Facts, opinions, and the real story behind Mary Kay Cosmetics.

A Perspective on Changes to the Mary Kay Product Line

Written by Robin Peters

In my comments and forum postings on Pink Truth, I have observed that I consider it desirable for a cosmetics company to "tweak" its line of color cosmetics every season to reflect the changes in garment fashions. Color cosmetics which look great with fall fashions might not work at all with fashions designed to be worn the following spring, for example.

And to use another example, in Priscilla Presley's wedding pictures, you might notice that she looks as if she laid on her eye makeup with a trowel, a common makeup fashion when she was married in 1967. You don't see her wear nearly that much makeup nowadays; in fact, like many women, she looks as if she is wearing almost no makeup at all.

Although there were always women out there who did "tweak" their color cosmetics "look" to coordinate with the fashions of the day, this practice became widespread in the 1950s, when cosmetics companies became successful at pitching this concept to the common woman, using the then-newly popular medium of television. For one thing, the cosmetics companies realized that this practice helped profits, because they were selling two or three, maybe even more, lipsticks to the same woman. They also were aware that women put on makeup to help themselves feel beautiful, and that they would not feel beautiful if their makeup clashed with their clothing each season.

I have come across two articles which talk about the fashionable makeup looks available in 2008. This one talks about makeup trends for this winter. Another article mentions the anticipated trends for makeup fashions next spring (as of this writing). Both articles assume that companies such as Mary Kay will offer color cosmetics supporting these fashion trends on their shelves (be they virtual or real-life shelves).

One wonders how MK Corporate will react to articles such as these. In reading some of the postings on Pink Truth, I know most of you do not like the way MK Corporate handles changes in the shades of their color cosmetics.

Where MK is really misguided is when MK Corporate insists on changing the size of its compacts, perhaps even their shapes, so that old color cosmetics do not snap into the new compacts neatly and cleanly. You have to buy all new color to go with the all new compacts – hardly a wise use of one's money if one is a consumer. This spending is not justified by the changing seasons, but only by MK's need to increase the size of its profit margins.

But then, it was never about customer service. Good customer service means that if you want to make a profit, you have to sell the customer what she wants – and she definitely does not want to buy new compacts and completely new lines of color cosmetics solely at the whim of a cosmetic company.

She wants reasonably priced, quality cosmetics, sold in packaging unique to that company and consistent over time (no switching from one color container to another midstream, for no good reason). She wants color cosmetics that do not clash with the fashions she plans on buying this season, and that is the only thing which should change over time. Yes, the color cosmetics have had to change over time to reflect America's burgeoning Hispanic population, which requires somewhat darker shades, and those changes need to be made in addition to seasonally appropriate changes

As Pink Truth has consistently shown over the years, Mary Kay Cosmetics is completely out of touch with the average consumer. When they tweak their color cosmetics, it has little or nothing to do with changing garment fashions, as I stated earlier.

Based on what I've seen on this site, I am not optimistic about MK's ability to change its stripes. It's making a profit right now just focusing on selling to beauty consultants; they can afford to ignore the real end consumer precisely because they've got a good thing going already. It's just that I wish they'd learn, finally, that the home-party business model is no longer feasible, in this day and age, with so many women having their time eaten up by the nine-to-five daily grind.