The Jennifer Greying of a Product

Putting together a regular roster of beauty products can be more challenging than assembling a Fantasy Football team. There are so many products to try and too many that fail ~ not to mention a budget to watch.

But every once in a while, you get lucky: You find something wonderful that delivers on its promise. You use it and use it until you reach the bottom of the jar or tube or bottle or pan. And then you set out to replenish your supply.

Cosmetic companies don’t always make it easy to be loyal, though. The desire to keep the product out in front of the consumer necessitates a constant flux of “new and improved” formulas, an ever-changing array of color and shade options, multiple format and applicator choices ~ and a barrage of special marketing go-withs and try-me offers.

While genuine upgrades are welcome (and a certain amount of tweaking is expected), excessive and extraneous refinement leads to frequent product repackaging ~ which often leaves the return customer completely lost.

When a product has been repackaged so many times that it’s unrecognizable, the manufacturer does itself and the consumer a great disservice. Because a frantic search on the cosmetics aisle isn’t exactly good for business. More often than not, it results in a big fat NO SALE, branding confusion and lingering resentment.

I wonder how many products have fallen as a result of this overzealous approach?

When you consider the most enduring and successful makeup and cosmetic items, they all have one thing in common: They haven’t been overly revamped. In fact, popular products have kept the same name and retained the same look for decades.

Take, for instance, Maybelline’s Great Lash Mascara. The traditional bright pink and green tube debuted in 1971 and quickly became a staple in women’s makeup bags everywhere. Forty years later, the tube is still pink and green; the ingredients are very much the same; and it’s the number one best-selling mascara globally.

Coty Airspun Powder has also maintained its look throughout the years. Introduced in 1935, it’s biggest appeal was the powder-puff-included packaging. Though they’re no longer standard, cottony puffs still decorate the popular orange (scented) and blue (fragrance free) containers.

Are these products stellar? Maybe. Maybe not. The real appeal is that they are always reliable, readily available and easily identifiable.

Consistent packaging and dependable formulations are especially crucial for branded products traditionally marketed through representatives or franchised salons ~ brands like Avon, Mary Kay, Merle Norman.

Products and parcels remain the same for one simple reason: These companies want to make it easy for you to find them and your favorite items. That’s precisely why, after decades and decades, they are still doing a brisk business.

While change is inevitable, morphing an already-successful product can be risky. The “New Coke” marketing failure of 1985 comes to mind. Of course, in that case, the product itself changed. Alter only the outer wrapping and the result can be just as disastrous:  Look what happened to Jennifer Grey’s box-office career.

Somebody put Baby in a corner….  And I’m pretty sure it was Baby.


  1. Cat says

    Are these products stellar? Maybe. Maybe not. The real appeal is that they are always reliable, readily available and easily identifiable.

    There is definitely something to be said for being consistent. This reminds me of something my brother once said about McDonald’s when we were trying to decide where to stop for lunch on a family vacation: “Yes, McDonald’s is crap food, but it’s the same crap food in every McDonald’s no matter where you are. A Big Mac is a Big Mac. You know exactly what you’re going to get.”

    I do hate it when a product I love is suddenly “reformulated” and the reformulation ruins the product, or “repackaged” and the new packaging is harder to identify and/or less awesome than the original.

  2. Cosme, Cosme, Cosme, Cosme, Cosmetic Chameleon!

  3. Cheryll Dale says

    I was really upset when Revlon changed one of their lipsticks, years ago, never did find it again. It was a coral, and can’t remember the name of it now. I used that particular lipstick like it was going out of style, pun intended…guess it did….:-(
    I’ve used that coty powder for years, too. Love it.
    Interesting article. Thanks..

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