About 6 months before Mary Kay's scheduled announcement, Pink Truth announced that Mary Kay Cosmetics was planning on changing its entire line of color cosmetics. That would include compacts, lipsticks, cheek colors, eye colors, foundations… the whole works with a phase-in over twelve months.
Mary Kay wasn’t ready for that information to be published when Pink Truth leaked it. After 45 years in business, Mary Kay Inc. is a well-oiled machine. They know exactly how and when to announce new products and product changes in order to get the highest level of orders out of consultants. They have to balance off selling old inventory with directors maintaining products and preparing to sell the new products.
The company’s plan was to announce the product changes at Seminar in 2007. Announce too early, and consultants stop ordering the silver products and Mary Kay is stuck with inventory they can’t sell. Announce later, and the consultants are stuck with the outdated inventory that they just ordered and isn’t shown in the customers’ catalogs.
Mary Kay did the best they could with the early announcement of the product change. They knew they couldn’t deny the news, otherwise they’d soon be proven to be liars. Yet they didn’t want to admit the truth either, because that would throw their whole schedule into turmoil and consultants would likely reduce their orders.
So they did what they knew best… They dodged the question. Initially they told consultants and directors not to worry.
- Mary Kay has your best interests at heart.
- We’ll announce any product changes in plenty of time for you to balance your inventory.
- Beware of listening to unreliable third parties.
But none of this bobbing and weaving would satisfy some consultants, and Mary Kay Inc. was quickly forced to admit the truth: Yes, the products are all changing but we’ll give you the details when we think you need to know them.
So now the change has begun. The lipsticks are out, and the eyeshadows and blushes are next on the list. And Mary Kay consultants and directors are finding themselves in an impossible position.
They can’t exactly sell a current silver compact to a customer without mentioning the changes that are coming. It would be dishonest, and when the customer gets a new catalog, she’ll feel deceived over the old compact.
Yet if the consultant is honest about this, the customer will likely not buy the compact filled with products. Who wants the soon-to-be outdated product? Especially when you can’t even refill it with the new colors once they’re out!
Things were different when the compacts went from pink to silver. At least all the pink pans still fit in the compacts and consultants could easily sell the old stuff. Now they’re stuck with the old stuff. Few customers will be happy to have the old stuff when they could wait and get the new stuff.
You think the new products are going to be cool? I think they might be nice, but it pains me that so many consultants are going to be left with outdated junk on their shelves.
But that’s the genius of the marketing plan at Mary Kay. Leave the consultants holding the bag. Who cares if they have old products on their shelf? That's not Mary Kay's problem. And the consultants will have to order the new stuff from the company regardless. It’s good to be a corporate suit.