Luxe skin care brand Vbeauté released a provocative lip gloss ad (at left) a few weeks ago that invited women to “spread those sexy lips” and caused a mini-furor on the internet. But now the posh brand is doing something truly shocking: It’s moving down-market. This means Vbeauté is offering the exact same products that used to be at Bergdorf Goodman for, in some cases, less than two thirds of the original price. How is this even possible?
Julie Macklowe, who formerly worked in finance and is married to a real estate tycoon, launched Vbeauté back in 2011 after getting a bunch of her favorite beauty potions confiscated at the airport. That led to the development of a skin care line formulated at a fancy lab in Switzerlandand and the launch of the “It Kit,” a sleek little compact holding five different products which are all airline-approved size. (She sells full size versions of all the products, too.) When it launched, Macklowe got a gushy Vogue profile, and the line was picked up by Bergdorf Goodman, with the “It Kit” selling for $165 and individual full-size products for as much as $145. In other words, a lot of coin.
But Macklowe is now doing something that would horrify most other high end brands: She’s taking Vbeauté mass. The brand will be sold at Look Boutiques in Duane Reade and Walgreens stores in New York City, LA, and Miami. Yes, some cosmetics companies have high and low versions of their products (Napoleon Perdis, which is stocked at Neiman Marcus and Target, comes to mind) but Vbeauté is taking the exact same products and selling them for a lot less money. For example, the full size “Undercover Agent,” a serum, used to retail for $135; now it’s $45.
Welcome to the world of beauty marketing.
“We’re back to the heritage of the brand,” Macklowe said at a press event. “By being in Bergdorf, we weren’t able to price the line as low as we initially wanted to.” That’s because when you’re buying a product from a department store, you’re paying for the service. Yep, that girl who grabs the product out from behind the counter and wraps it in some tissue paper for you is driving up the cost of your skin care. See, the sales people are there on behalf of the brand to give you a gentle push and help you decide to buy that $60 eye cream. But by selling in a self-service environment, you can cut out a huge chunk of a product’s cost, which is what Vbeauté has done. The brand benefits too, because people buy more units. Instead of buying that one pricey piece, you can now buy the whole system–which usually equates to bigger sales overall. (This all sort of pisses me off that I’m such a dupe of the system. But I digress.)
If you don’t live in NYC, Miami, or LA you can get Vbeauté online. The somewhat goofy ad slogans and product names aside, the line is really well done. It’s all fragrance free, uses tons of new proprietary active ingredients, and is all great for sensitive skin, from which Macklowe suffers.
And now, it’s pretty affordable. Come on, La Prairie, you go next!