You may have missed the news that beauty giant Proctor & Gamble
have recently agreed to sell off 43 of their iconic brands (including
MaxFactor, Wella, Clairol and Covergirl) in a move designed to help them
focus on their core business and streamline their operations.
Apparently Pantene and Olay need a little more love in 2015 and beyond,
so it’s like sending your older children off to Uni to do it alone while
you take care of the time-demanding toddlers. You may not also be aware
that Bourjois, the elegant and quirky Parisienne makeup brand loved by
bloggers, has also been sold by Chanel to the highest bidder. Coty (who currently own brands
including Rimmel, NYC, Philosophy, OPI, Sally Hansen and some of your
favourite fragrances) have managed to pick up the bulk of these brands
to expand their ever more powerful presence in the beauty market, but
some of our favourite skincare brands have been snapped up by other
corporations too. Ren and Murad have been bought by Unilever, while Liz
Earle, Dermalogica and Kate Somerville have also been sold (among many others.) Although
this has been common practice for decades, the latest moves involve huge
brands and have therefore been more high profile than normal – you
probably will never have noticed the chopping and changing that’s
happened so often historically. But the important question on everyone’s
lips is: how will this impact me, the products I love and my regime?
It’s important to clarify that these brands aren’t always sold off because they’re failing to capture a corner of the market or turn a profit; although the majority of P&G brands sold off haven’t experienced growth in some time, many of the skincare brands are actually acquired because they’re doing well. It’s often a case that a brand simply outgrows their operations and needs a bigger name to support them – both logistically and financially. It may also be due to the brand owner wanting to take a step back and focus on other areas of their life (Jo Malone famously sold off her fragrance portfolio to Estee Lauder, before starting from scratch when she realised she missed it!) The reasons are multiple, but in a purely self-indulgent manner this is how the sale of your favourite brand could possibly effect us…
QUALITY & FORMULATION
Probably the biggest concern of all amongst consumers is whether the movement will impact the quality of their favourite products. Of course the change in owner may also have an impact on the manufacturing process and supply chain, as these beauty giants try to benefit from existing contracts and economies of scale. Although it may take up to a couple of years to see any change, this is a very real possibility. So often I pop open an age-old fave and find it’s not quite the same as I remember, so prepare to discover some small changes that you may not be all that happy with. It could be the quality of the pack, the fragrance, texture or results that change ever so slightly – so if you’re really concerned it’s probably worth stocking up.
MARKETING & OFFERS
A different marketing team means different priorities, which inevitably has an impact on how these brands will appear in store and on your telly. You may be used to seeing your favourite hair dye constantly on offer, or love the fact there’s always a gift to benefit from at Christmas – but these could well start to phase out. The look and feel of advertising and in-store promotions could evolve, while that famous face may simply not have their contract renewed. It’s an opportunity to shake things up a bit and refresh the brand in the eyes of consumers new and old.
PRICE POINT & VALUE
Someone has to pay for these recent acquisitions – and it may well be you. We may start to see prices gradually increase, or the size of the product decrease to keep the cost of sales at an ‘acceptable’ internal level. We all heard about the Cadbury’s Creme Egg scandal earlier on in the year, reducing in size and quality because of a new supplier, and the sale of a brand could have a similar impact on your favourite face cream. Although one would hope these big conglomerates want to keep consumers on-side by delivering what they know and love, you can never tell the impact over the coming years… Just keep an eye on those prices and quantities!
PR & RELATIONSHIPS
This has already been discussed at length amongst the blogging community, as many of the PRs responsible for building relationships with influencers and keeping us in the loop with news will find themselves being made redundant. Agencies will inevitably lose contracts over time, PR departments in these huge companies will probably find themselves even more stretched and we’ll have to start again with brands we’ve come to love. However, for those brands that have been somewhat under-the-radar or struggling to make an impact, it could be the fresh start they need. The great thing about these huge brands is that they’re a well-oiled machine that tend to know what they’re doing – I just hope some of my favourite brands don’t get lost amongst a huge and ever-expanding portfolio.
MONOPOLIES & INFLUENCE
Not necessarily an issue that will effect consumers directly in the short-term, but my concern is that these huge brands will get even bigger and have an scarily enormous influence over the industry. From commercial relationships with Boots and Superdrug, to media relationships with the magazines they’re buying up in the pages of, it means that smaller brands will have even less of an impact and opportunity in the long-term. We’re already hearing that magazines are tied into advertising contracts and not allowed to feature brands that are direct competitors, so where will this end? I’m one for fair competition and freedom for movement in the market place, so it’s going to be interesting to see how this develops…
Are you concerned about the sale of any of your favourite brands?
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