Ha! I do like Lancôme. They do nice cosmetics. Nice metallic shades. And defo a step up from No. 7 when it comes to quality and finish and pretty much everything else.
On the other hand, browsing through their counter last week, I was more than slightly miffed to discover that their eye shadow palettes come in pre-set fours. That is: you buy a palette, and the shades you get are four shades chosen by Lancôme.
Now I have a problem with that. Take the palette I am using right now. Its got a pink that I use for smokey effect around the eye socket. And there’s a purple that, at a pinch, I’ll use on eyelid (re-inforced with a metallic purple from Urban decay): but given what I wear most of the time, I really want plum. Which is what I used to call purple, before I knew any better.
That leaves a slightly off-white that I can’t see myself using much…and a silver, that I like, but doesn’t fit most of the time with the rest.
No. 7 do similar: pre-set palettes with three colours, which provide a better mix but, because I use up colours at variable speeds, quickly run out of one colour, meaning I have to replace the whole palette when all I need to replace is one bit of it.
You can see where this is going. Next to bigger stuff like trans rights, discrimination against marginalised groups and man’s inhumanity to man, I guess cosmetic waste isn’t quite such a big thing. Or maybe it is.
One thing that I have been struck by over the last year is just how much of some very expensive products go to waste. The bottom of perfume bottles: the second and third colours in colour palettes. What seems, at times, to be about a third of all nail polish.
That is seriously wasteful and, from writing some quite serious reports about corporate social responsibility and waste, it is exactly the sort of thing that needs to be addressed – and an area where the cosmetics industry lags very behind other industries.
Sweet manufacturers, f’rinstance, save significant amounts of energy just by cutting back on the packaging of their easter egs. Supermarkets are very concerned when it comes to the amount of material that goes into packaging, and are also looking at techniques techniques for cutting down on waste. It is, as they say, an interplay, because if you cut down on packaging too much, you tend to increase waste.
And make-up is expensive. A single unused colour in a palette is approximately £10 of wasted purchase. Just imagine a food retailer selling jars of caviar and expecting customers to just accept that the last 20% couldn’t be dug out! There’d be a (very posh) riot!
Which is why I was both impressed – and seduced – by the Mac counter in Debenhams yesterday. And not just because of the slightly cheesy “Wonder Woman” campaign Mac is currently running online!
Mac is, of course, even pricier than Lancôme. But it does feel good. A full four-colour palette is likely to set you back about £50, but…here’s the pitch: you buy the palette holder… a sleek, black branded creation, with four empty stations in it. Then you buy your palette colours one at a time.
So I bought myself a holder and a plum colour – and nothing else. Later, I’m sure, I’ll add to that, a colour at a time. And as I use up colours or change seasons, I’ll move new ones in or out.
Its pricier stuff – but probably cheaper in the long run than Lancôme: possibly, bizarrely, cheaper even than No. 7.
And its absolutely brilliant marketing. I get to flash a sleek Mac branded palette around the place – and actually spend less on the product than if I’d switched to a cheaper brand.
Talk about building customer loyalty!