Written by The Artist
In my 3 years as a Director with Mary Kay, I did more corporate sales and I rarely held skin care classes. I wanted to work during the day while my child was in school – not while she was at home with a babysitter. So I was continuously in front of hundreds of women at various businesses and government agencies.
Here’s what I saw out there. there are products that move and those that don’t. Based on my experience, here’s what I would recommend to anyone starting the business, other than RUN!!
The Product Line in General
In general, customers are angry at the constant changes that MK introduces. As soon as they like something – it’s gone. They expect changes in the cosmetics industry, but MK is notorious for changing their lines constantly and it frustrates the consumer.
If I had it to do all over, I would stock a very limited amount of popular products and samples at a maximum of $200 wholesale per quarter, and I would have ordered everything else by request after payment from the customer. (Or I would have bought from TOP – it’s cheaper and easier too!!)
The New MK Mineral Color Line
Customers are really angry about the new Mary Kay color line change and they hardly buy the old or the new color that much anymore. Women have actually yelled at me because MK is changing the whole color line – they are mad at me!!
They are angry that they invested in compacts and palettes that are now obsolete and they don’t want to purchase ‘old’ colors that may expire soon. They want very little at all to do with the new compact – they don’t care that it’s mineral – mineral shmineral is their attitude as far as I can see. Plus the compact becomes a mineral rainbow mess with powder everywhere including on the lipstick.
Many people are also afraid of the Talc-based formula. I like the softness of it – but my eyes don’t – they break out in welts when I wear it, as do many others who have reported reactions to the new MK Mineral Makeup.
As a result of the above issues, I have lost most of my color sales.
In this case I would recommend that MK give their customers a choice. Some really liked the old color formula and compacts. Some may eventually go for the mineral line. I think they made a mistake throwing out the baby with the bathwater here.
If I were starting today, I would stock a very limited amount of color, if any. It might be best to just stock a few samples and let customer order what they like. It only takes 2-3 days to order and ship from MK. That’s really good considering a number of online cosmetics companies take 2 weeks.
Other Color Notes
Many customers are still looking for the old old lip-gloss colors that they loved and that were never replaced…they loved Pink Pout, and Berry Smoothie. Why does MK do this to us – as soon as people like something, it’s gone.
Also, if they are introducing the entire country of India with 14 lipsticks, why do we need stock 32 in the US and if 5 lip-glosses are enough for India, why do we need to stock 10? Do we just need more inventory for some reason?
Customers liked the old retractable pencils that were longer, which made them perceive that they were getting more for their money. Unfortunately some were defective, but there’s always the product replacement program.
There are way too many eye and lip color pencils currently. The ones that sell most for me are Black, the old color Indigo, and the old color Sage. There are currently 12 Lip Liner Pencils…I can’t even begin to wrap my arms around that!
One thing that MK got right was to discontinue the nail polish colors. While the quality was good the colors were awful and the current trend is a very natural looking nail, or a French Manicure. Natural polishes can be purchased anywhere.
There are so many choices right now; it’s almost impossible to keep a Foundation Inventory without going broke. MK offers: Medium Coverage, Full Coverage, Tinted Moisturizer, Crème to Powder, Loose Mineral Powder and Pressed Mineral Powder. That’s 6 different types of foundation – how confused can we make our customers?
Currently MK has discontinued the pressed powder and loose powder and replaced it with the new Mineral Powder Foundations. Unfortunately, the colors of the pressed powder have changed from numbers like Ivory 200 and Bronze 600, to Ivory 2 and Bronze 2. The current Bronze 2 is way too light for an African American woman who wears a Medium Coverage Bronze 607 and above and makes her look ashy. So, women who have darker skin do not currently have a powder choice with MK and they are REALLY ANGRY and upset!! I wonder how the African Directors are handling this snafu?
I’ve found that most women wear medium coverage foundation, or pressed powder. Everyone wants to see and try the Mineral Powder because they’ve heard of Bare Minerals, but they don’t seem to really stick with it in most cases. Many customers don’t like the coverage.
MK must simplify the number of foundations that they carry. If I were stocking an inventory today, I’d stick with the medium coverage that’s in my starter kit and order any other foundations for a customer by request after I received their money.
Customers miss the old spa line. The new spa line is a bust and I, along with many others, have lost all of my spa sales due to the change. When customers see some of the old spa line for sale…. they grab it. But beware – the old Embrace Dreams Pink Spa Spray loses it’s fragrance over time, so it will smell like alcohol spray now.
The new Spa line smells bad. One smells like Pledge Furniture Cleaner and the other smells like the kind of fruit you don’t like to smell because it doesn’t smell nice. There are many more lovely botanical fragrances that they could have chosen.
People buy Satin Hands just once in a while. They say they love it, but they seem to like Bath and Body Works’ scented hand lotions much more. Plus they don’t seem to want to go to so much trouble or expense for their hands. I personally don’t like the plastic bag that it is presented in – it feels too medical to me – I need something cuter.
I personally love the new Hydrating Lotion and Body Wash and Shave. The Hydrating Lotion sells faster than the Body Wash and Shave and it sells better in the winter. I have not had one customer ask about the Mother’s Day Gift Package although I thought it was ok. They just weren’t that into it.
The Mary Kay Suncare Collection is excellent, but it doesn’t move that easily, and they are seldom reordered. People seem to want to use the grocery store brands and they currently love the spray on Sunscreens.
I’ve also had a number of requests for MK Shampoo and MK Vitamins.
The old spa line was great. There are also a number of discontinued products that customers loved. MK, if it ain’t broke – please stop trying to fix it.
Affection was a bust – many smell it but most don’t like it. High Intensity was also a bust – most men do not like the smell of it. Bella Belara has been well received, but doesn’t sell that well at the price point. It sells occasionally at a discount. Women like the lotion more than the fragrance. Belara is still popular and I find people looking for the Belara Body Lotion all the time. Women really like a scented body lotion to layer their fragrance, especially since we currently do not have a good spa line to sell.
The fragrance wands were VERY hard to move at the $22 price point.
I get many many requests for a discontinued fragrance called Gengi. Women loved it. It reminds me a little bit of the old Giorgio. I’ve also had a number of requests for the discontinued Quattro Cologne.
Some people love the MK fragrances and some strongly dislike them. Get a few samples and let your customers try it and give you some feedback. You can order it for them by request.
Customers still LOVE the skin care – both the Classic Line, and Timewise. The Cleanser moves faster than the moisturizer, but some customers use their own scrub and just use our moisturizer. A select few stick with the Day and Night solution, but most women do not use it religiously.
I am wondering about the future of the MK Skin Care Line in the US. After seeing the MK Botanical Customized Skin Care Line and the MK PureWhite System being presented in other countries, I wonder when these products will be introduced in the US. I also wonder how this will affect the current skin care offerings in the US.
I also know that there is an issue with Parabens, a group of chemicals used as a preservative that may cause cancer, being an illegal ingredient in some countries, but not in the US. I wonder if we will eventually require a Paraben-free skin care line?
Many women like the eye creams – but I steer them away from the ‘rotten egg’ smelling new eye cream.
Women love the Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover and the SPF 15 Moisturizer – they actually do fly off my shelves along with the Timewise Cleansers.
Many women also like the Acne Treatment Gel and Blemish Control Toner.
There has been some movement toward the Mary Kay Skin Care Line due to the economy. Some women, who may have used a pricier brand like Lancôme, may now consider Mary Kay in order to save a few pennies. (Down NSD vultures…doesn’t mean they want to sign up!)
Skin Care is the true bread and butter of the MK business. If you are thinking of buying inventory, have a few get togethers with your buddies who will tell you the truth, and see how they like what’s in the starter kit. If they seem to want more – perhaps stock a little bit of skin care – cleansers, moisturizers, eye makeup removers, and eye creams for $200 to get active. That’s really all you might need, and it can probably be ordered by request as MK ships very quickly.
General Sales Note
There are true MK junkies out there and if you make it convenient to them by bringing it to their workplace at lunch, if you don’t hassle them at all about recruiting/meetings/events, and if you offer them some good discounts, they will buy regularly. I am surprised that my customers haven’t all found TOP, or MK on Ebay yet, but when I’m done selling what I have, I’ll tell them all ‘my little secret.’
But unfortunately, you won’t make much money unless you are a recruiting/star inventory selling machine, so all of the above is really moot.
MK is in the business of building pyramids by using cosmetic sales as a front. They could care less about the product – that’s the sad part.
The products are like shills to lure you into their webs, so they can begin to brainwash you about a perfect Nirvana you can possibly aspire to, if you do what they say, so who wouldn’t want to at least try.
But buyer beware, they are the masters of bait and switch and before you know it you’ll be deeply in debt, alienating your friends and family, spiritually confused and suffering from some form of ill health from stress.
Do yourself a favor and stay far far away from Mary Kay!!