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The Changing Face of Beauty Distribution

By: Ada Polla
Posted: February 29, 2012, from the March 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

Thirty years ago, if you wanted to launch a high-end beauty brand, you would create your product and call on the top department stores—likely Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus—to exclusively launch the products. Today, the beauty distribution landscape is amazingly more complex and the launch strategies much more blended. Indeed, in a 2010 issue of WWD Beauty Biz, Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW, was quoted as saying, “Distribution no longer defines a product’s value or status.”

HSN general manager, beauty and merchandising strategy, Betsy Olum admits today’s retail world “is like the wild, wild West.” The only constant in beauty distribution is change and cross-channel shopping. Indeed, Frédéric Fekkai himself was reported as saying, when discussing his brand’s move to mass channels after its acquisition by Procter & Gamble, “I love to go to Target, and Whole Foods, and Hermès.”

In both September 2010 and June 2011, I moderated panels on the shifting face of beauty distribution for the HBA Global Expo, discovering insights into the inner workings of these various beauty retailing avenues. I also have started working on putting that panel together for HBA 2012, informed by the content of the previous panels, as well as current beauty industry and consumer trends, uncovering pertinent trends and numbers.

Beauty in Numbers

Karen Doskow, industry manager, consumer products, Kline & Company, set the stage for the 2011 panel by sharing some industry statistics. Highlights included:

Channel Tension, Niche Developments

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