Where's the Loyalty? Extremely irritated with esthetic lines.

There's seems to be a shift that has occurred recently in our business and I'm not too happy about it. I came to this realization as I was walking through my local mall and noticed that an Aveda "store" is scheduled to open up across from Sephora who carries traditionally esthetic lines such as Glymed and Murad.

What I don't understand is how they justify expecting line loyalty from us and only selling backbar and pro-only products if we buy into their line, then deciding to by-pass us completely and sell directly to the consumer despite that we've spent several thousand purchasing into their line. Does this mean they're going to sell professional backbar to us without requiring commitment? Because I would be totally cool with their "stores" if I can walk into a local beauty supply and get my backbar like hairstylists do.

And also...stop calling yourself "professional" if you're no longer requiring "professionals" to sell your product...Ulta and Dermalogica that means YOU.

SORRY RANT OVER. I'm fully expecting to be able to get my favorite Decleor Deep Cleanser, Dermalogica Multi-vitamin Peel, and H2t pumpkin mask wherever supplies are sold. I should be able to mix and match my favorites too.

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Unpopular opinion warning!!!  And I would like to say I don't know you and you're probably an awesome saleswoman and I don't mean anything personally towards you with my counter-rant, but......

I used to get all wrapped up in what a "professional" line should or shouldn't be/do/offer...  I used to use statements like, "it is a professional line therefore the active ingredients aren't in high enough concentrations to make a difference, otherwise it would not be for sale on store shelves," but at this point in my ingredient knowledge, I a) recognize that companies are selling a wide range of mild and strong products across a variety of marketing platforms, and b) that I need to have a little more to go on than "it's not professional" or "it's all about strength" if I want to get my clients onto the products I feel most strongly benefit their skin.  This led me to seek greater ingredient knowledge.  There is such a huge array of ingredients available to chemists, and even though I have learned a lot about ingredients, I am constantly looking them up.  Look up the same ingredient 3/5/8/15 times and suddenly you can recognize and understand its impact on an ingredient deck.  There really is no secret to understanding ingredients, just a lot of repeat exposure and careful reading of reliable web sources that explain each ingredient's function.  

I find that I am able to identify (and thus carry) much more elegant formulations now, and my sales are wonderful because instead of having to say, "oh, that ROC retinol isn't strong enough...  but oh wait, you're peeling?  Don't I look uneducated now!" I can knowledgeably read the ingredient deck and instead tell that client, "this product does contain retinol, but since OUR goal is to clear YOUR acne, I am concerned about the Steareth-20 being so high on the list, as it has the potential for causing YOUR SKIN to develop comedones like the ones I extracted today, and may also be an irritant for YOUR SKIN, especially in the areas where YOUR SKIN is vulnerable from recent breakouts.  Instead, I think it would be safer FOR YOU to use (my retinol serum) as it has a more acne-safe emulsion system.  This means that it won't last quite as long in your bathroom as the ROC product would, but I don't see this being a problem since YOU'LL be using it daily in conjunction with YOUR TREATMENTS with me."  Outcome?  Client for life, because you explained not why your product is 100% better for 100% of the population (which is the goal of mass market sales), but why your PARTICULAR product is best for your client's PARTICULAR skin concern at this PARTICULAR point in time.  You established yourself as a true professional, you earned the sale, and you'll continue to reap the rewards in terms of reorders, prebookings, and referrals. 

Bottom line?  It is the product companies' job to SELL to their customers.  It is our job to SELL to our clients.  Sales is an ongoing process that involves educating and reminding people about what is best for THEM.  If not for our sales efforts, they will naturally drift towards other lines that are selling harder and with way bigger budgets to do so.  Still, at the end of the day, we have the MOST valuable sales tool at our disposal, which the big companies will NEVER have, and that is face-to-face, INDIVIDUALIZED recommendations on the part of consummate experts.  YES, part of your expertise in this new skincare economy MUST be ingredient knowledge, even if you find ingredient decks long and stupid and boring.  If you don't want to become an ingredient expert, start specializing in waxing, makeup, or something besides pro skincare treatments, because the trend will only continue.  Nothing personal, but the estheticians who are uneasy with selling will ALWAYS find something that the product companies are doing that is disloyal or unprofessional or unbelievable on some level...  those of us who choose to view sales as an important service that our clients actually pay us to render in addition to their physical spa services will continue to make sales all day long. 

While I agree with you, Christine, I think she is mad that we have to buy into these lines and now they are ending up in stores like Sephora. If these stores are going to start to sell these "professional" lines, they may sell them for less than us because they can. We can do all the work in getting our clients to purchase products for all the right reasons but most people will go somewhere else if they can pay less. Some have loyalty but others think about the money they could save.

Luckily the 2 lines I use are smaller and probably won't get to this point. 

I completely SEE and understand that argument, and even have been in the position of being upset with certain lines for going that way in the past, I just think our capabilities to earn the respect and loyalty of our clients transcend what a large chain is able to offer.  

In other words, our client comes to us for a certain experience AND a certain result.  Similarly, you go to a restaurant you love for the experience AND the result (go home full and happy, feeling good, great memories formed, etc.)  So many grocery stores are carrying higher-end wines now...  but I don't see the waiters and restaurant owners freaking out that their diners are dipping out to the Piggly Wiggly and sneaking their lower-priced vino into the restaurant.  The analogy is not perfect, but I just still think we are much more powerful than this limiting mindset where we allow the actions of other people (skincare manufacturers) affect our job performance.  

Several times I have had to just move on from a skincare line because they had changed their sales structure and it affected me negatively as you describe - now I'm comfortable doing that, and grateful I had practice to get my clients used to the possibility of me bringing in something new and even better for their skin, rather than dwelling on the manufacturers having wronged me.

If they're going to direct sell, all I want is the professional products (ie. the non-retail backbar) on my treatment shelf.  They can sell their product, it only makes their brand more recognizable and therefore easier for me to sell.  I just want the backbar they hold out on unless you commit to the line.  There is no line-loyalty anymore.  So let me make my treatments more customized.

Ahhh, I see.  Lines with a big buy-in.  Well, luckily there are plenty of great lines with small or no minimums!  I'm all for customization and it has been a really long time since I've had to worry about a large min.

Samantha---well written. I completely agree. These products loose their exclusivity when they are sold by non-estheticians, and it makes me wonder how clients know that they are getting the right products for their skin issues.  The market is already saturated with so much junk product, and companies that use estheticians to perform facials with their products and sell their products, should keep it professional. Now Dermalogica sits on the shelves in Ulta Stores next to every other line. I don't know how consumers choose products, and then many of these shelf skin care lines hire non-estheticians (sales people) to push these products--if you look at some of these sales people who claim to know what to sell to clients, you will see their skin is in rough condition and they are not skin educators, but simply sales people.

In Ulta's defense, I worked there and they do hire estheticians and perform facials, microcurrent and microzone treatments with the backbar.  Yes, it's out on the shelves that people can buy it without consulting the esthetician or getting a treatment, but so are all the 'professional' hair products.  And Ulta never discounts the products, only the treatments, and always offer free facemapping and consults with the esty.  I think maybe they should be under lock and only sold after talking to the esty, but that's probably not realistic for them.  And Ulta's estys are required to take continuting education at IDI.  

Jodi--I am glad that Ulta hires licensed estheticians. I should have been more clear, what I am talking about is more than just Dermalogica, it is those other brands that saturate Ulta shelves and they have independent reps come in selling these products. They advertise on craigslist and you don't have to be an esthetician, in fact, it is better if you have a retail sales background. When I was in esthetics' school I interviewed with a few of these companies, and I was disappointed with them because they just wanted sales sharks selling their products. They aren't about educating clients about skin care as much as they are about pushing products on clients. I respect the estheticians at Ulta, I just have lost my respect for these sales people who work these aisles.

Oh I agree with that!  I had a nightmare with one rep, I believe from Urban Decay, a makeup line no less.  She talked for like 40 mins with a customer and ended up selling her this agressive anti-aging kit from Exuvience full of AHAs and retinol.  The customer then came to me and asked if this was Ok for her.  She told me her skin was dry, red, and irritated from over use of AHAs in the past.  I could see she was right and told her she needed to get it calmed and hydrated first, then move slowly back into anti-aging.  She put the kit back and left with nothing, probably thinking we were all stupid.  Well that rep proceeded to confront me and yell at me right in the store.  The managers didn't back me, stating that we have a money back guarantee, the lady could have brought them back.  That was the beginning of the end of my time there, as I'm all about what is best for the client, not the bottom line.  So yes, I see that side of it too, and it does bother me. 

That was the line that I did an interview with and decided against working for them because they weren't looking for an esthetician educator as much as they were looking for a sales person.

Good for you! I am glad you keep our industry professional.

Which line, Urban Decay or Exuvience?



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