In the cosmetics industry, it is not uncommon to see similar products in different retail channels being sold at wildly different prices. It's extremely confusing for the consumer. Products with a bargain price point often make the same performance claims as luxury-priced products.
Time and again, I have said price does not indicate quality when it comes to shopping for cosmetics.
Recently, I was given a bottle of L'Oréal Professional Mythic Oil. This product reduces frizziness and creates a smooth, sleek hairstyle, with just enough shine to reflect light without causing a greasy effect.
Let me say, this product works incredibly well—I have been using it for two weeks and I am very impressed with the results.
So, imagine my surprise when I was walking through the grocery store this weekend and saw a huge display for a new L'Oréal Paris product called Precious Oil, making the exact same claims.
L'Oréal Professional and L'Oréal Paris are the exact same company. Seriously, the exact same company. The only difference is one (Professional) was established to serve the salon and spa retail market, and the other (Paris) was established to serve what is called the "consumer market." These two companies manufacture their products in the same facilities and often launch extremely similar products at the exact same time.
Here is the business reasoning—L'Oréal, being the largest cosmetics company in the world, needs to exploit as many distribution options as possible in order to maintain market dominance. It actually manufactures 46 different brands, available at various price points, in all retail channels (department stores, salons, spas, drug stores, grocery stores, and stand alone corporate stores). The company knows different consumers will shop at different channels and each channel has a maximum market bearing price Essentially, some consumers will pay a maximum of $X for a product, while others are willing to pay much more for the same type of product. If L'Oréal can hit every market with various price points while keeping the cost of production at the same level, their overall profit increases.
However, and this is the kicker, if a consumer shops at all the various channels (and many of us do), it is easy to find the same products, under the different brand names, for less money.
Mythic Oil and Precious Oil are a great example of this.
Mythic Oil vs. Precious Oil:
Mythic Oil 100mL for $26
Precious Oil 100mL for $11.50
I am not saying these are the exact same formula. What I am saying, is they are so similar that the differences are negligible from a consumer stance.
1. Active oils used for creating the sleek finish on hair—IDENTICAL
3. Fragrance Compounds—IDENTICAL
1. Conditioning Agents—INTERCHANGEABLE (the two formulas use different conditioners, but the hair can't tell the difference.)
2. Natural Moisturizing Factors—INTERCHANGEABLE (all non-fragrant plant oils work the same as moisturizing agents—the two formulas use different NMFs, but the hair can't tell the difference.)
3. Plant/Flower Extracts—INTERCHANGEABLE (fragrant plant oils actually don't do much of anything for the hair except leave a nice smell behind—that just comes down to personal preferences of the user.)
Never accept that a product sold in a salon is somehow superior in formulation than similar products sold in a grocery store. Just check the ingredients to verify that fact. Precious Oil is 47% less expensive than Mythic Oil for basically the exact same thing.
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