There’s a Brand New Talk

Fashion. No matter what changes with and within beauty—the technologies in products, the strategies to sell products and the proclivities of those who buy the products—fashion remains a key influencer. Especially in color cosmetics. And, in fact, fashion along with functionality are the key drivers of the $1 billion weekly global spend on color cosmetics, according to Euromonitor International’s Rob Walker.

Further, color cosmetics are being added to the portfolios of fashion labels. “Fashion brands are still quite low profile in terms of the overall value of the market, but they are growing fast. They also have oodles of creativity at the front line of selling,” Walker writes in The F-Word of Color Cosmetics: Functionality. It makes sense, as Walker notes that the shade of a lip gloss is as important as the cut of a hemline for many women and that “nail products, in particular, have become popular fashion accessories in their own right—a trend that’s clear in global sales data.” In her review of spring/summer 2015 color trends, Roseanna Roberts notes both the color trends to watch and how they’re being used in makeup looks—as well as what fashion houses are using them on the runway.

From Runway to Runaway Train...

On January 7, we received a press release announcing a class action lawsuit that claims two California-based brands “falsely sell, label and/or represent certain cosmetic products as organic.” The unnamed plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim these products “violate California’s Organic Products Act, which requires that cosmetic products advertised, marketed, sold, labeled, or represented as organic in California be made of at least 70 percent organic ingredients... [and] the packaging and advertising for these products mislead consumers to believe that the products were wholly or at least mostly organic, when, in fact, they were not.”

Class members include those who purchased one of the brand’s products between May 11, 2007 and January 6, 2015 and those who bought the second brand’s products between May 11, 2007 and January 31, 2011.

My first inclination was to simply report this as an “FYI. Watch how you label/make claims” note, but I cannot help but editorialize here. With the nature of the suit, the date range and scope of potential class members, the location, and other factors—including the PR statement that “The Court has not decided whether [X] did anything wrong and the two sides have not settled the case—this certainly appears to be a move made by unidentified brand owners to derail other brand owners. I don’t believe this is about consumer protection, I think there could be a healthy debate about whether or not consumers were harmed (there’s far more egregious marketing/labeling practices across industries), and I’d ask for data that showed that consumers were/were not aware of what they were buying. And if there’s a problem, I’m thinking it’s likely rooted in and extends from the California act that allows an organic label when 30% of the product isn’t organic. That, right or wrong, rings false to me...

No. This is a suit brought to further a business agenda—brought to undermine competition (it names two specific brands, a narrow net that intentionally detours around larger issues)—and in doing so, hurts the industry and business as a whole without solving any crucial problems.

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