Brand Exclusivity…

Posted by Lipglossiping On October - 8 - 2009

I was reading an article over at Marketing Magazine about Dermalogica being rather upset with Boots for stocking their products without permission…

Dermalogica claims that by doing so, Boots could “damage the brand”.  They don’t elaborate exactly how this damage would manifest itself, but with the word “exclusive” written in the same paragraph… it really doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.

Boots are “high street”, Dermalogica are “high end”.  And never the twain shall meet.

Now, I’m no product-snob – though heaven knows I try 😉  I just don’t have the money to indulge.  Perhaps if I didn’t LOVE makeup/skincare/haircare quite so much (thus not needing to try new things ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME) I’d go high-end exclusivly.

Let’s face it, I have aspirations to makeup snobbery.  I don’t know why, I really don’t.  I flippin’ love a good bargain MORE than the next person.

I have a few select luxe pieces in my collection that I would repurchase over and over (hello Dior Capture Totale) but the majority of my collection lies in the low to mid-range price point.

The recent RougeBunnyRouge positive reviews and gushings have done little to dispel my aspirations, although honestly, I’m simultaneously HORRIFIED by their prices (£27 for a liquid eyeliner).  Combine that with waiting lists for Chanel’s latest offering to the Nail Polish world and I’m left feeling a little Jaded myself (no, no need to pardon that pun – I need shooting for that).

What is it that we hope to achieve by putting our money down for the brands that are deemed to be so exclusive?


The ‘exclusive’ E.L.F Complexion Perfection vs. Guerlain Meteorites Powder *removes tongue from cheek*

“Exclusivity” has much to do with cost, the two factors are often intertwined and the lower the cost, the less exclusive the product becomes.  If you do boil it down to this (true or not) how ridiculous does exclusivity become?  If that IS the case, the term should be “exclusively for mugs” because we all know that there are some fabulous cheap(er) purchases to be made.

Is it quality?  I’m sure for some… it is.  I think perhaps I’d understand my aspirations to product-snobbery a little better if I spent time in an environment where I could show off (discretely of course ;)) my latest finds as an extension of my ego in the same way Mr. Smith might drive his new Audi S8 back and forth outside his office window.

I don’t have that excuse (or is it justification!).  I’m self-employed & the only person who sees me for 8 hours of the day is Mr. Lipglossiping and Baby Lipglossiping and they really couldn’t be less impressed by me triumphuntly pulling out my Chantecaille compact.  If anything, I should really make more of a covert operation of it infront of Mr. L…

Am I trying to impress myself perhaps?  Does buying luxe simply place a greater worth in myself?  Do I enjoy the self-indulgence?  Perhaps it’s a bit of all those things.

All I really know is, my bank manager doesn’t like it much.  Now excuse me, I’m off to check out the latest “exclusive” import that is Hourglass Cosmetics whilst doing a fine job (if I do say so myself) of dodging Mr. Lipglossiping.

What are your thoughts on the term “exclusive” when it comes to products?  Is it a term synonymous with quality or sad gits like me hankering after items I can ill-afford to purchase.

22 Responses to “Brand Exclusivity…”

  1. Rhamnousia says:

    I have a reply for this but a)it’s long winded and b)I’ve had no breakfast so I’m going to chow down then reply.

    I’m just leaving this comment here so it reminds me!


  2. Rhamnousia says:

    Right here goes..

    I used to be a brand snob before, back when I couldn’t afford stuff like MAC, BB, etc..because I thought it would make me look better to other people. Now that I can afford it I seldom buy it. The only high end shizz I have is my gel liners, my BB palette and my YSL foundation.

    I’d understand exclusive products if it was like a car or something, something you could SEE as being exclusive but you can’t tell with makeup, no makeup is branded when you put it on your face.

    My aunt, up to recently used to always buy high end makeup religiously. Only recently has she started realising that some High Street stuff is as good as high end.

    I don’t get what Dermalogica are saying, they are stocked in Debenhams and I’m quite sure that Debenhams straddles both High Street and high end. I’ve seen Dermalogica in the Hounslow branch and that’s deffo not high end. I don’t see how stocking Dermalogica in Boots could harm the brand, how can getting out to a wider market harm any brand? More sales means more success.

    I think if you have the money to chase after exclusive items and you’re a collector of makeup, you should buy them as I assume the reason you’re buying is to add to your collection.

    If the product is going to be released everywhere and you’re just buying it because it’s exclusive at the mo, I’d wait until it was released everywhere because you have no “relationship” as it were with the packaging etc..

  3. Ivy says:

    I like to think of myself more of a equal opportunity makeup snob! While I generally love the luxe packaging of higher end brands, I don’t allow myself to indulge unless there is a sale or I can get them cheaper on Ebay. And for some reason, I have more issues with brands like L’oreal charging an arm and a leg for an eyeliner, then I do with Guerlain charging mega $$$ for a compact.

  4. Rhamnousia says:

    Ivy, I’m the same really.

    It takes me ages to buy a high street brand of anything now because it’s so expensive. L’oreal are the latest biscuit takers with a primer which costs more than £10? How is that cheap?

    I’d gladly pay my £16 for my YSL lipgloss becuase it’s perfect for me but I get funny paying for a High Street gloss which costs £7.

  5. I guess things are going in the direction of fashion, where we love the bargains like Primark, and the luxe stuff – say Marc Jacobs shoes, but the brands in between suffer. I know what you mean, I tend to like a great bargain or a total indulgence…but then I do think brands like Bourjois (in between, wouldn’t you say?) offer great value. And of course the mid-market brands are sister brands to the premium ones, with the technology filtering down just like fashion does to the high street.
    Just discovered your blog and like alot!

  6. Tali says:

    Im a make-up snob. Ill always consider the desinger before the drugstore.. normally because the drugstore brands continuously let me down with chalky eyeshadows, bad packaging, chunkyly milled powders, orange foundations, fragile products, synthetic scents, too many chemicals.. glitter thats unsuitable for skincare… list goes on.

    That being said the real motivation i have for buying make-up is happiness. If i get enjoyment out of using a product. (eg. the quality, snazzy packaging, consistency of the rouge Bunny eyeshaddows and knowing they contain nourishing ingredients. Every morning they put a smile on my face!! Not likely i would get that much joy from a Maybelline shadow!!)

    I think Boots was wrong to stock the brand with no prior agreement or arrangement, regardless of snobbery… rules are rules!

  7. MizzWorthy says:

    I’m not sure what category I really fall into as I love treating myself to hight end makeup, and definitely think with some products – foundation – for example, its well worth paying out for, however I’m equally happy with ELF for certain things – their mineral eyeshadows are great for example, and I like a lot of the products in the studio line. At the end of the day, if a product works for you, and you enjoy using it, you’ll pay – thats why brands like RBR are successful – they back up their style with substance, and I’m far more likely to “hit pan” on their shadows than some random drugstore shadow. I also get a real kick out of treating myself and recieving packages, and I love discovering new brands… I’m not sure about the whole dermalogica issue lol… I always think that superdrug is a “cheap” drugstore whereas Boots is more “respectable” somehow – I have no idea why! So I’d think having products in Boots would not be too damaging to the brand? They still should have checked though!

  8. Price has, and always will be associated with cost – I remember my gran telling me from a young age that you get what you pay for. I then remember learning in uni that price can be a ‘surrogate indicator of quality’ (probably the only thing that I can remember) basically meaning that if a product is highly priced, people will perceive it to be of a superior quality to lower priced alternatives.

    Clearly we know this isn’t true.. I personally don’t believe in buying high end mascaras… in my experience I really don’t think that they are worth it.

    I’ve used premium hair and skincare products religiously in the past but recently have replaced some with drugstore brands (hello Aussie) that do the exact same job.

    With make-up I do tend to spend more – why? Because it’s a reward. It’s fun, it’s exciting… you pay for the experience… not just the product. You’re a part of something… it’s the aspiration… I can’t buy the Chanel 2.55 (yet) but I can buy Chanel Rouge Laque when I want a treat… it’s luxurious, opulent and to be quite frank, I love it.

    I’d say it’s very narrowminded of Dermalogica to have that opinion on Boots… Estee Lauder, Chanel, Lancome…. all premium brands. More so than Dermalogica… and all stocked in Boots. Tsk, tsk. Bad Dermalogica.

  9. Lucy B says:

    Hi lg, thanks for the nice comment. I was nervous about posting my fotd but feel happier now thanks to the lovely bloggers commenting :)

    I can’t afford to be a makeup snob. I’ll test pretty much anything once and if it lets me down I won’t buy it again etc.

    Only thing I pay more for is foundation. Cuz whats the point in having an orange face 😀 Nearly all drugstore brands turn orange on me :( xXx

  10. Abigail says:


    The exclusivity mentioned when it comes to Dermalogica is that it is a salon-only brand, sold through trained skin care therapists and in skin centres with at least one treatment room and does not refer to the cost. Boots does not fulfill this criteria

  11. Hi Abigail, thanks for stopping by to comment.

    You sound as though you know what you’re talking about :) I’ve never used Dermalogica so don’t have a clue.

    I know that there are MANY unauthorized Dermalogica retailers online… but surely the authorized ones don’t fit the criteria you outlined?

    And as Rhamnousia stated above.. Dermalogica UK are happy to supply Debenhams (and I believe Selfridges) – these also don’t meet the criteria you stated?

  12. @Rhamnousia – really interesting point about it being more for collection purposes than usage… I think I do buy for my ‘collection’ aswell as my daily use. ‘Collection’ for me, would refer to items that are used ocassionally, and they actually are probably more likely to be high end. Also, check out Abigail’s response to ‘exclusivity’… I still don’t understand Debenhams though *shrugs*

  13. @Ivy – Hello!

    I’m in total agreement with everything you wrote – especially:

    “I have more issues with brands like L’oreal charging an arm and a leg for an eyeliner, then I do with Guerlain charging mega $$$ for a compact.”

    I find high street cosmetic shopping *so* hard… I um and ahh.. constantly thinking things like “but for £8 more I could get such and such (high end) product”. Many high street brands just don’t seem to be worth their price point anymore and I find myself looking at the lower priced ones like Boots 17, BarryM, MeMeMe etc..

  14. Rhamnousia says:

    Abigail, that doesn’t make sense to me. I have seen it sold in many outlets which are clearly not salons nor do they have any treatment rooms. I’ve seen it sold in Debenhams in Hounslow with my own two eyes and they have none of the pre-requisites you mentioned above so can you explain why it’s sold there but can’t be sold in Boots? I fully understand the concept of exclusivity contracts with certain companies which Derm. may have but the answer you provided conflicts with the points made in Lipglossiping’s post and what I have seen myself.

    Further to my point mentioned above, they sell their products in duty free and I see no treatment rooms or salons there either so what is the official line from Derm. about where they will and will not sell?

    I’m not having a go, I’m genuinly interested to know how they decide where to and where not to sell because it seems a bit hit unnecessarily restrictive to me.

  15. Grace London says:

    My opinion is that Dermalogica are entitled to decide who they want to sell their brand, whatever their reason. That goes for online too. My first thought on their reason was pretty much what Abigail said – and I’m completely not affiliated, by the way 😉 – Dermalogica sells some pretty strong stuff, and I can see why they wouldn’t want it to be sold by an outlet that can’t give advice. “Dermalogica burnt my face” is not a good headline, and what that article probably wouldn’t say is that the person bought it and used it incorrectly, having had no advice from the sales outlet. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing at approved outlets even where there isn’t a treatment room there is someone who has been trained to give advice – like “If you use our AHA product you have to use a sunscreen too.” etc

    On to exclusive brands 😉 I don’t by simply because I want to be exclusive, although I’ll admit the thrill of finding something lovely that not everyone knows about. I do think that the cost of an item is about more than its price – a very inexpensive item may well be made in a country where there aren’t such strict rules on worker pay and conditions, not to mention consumer safety, and I’d therefore rather buy products made in Europe, US, Australia, Japan etc where worker’s conditions are better. I don’t buy pretty things to flash them about (I only ever carry a lippie with me, and that I reapply in the restroom, and I’m quite shy about reapplying if other people are in there) I buy them because they make me feel happy to look at them.

  16. Hello Laura!

    Thank you, you’ve made my day!

    It is the middle of the road (pricewise) brands that are seemingly the object of our frustrations isn’t it!

    As you say, the technology is filtering down but it’s often so hit and miss. Is this the reason we’re loathe to pay £14 for Maybelline’s Pulse Perfection Mascara? However, I genuinely wonder if in many cases, the high end equivalents are much better. If I’m honest with myself some of my more expensive purchases are a complete load of rubbish… and yet, I find it sometimes hard to admit that at first. I suppose no-one wants to believe they’ve just wasted £28 on something that could have been bought for less than half that price.

  17. Hi Tali,

    And that’s what it’s all about, having a hobby that makes us happy!

    And I agree with you on “rules is rules” – I just a nosey git wondering if it’s a case of “one rule for one…”

  18. Hi Jen!

    Foundation is probably my biggest high end indulgence (that and lipsticks). It is where I notice the greatest differences in quality. Mascara, not so much (although I’d love to!).

    I think *exactly* the same as you re: Superdrug & Boots. I never spent my pocket money in Boots as a kid, it always seemed too pricey for me LOL

  19. @LionLovingTiger

    Agreed! I think I’m starting to enjoy ‘treating’ myself a little too often which is probably why I’m starting to analyse WHY it is that I get so much enjoyment from it.

    I’m starting to think it can’t be pinned down to just one thing, I’m blaming it on hormones. Seratonins and such like.

    “Sorry Darling, I was feeling hormonal, and the only thing that was gonna help was a Rouge Volupte… You don’t understand right now, but this lipstick has just saved you from a whole load of misery tonight” LOL

  20. Hi Lucy,

    It was a lovely FOTD! Do more!

    At the moment, I probably have a healthy mix of high-end, low-end.. quantity is fast becoming an issue though!

  21. Sarah says:

    This is such a big issue, and I think you covered it really well. There’s such a complex relationship between branding, self-perception, a sense of exclusivity and at the same time a sense of belonging… and all of it centres around things that are perishable and often only last a matter of weeks before we’re supposed to throw them out!

    I wrote a post that was meant to address this a while ago but I don’t think I really got down to it. It’s here if you want to have a look –

  22. Joy says:

    Here in Southern California, Dermalogica is available at every two-bit, strip mall nail salon. It’s pricey, but I’ve never considered it high end.

    L’Oreal has a new mascara that’s US$16.99; higher than some department store brands. I stick to the brands I know work for me [mostly Smashbox and Bobbi Brown] and find that’s cheaper in the long run.

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