Goop Inc.: Aspirational Brand or Snake Oil?

Goop Inc.: Aspirational Brand or Snake Oil?

  • Case
  • Teaching Notes

The case explains how actor Gwyneth Paltrow, CEO and founder of Goop Inc, positioned the brand to attract affluent shoppers. She described positioning Goop as an aspirational brand when choosing her approach to marketing and selling the pricy products. The company has been growing since 2016. It sells wellness and beauty and lifestyle products, including skincare serums, designer apparels, etc. Goop products are often controversial as the brand has relied on pseudoscience-based claims about the benefits of the products. Advertising and regulatory authorities have criticized Goop for deceptive and false claims. Critics also questioned the ethics of making personal care products accessible only to affluent shoppers and not to mass consumers. Despite these controversies, Paltrow was able to expand the business in North America and Europe. Experts believed Goop grew primarily because of the “placebo effect” of using the products. By November 2019, as Goop expanded its line of products, Paltrow was experiencing challenges in managing ethical dilemmas related to health, wellness, and cosmetic products. For instance, should she focus on maximizing profits for her own company, an approach opposed by some as being individualist, or should she try to maximize benefit for consumers, an approach that falls withing utilitarian ethical theory. Should Paltrow reconsider positioning Goop as an aspirational brand affordable by only the affluent shoppers? Was she ethical in making unproven claims about her products?

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