"Nice hair," we both said, trying to make light of it. But inside, clearly we were both seething with rage and humiliation. So, is it better to just go for simple sobriety, black lace ups, brown neutral smokey eye and a little belted blazer? Yes, most times it probably is.
This is a beauty blog, preaching to a beauty addicted community, who probably have all the basic colours covered, yet still yearn for the next big trend, the next big thing, the limited, exclusive or otherwise original new product to be tried and tested. Why do we persist?? This is my latest lemming:
It's the 'cool eyes' quad. And it's a duty free exclusive. Is it too absurd to book a holiday so I can get a MAC quad which has Springtime Skipper, Flashtrack and Water Nymph in? All colours I missed and wish I hadn't... I mean, any excuse for a holiday, right?! I have lined up two people I know who are going abroad anyway, and hopefully at least one of them will get it for me, but if not, I will definitely take matters into my own hands!! I need it!!
So, why do all beauty companies (though MAC is the greatest exponent of this technique) insist on bringing out these limited collections, seasonal collections, country exclusive collections, travel editions... why place all these unnatural barriers on your consumer? Yes, clearly it's to appeal to the same two box ticked boxes that I'd looked for in my shoe purchase, roughly: 'stylish/original' and 'practical/ease of use.' How else to achieve this than by limiting its availability, and assembling shades neatly and easily categorized. It works. And for addicts, it's no use debating the 'dupes' either - they're not exclusive, are they?
This extends even further when it comes to niche products. I once tried a sample of the famously expensive Creme de la mer and I was comforted to find that I hated it. I was grateful to be reminded of this in an article I once read, and can agree that it did cause spots. Yet make something shiny enough, or scientific looking enough, and my hopes are raised again. That article in fact argues that we enjoy this runaround, subconsciously or consciously we allow ourselves to be lulled into the hype; perhaps somehow imagining that even a placebo effect can have its advantages. Articles like that however are all too rare, it's no secret that magazines depend on major companies to fund their publications through advertising revenue, and are understandably reluctant to antagonise their sponsors.
Independent avenues like YouTube and blogs can run the risk of being swayed but are clearly less vulnerable. Whatstyleistonikel on Youtube went as fas as saying this sponsorship trend would sound the death knell for the YouTube makeup community, yet his own previous (very reliable and useful) review belied any real threat that this might truly be the case. Nevertheless companies are wise to realise that herein lies a passive, willing, consumer to be tapped.
Before YouTube, aside from the fact that my makeup collection generally has exploded, I had little notion of expert blending brushes, and no notion of eye bases, mixing medium or depotting. Pixiwoo, although also a prime target for sponsorship, has made a point of refusing YouTube partnership to enforce an independent image, and never uses an eyeshadow base as she has said this is pure marketing. Although I would respectfully disagree in the sense that new products can sometimes indeed signal new scientific progress, and none more so than the marvel that is UDPP, her point in general does hold true.
Although magazine articles arguably remain the best way to promote high-end beauty products, consumers now have the opportunity to go to independent sources to see the actual product being daubed; to hear a fellow makeup enthusiast assess its virtues in uncompromising terms.
TV adverts are still flooded by the major brands' drugstore products, afterall these are the easiest to shift in bulk and one imagines make up their biggest revenue, being as they are designed as impulsive purchases. But it seems niche markets with a higher price point, must seek out a more exclusive audience, ripe for convincing.
In terms of appealing to the customer on the shop floor, MAC have positioned themselves as a trend-driven, young brand. Their no-nonsense packaging reflects both the professional theme, and the rebuke towards all those austere "old lady" gold detailing so ubiquitous in Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubenstein et al. Yet even MAC have now decided a "line filler" must become part of their permanent line-up, to appease their dedicated following, who by now struggle to deal with the onslaught of fine lines, and might otherwise consider whether now they too should embrace the more senior beauty ranges.
Clinique similarly taps into the young emergent market by having its very practical sounding 3 step program, and including acne remedies. But its emphasis is on the white coat and plain clinical (even in name) designs, so it avoids being tainted as surely as MAC in its demographic. MAC has deliberately cultivated close ties with fashion, particularly with young new designers, who are obviously delighted to be supported by a major brand.
The MAC promo images too are usually identified by their novel design. This is in stark contrast to simpler promo images aimed at the more senior makeup consumer. Spot the difference:
Top:EL; Bottom, MAC.
And how easy is it to change one's perceived brand image? I suspect it will be easier for MAC to move in line with their established customer base, than it would for a company like EL, HR or EA to convince a younger generation to shake off the image of a frail granny hand carefully twisting up her golden lipstick case.
... How do you make your beauty choices? And what does your chosen brand say about you? Does it matter to you to whether something is exclusive?