Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2014

Jurlique: Globalizing Beauty from Nature and Science

by Geoffrey Jones and Andrew Spadafora

Abstract

Considers the marketing and strategic challenges faced by natural beauty brands using the case of Australian-based Jurlique, which was acquired by Pola of Japan in 2011. The case opens two years later in July 2013 when Sam McKay, the chief executive officer, on a visit to Pola's head office in Tokyo, heard news of critical comments about the company and animal testing in a Facebook post from a group in South Australia, where the brand had been founded as a small biodynamic farm in 1985. The discussion of Jurlique's involvement with animal testing was a sensitive issue as it contradicted the brand's strong environmentally-friendly and ethical positioning. The matter had already arisen during the Pola acquisition as Pola, like all Japanese cosmetics companies, traditionally tested products on animals. The animal testing issue is put in context by a discussion of how during Jurlique's growth as a successful premium brand there had been substantial changes in market position, in part associated with shifts of ownership. At times the brand had been focused on core green consumers, but McKay had sought to broaden the consumer base by repositioning it as making "the most effective products as natural as possible." The company lost few existing customers, and found that Jurlique's image was an asset in attracting Chinese consumers who liked the story of the Australian farm which produced most ingredients. However, Chinese regulations refusing to allow the firm's stores to use recycled wood, and mandating of animal testing, were challenging to the brand's global natural brand position. The case can be taught both in marketing classes concerned with green business and in strategy classes exploring the challenges faced by global brands.

Keywords: Australia; China; environmental strategies; Green Business; marketing; Entrepreneurship; Globalization; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; China; Australia; United States;

Citation:

Jones, Geoffrey, and Andrew Spadafora. "Jurlique: Globalizing Beauty from Nature and Science." Harvard Business School Case 314-087, March 2014.