't as inclusive as they had hoped, fans took to social media to voice their concerns. Many made it a point to highlight other beauty brands that prioritize their consumers of color. Rihanna's Fenty Beauty erupted onto the beauty scene with a 40-shade foundation line -- showcasing true inclusion, not just the routine deep shade or two. Huda Beauty later launched her super-inclusive #FauxFilter foundation, offering 30 shades from fair to rich.

The success of these lines shattered the idea that having too many shades wouldn't be profitable and proved that brands who acknowledge their multicultural consumer base can be just as, if not more, successful as their competition within their first year.

Tarte has since released an apology, stating:

"It may be too little too late, but we can assure you this was not meant in any kind of malicious way. We all just got so caught up in #shapetapenation and seeing your tweets asking for it... We wanted to get the product out as fast as possible, & we made the decision to move forward before all the shades were ready to go. We know there is no excuse, & we take full responsibility for launching this way. We lost sight of what's really important in this industry, & for those who feel alienated in our community, we want to personally apologize. We're doing everything in our power to bring those unfinished shades to market as fast as we can, at any cost. We CAN and WILL DO BETTER."

Here’s what brands can learn from Tarte’s beauty-blunder:

Diverse Organizations Are More Innovative

Having employees with diverse backgrounds, ideas, and personalities promote innovation. Recent research by Deloitte even notes that diverse and inclusive teams are more engaged and creative in their work. Having a melting pot of people brings different ideas to the table, inhibiting "group think". Each person's education, experience, values or goals can positively influence tasks such as a new ad campaign or product development.

Diverse Organizations Drive Economic Growth

A McKinsey & Company study found that diverse organizations are 35 percent more likely to financially outperform those in the bottom quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity. It makes sense: diversity translates into dollars. Organizations who support new ideas are demonstrate the ability to relate to their consumers are rewarded by increased revenue. This is why brands like Fenty Beauty and Huda Beauty have sky-rocketed. Both organizations treat their consumers as assets, not an after-thought.

Diverse Organizations are More Likely to Retain Employees and Attract New Ones

By 2025, millennialswill make up nearly 75 percent of the workforce. A study conducted by Deloitte shows that 83 percent of millennials are more engaged at work when they believe their company fosters an inclusive culture. When current or prospective employees can see that an organization respects them for who they are, they are more likely to be happy at work — and therefore more likely to stick around.

The bottom line: whether you are a multi-million dollar cosmetics powerhouse or a local start-up, learning to recognize and utilize differences can be extremely beneficial for your brand.

Tayla Young is an Intern at Bond Moroch.