Bessie Byrne investigates what this means to Australian Consumers
Monday, 12 August 2013
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has received public confirmation from Revlon that it does test on animals. The confession is a crucial part of PETA’s campaign to urge Revlon to stop selling its products in China, where animal testing is compulsory.
Revlon has been endorsed by PETA as a ‘cruelty-free’ company, since 1990 when it became the first large cosmetics company to declare that it would not engage in animal testing. Revlon continues to state that it “has long been an industry leader in the elimination of animal testing”.
When asked weather the company was undertaking animal tests representatives responded with vague statements such as “Revlon is in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations related to animal testing.”
After PETA received confirmation, by a Revlon supplier that they were paying for tests on animals in China, the organisation purchased just enough Revlon shares to allow attendance at annual meetings, in an endeavour to get Revlon to admit publicly to testing on animals.
At the annual shareholders meeting in New Jersey, PETA confronted the company about hiding the fact it tests on animals and asked the company to end its sales in China. Revlon’s CEO Alan Ennis finally admitted that Revlon does sell in countries that require tests on animals, and the company complies with those regulations. He essentially admitted that Revlon’s commitment to profits outweighs its commitment to consumers who are demanding ‘cruelty-free’ products. The company also said it will continue to do business in countries where animal testing is practiced.
DOES IT MATTER?
Animal testing is a process where rabbits, mice, monkeys, cats, dogs and other animals are burned, blinded and poisoned. The practice of animal testing is banned in the European Union, India, Israel and is strictly monitored in many other countries.
Stephanie Henkel, from Global Animal believes that Revlon is deceiving its customers. “What these animals endure is equivalent to a real life horror movie. Many consumers do not wish to purchase a lipstick or a perfume that was created by torture inflicted upon a helpless animal.”
A Google image search for ‘Animal Testing’ brings up photos too horrific to share. Photo Credit: PeTA
Animal rights organisations argue that animal testing is an out dated practice that is no longer necessary to ensure the safety of cosmetics. New technologies mean that alternative methods, such as using human cells, are readily available and equally effective and there is no reason in this modern world that animals need to be tortured for the sake of beauty products.
DO CONSUMERS CARE?
I spoke to customers at the Revlon counter, in the Cosmetics department of Myer on Bourke Street, Melbourne. All three of the Revlon clients I spoke to who were in the process of being ‘made-over’ with Revlon products, had no idea whether the company tested on animals. The women stated that “good product quality”, recommendations from family and a “large product range” were what they looked for in cosmetics companies. When asked if they would buy products that were tested on animals all three women said probably not. When I explained to them PETA’s current campaign, two of the three people I spoke to showed very little concern about the issue and the third woman gave me the impression she would rather not know, stating that “If I was [buying the products] in China it might be different but Revlon here seems good”. When I asked the women if they still intended to buy Revlon products, one woman said “yes”, one said, “I always buy Revlon products, but I’ll find out more about it”. The third woman said, “I think Revlon is different here, Australia has good regulations”.
If this small sample is a representative cross-section of Australian cosmetics consumers it would appear that an organisations use of animal testing has little influence on shoppers when they’re deciding where to buy cosmetics. However, in reality the three women who I interviewed are a specific population of Revlon consumers, who were in an uncomfortable social situation and most likely wanted to continue to ignore the issue and were more interested in saving face.
All three women asked not to be named.
For more information on Animal testing go to the PETA website.