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The Lipstick Page Forums Beauty & Fashion Blog
Price vs. value

Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Tuesday, March 27, 2007 12:36 PM (Eastern)

A couple of recent incidents have made me reflect just beauty existence has become over the years.

Just as beauty boards may be blamed for many an impulse purchase, as well as many a "haul" (this is planned, but may include extraneous items, or else be an orgy of superfluousness...whatever), so they may be blamed for my next-to-obsessive strategic approach to buying, say, a bar of soap, or a bottle of shampoo.

Gone are the days when I would go to Target or Longs Drugs and simply choose the most interesting-looking product on the shelf. I don't think I've done that in years. I always consult my own experience (aka a "repurchase") or "the boards" first. If a product has been raved about enough on the boards...and by this, I mean it's been raved about by people I've heard of, like Edina Monsoon, or Lipstick Chick, or Rupa, or M...that might mean something. I'm not gonna list the people on my own board, since you need only go there (link at the top of this blog).

One of the incidents was, I was explaining to my son about the shampoos in the the Alba Hawaiian Plumeria shampoo was the fancy, expensive one (okay it's $9 for 12 oz.) that we use occasionally, because it's a great shampoo but costs too much to use all the time. The Queen Helene Mint Julep shampoo on the other hand, is $3+something for what amounts to nearly a gallon of shampoo--like a gallon of milk. The soap is the Bisous De Provence you get at Trader Joe's for about $3 (might have gone up some lately). This is a very hard milled soap, lasts a good long time, lathers nicely, not drying, smells terrific... My facial cleanser is that board gem, Johnson & Johnson Head to Toe Baby Wash.

We've got Jason Satin Shower Body Wash in there, Nature's Gate Herbal hair conditioner...outside I have Heather Loraine jojoba butter (which I reported on the board as a UEU, meaning I'd used it up, yet there remain little dibs and dabs of's lasting a month longer than I'd thought it would), Lab Series Age Rescue eye cream (damn good eye cream, tube lasts about a year), MAC Blot pressed powder, MAC Powerpoint eyepencils, Nars the Multiple in Malibu...

These are all, generally speaking, "expensive" items, save the Queen Helene shampoo and the J & J. They all cost more than comparable items. Why I buy them, is that they last a long time.

For example, I don't think I've owned a drugstore eyepencil that lasted more than a year. Two years would be a stretch. The pencils either turned rock hard, or else went crumbly. The Powerpoints I have, haven't changed much from when I bought them more than two years ago.

You could find cheaper soaps, but how long would they last? Would they dry your skin to the point that you needed to use lotion? (After having switched to Bisous De Provence, I didn't get itchy skin this winter.)

Continuity is also key...I've used the Lab Series eye cream since...just realized...2004. They did "reformulate" once (same cream, a dollar more), but that is far better than having to look for a new eye cream.

Conclusion: it is folly to base sales of beauty products on customer impulsiveness alone, in this era of the Internet. If consumers temporarily go mad and buy more makeup in a year or two than they'd bought their entire lives up to that point, so these same consumers evolve rapidly into much pickier buyers than ever before.

Picky buyers are like good lovers in that they are capable of intense, unshakable loyalty. If you treat them right, they'll remember you. They will buy your products again and again and again.

But if you treat them badly, with price spikes, frequently discontinued or limited edition products, and declining quality, don't be surprised if they go somewhere else.

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Colleen Shirazi continues to blog here: Life of Colleen
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