Revlon’s make-up break-up


Among Revlon’s many woes this week was the news that it was pulling the plug on its Vital Radiance line, targeted at women over...


Among Revlon’s many woes this week was the news that it was pulling the plug on its Vital Radiance line, targeted at women over 50.

The finger of blame has waggled in a few different directions, but has spent a fair share of time pointed at the “fat” senior marketing team, according to its new CEO, many of whom are now out of a job. Maybe the marketing was terrible, I don’t recall any, but to give the team the benefit of the doubt, trying to market to women over 50 – who don’t want to be reminded that they’re over 50 – can be a thankless task.

The death knell sounded when Vital Radiance failed to retain vital shelf space in the major cosmetic retail outlets (including Wal-Mart and CVS), and no amount of marketing – good or bad – could have secured the line’s fortunes if consumers couldn’t find it.

But what occurred to me is that this points to a fundamental difference in how cosmetics are sold in the US, compared to many other countries. Cosmetic brands here have to rely that much more on marketing and branding, as at the majority of retail outlets, the everyday brands are double-packaged, with no testers on display. Brands like Maybelline and L’Oreal have between them a combination of extremely high brand awareness and trust, constant and prolific marketing presence, and a low enough price point to allow most consumers to take the odd risk with a new color. But Vital Radiance’s price point was too high (with prices from $13.50 to $20) to be able to sit in that “try it and see” bracket, especially without a testing bank.

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