Monday, March 8, 2010

Beauty Reflection: Showing Prices at the Makeup Counter?

The cosmetics counter is unlike any other department when it comes to pricing practices. For example, in shoes or housewares there is always a price tag attached to the item you want to purchase. But if you want to purchase a lipstick, you won't know its real price until you:

a) Ask the makeup artist or associate
b) See the subtotal on the register
c) Get the receipt

Is this common practice right, wrong, or do you even care?

Personally, I really haven't given it much thought. I've been buying cosmetics at the department stores for years. If I'm watching my pennies, I'll do my research online before I arrive at the counter, or I'll simply ask for the price before I purchase. However, I'm a very direct person and I don't get easily intimidated by asking questions. But for others, this may be a stumbling block to purchasing. How is this common practice hurting the cosmetic industry's bottom line?

Estée Lauder Cos. CEO Fabrizio Freda is experimenting by posting prices at some of its cosmetic counters. According to an article in today's Wall Street Journal, this is just one of the ways the company is giving itself a "makeover" to better meet customer needs. The article goes on to describe how Bloomingdale's new Clinique counter in New York now offers several different options to drive more traffic to cosmetics. You can have full service from a consultant, analysis from a computer, or browse on your own. And a corner called Clinique Express provides product replenishment. Apparently, the makeover is working. The counter is doing well.

What do you think? Will these new options better serve your needs at the cosmetics counter? Drop me a line in the comments box. I'd love to get your opinion!

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