Beauty Business: Why Are My Favourite Brands Being Sold & How Will It Impact Me?

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…

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. 

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.

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!

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.

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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  1. TheGirl09
    July 20, 2015 / 11:55 am

    Wow, I had never heard of the news so I appreciate this postI really hope nothing changes, but there is no guarantee so we can now only hope it changes for the better! xAliya x |

  2. Pam Scalfi
    July 20, 2015 / 11:57 am

    oh dear, I never thought about it this way. There are products that have become part of my beauty regime and the possibility of quality change, monopoly power which in turn leads to higher price, is not a pretty sight. Hoping my favourites aren't affected!Pam xo/ Pam Scalfiā™„

  3. Ali
    July 20, 2015 / 12:13 pm

    Nothing exists in a vacuum, and with business increasingly fiercely competitive, I suppose its inevitable that some brands are going to change ownership. I like that you mention smaller brands who must find it difficult to compete. I'm gradually finding more of these and some of them are really very good, so I'm swapping. So my concern is that they disappear for any of the reasons you mention, but mostly because they simply can't afford the marketing and PR budgets of the big guns.

    • Hayley Carr
      July 29, 2015 / 8:46 am

      I think the only up side is now so much is driven by online and blogs that the small brands actually have a huge opportunity – if they capitalise on it effectively. Interestingly though, I've been hearing on the grapevine that some of these huge companies have been trying to buy some of the small brands for ages…

  4. Emmys Beauty Cave
    July 20, 2015 / 12:14 pm

    I didn't know about these brands being sold off, i hope the product quality stays the same or improves! xEmma | Emmys Beauty Cave

  5. Georgie Lowen
    July 20, 2015 / 12:49 pm

    FANTASTIC read. Love learning about what is happening behind the product. Love it.GeorgiexoxoTheLipstickDaily

  6. Mary Bloomy
    July 20, 2015 / 12:57 pm

    Its quite interesting to see how brands are sold and most of the time we're not aware of that. I sure will be more careful on the subject and definitely grab the products I love from the brands that have been sold! Is something to think about as a cosmetics lover! xxSara |

  7. Stephanie
    July 20, 2015 / 1:45 pm

    I work for a blue chip company so sales and acquisitions are all to plenty in our work! I hope this doesn't effect my favourite brands too much!Stephanie xxx

  8. Zoe Newlove
    July 20, 2015 / 1:58 pm

    I had no idea Liz Earle had been sold to Loreal? I swear they have the little bunny logo on their products, for no animal testing ? Yet the majority of Loreal owned brands do test on animals…. I hope they don't change their ethos as well! Great post lovely!Zoe Newlove Beauty Blogger & MUA

    • Hayley Carr
      July 29, 2015 / 8:47 am

      They own The Body Shop too – who have the leaping bunny symbol too. I guess it's due to different supply chains?

  9. Beauty Bloss
    July 21, 2015 / 2:29 am

    Thanks for this post, it was a really interesting read. I'd never really thought about this. The Beauty Bloss

  10. Maleka
    July 21, 2015 / 4:43 pm

    This is a great read as always. You've presented the potential downsides to the end customer while also recognising the possible rationale behind the sale. Having been on both sides and passionately grown corporate brands, I can honestly say, that as a small brand creator my focus on the customer needs/benefits/quality of formula is 10 fold beyond what I have ever experienced before. The intensity with which I feel every minute, every single detail, is consuming in a way I would not have dreamed possible. It is so very important to me, that you love the product and the joy I feel when I get a great review or customer comment is comparable to reaching the summit of Everest. That is the difference between buying corporate vs. small/private.

    • Hayley Carr
      July 29, 2015 / 8:48 am

      Thanks for your comment Maleka – there's a definite movement towards smaller brands that have been grown from passion, for this very reason.

  11. sampan_27
    July 28, 2015 / 3:24 pm

    When I saw that Liz Earle had been bought by Boots, I thought it would be brilliant! Finally we would get Liz Earle into Boots, and have a sneaky purchase with our Boots points. However, I do always consider the possibility of smaller products, which tends to be the case more so than the prices increases. Which is sad for us as consumers really, as we don't get much in the way of loyalty rewards from brands. I think it all will impact us, probably even by this Christmas. Hopefully more positive than negative, as the sell off could mean the products can reach a wider audience, but we shall see which way it all

    • Hayley Carr
      July 29, 2015 / 8:48 am

      You can buy Liz Earle online via Boots and in big stores already!

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